Portuguese League: Portimonense SC-FC Porto (Match Report)

Portimonense SC 0-2 FC Porto(Estádio Municipal de Portimão), 8 October 2022 – match report below

Line-up (4x4x2): Diogo Costa, Rodrigo Conceição, Fábio Cardoso, David Carmo, Wendell; Uribe, Eustáquio, Otávio, Pepê; Taremi, Evanilson

Also played: Zaidu, Grujic, Bruno Costa, Galeno and Toni Martinez.

Despite the great winning record that Porto have against Portimonense and that Sérgio Conceição has against Paulo Sérgio, this match had all the makings of a potential slip up. This was an away game sandwiched in between two Champions League games against Leverkusen. Also, Portimonense were in 5th place coming into this match – they have been tough to beat.

However, Porto were mostly competent throughout. Despite a bad opening 15 minutes, Porto stabilised and took control. Portimonense didn’t event hit a shot on target until the last 20mins. But those last 20mins were bad – a lack of focus and intensity that could have been very troublesome. Luckily, Portimonense’s striker was off the mark and the defence held on to take home the 3 points.

I will be keeping track of the goal and assist tallies for all competitions.

Positives & Negatives

I’ve written the full match report below, which I would encourage you to read. But here I’ll focus on the positives and the negatives from this match. Starting with the positives:

  • I’m so glad Sérgio has stuck to the classic 4x4x2 and has shelved the diamond. The team feels so much more comfortable. And the players that were previously underperforming like Pepê and Evanilson are now thriving again.
  • Otávio was awesome and takes my vote for man of the match. What he adds to the team compared with Bruno Costa can’t even be described in words. A great goal to cap off a great performance.
  • Rodrigo had another good game. I understand why he didn’t start against Leverkusen, but I think he’s our best RB option right now. Good to see Wendell keep his starting spot, he’s earned it. He played a clean game.
  • Despite not scoring, Taremi got another assist and had a solid, if unspectacular performance overall. He is integral to our style of play, because he works so hard for the team and serves as the link between midfield and attack.
  • Uribe and Eustáquio were solid in midifield and mostly controlled the game. Their partnership is starting to gel and they aren’t getting in each other’s way as much anymore. I would have liked to see Grujic get some more minutes, but I understand playing the same duo as much as possible.
  • I thought both Fabio and Carmo played well, no real mistakes. It’s really important that both of these guys play well because Pepe is going to be out for at least a month. A huge blow for this team. A trial by fire awaits next week at Leverkusen.
A great strike from Otávio to make it 1-0.

Not a huge amount to say on the negatives, but let’s get into it:

  • I may sound like a broken record here, but I thought Sérgio took way too long to make some subs. As soon as we scored the second goal, it was evident the team had shut down their engines and just wanted to run the clock. It’s fine to want to control the game, but you do that by having possession, not by giving the ball away and not pressing on defence.
  • I’m not a fan of playing Pepê at RB when we’re winning and just waiting for the game to end. He doesn’t have great positional sense and both of Portimonenses best chances were crosses from the left into a wide open area where Pepe was nowhere to be found. Likewise with Zaidu, who defended very poorly when he came on.
  • Galeno is usually really good off the bench, but last night he wasn’t. Gave the ball away a lot and missed a golden chance to make it 3-0. He should have passed it to Toni Martinez who would only need to tap it into an open net.
  • I don’t know if there was a lack of communication in terms of who should play where once Galeno came on, but most of the time the right flank was completely abandoned because both Pepê and Otávio played centrally. Portimonense started gaining the upper hand once they explored that side more.
  • It’s unfair to have this as a negative perhaps, but I have to say it – Nakamura, who replaced Samuel Portugal (who joined Porto on the last day of the transfer market – you can read about that here) looks quite good. He played very well at least. Doesn’t look like Portimão misses Samuel too much.
Another strong performance from Rodrigo at right-back.

Match Report

After two consecutive wins in two key games, Porto were coming into this game with some confidence. Sérgio noted in the press conference how the coaching staff went ‘back to basics’ during the break, reinstalling the 4x4x2 that the players are comfortable with. Three changes to the starting line-up for this game, but the formation was left unchanged.

The first 15 minutes were not good and Portimonense had more of the ball (despite not creating any chances). It took an 18th minute long range shot from Uribe (for a good save) to wake the team up. Just a few minutes after that, Porto opened the score.

On the 22nd minute, Rodrigo Conceição with a great play down the right flank, crossed into the middle of the box. Otávio chested it to Evanilson, who chested it back to Otávio, for a great volley into the net for the 1-0. Porto had the upper hand from then on and created a couple more chances before the break.

On the 33rd minute, a long ball from Oávio found Taremi on the left, who passed it inside to Evanilson, but he shot it wide. On the 39th minute, Pepê with a nice play on the left passed it inside to Evanilson, who squared to Taremi for the shot. He tried to curl it into the far post, but Nakamura made a great save. Not much more action until the end of the half.

Returning to the tried and tested 4x4x2 appears to have kick-started Porto’s season.

Neither coach made any changes coming into the second-half, but Porto got an early goal. On the 51st minute, Pepê won the ball back just outside the box and left it to Taremi. He got past the first defender and cut back, waiting for the right moment to pass it back to Pepê. Once he got the ball, he chipped it in for the 2-0. Exquisite finish.

On the 61st minute, Galeno replaced Evanilson, with Porto switching to a 4x2x3x1. On the 64th minute, a corner from Eustáquio found Otávio at the near post. He headed it goal wards, but Nakamura made an excellent save. Porto started dropping their lines quite a bit after that, which allowed Portimonense to get back into the game.

And they almost scored on the 75th minute. Portimonense hit a deep cross from the right into the far post and found Luquinha in the face of Diogo Costa. He hit a crossing shot that Carmo slightly nudged and Yago on the rebound with an open net hit the bar. Huge miss. Sérgio made two changes soon after that, replacing Wendell and Rodrigo with Bruno Costa and Zaidu, moving Pepê to right-back.

On the 81st minute, Luquinha again cutting inside, found Yago on the far post. He was in on goal and tried to curl one into the top left corner, but Diogo Costa made an excellent save. Sérgio made his last two changes of the game on the 89th minute, replacing Taremi and Otávio with Toni Martinez and Grujic.

There was still time for Porto to almost get a third goal. On the 92nd minute, a counter attack led by Galeno, saw him go one on one with the goalkeeper. He tried to curl it past Nakamura, but shot it poorly allowing the save. Toni Martinez was in on goal and should have got the ball instead. Toni managed to win the ball back from the ensuing play and got fouled on the edge of the box. It was initially signed a penalty, but VAR overturned the call saying he was outside the box. I didn’t think so. Very dubious decision.

A solid, if unspectacular performance by Taremi. He bagged his 7th assist of the season.

Onto Leverkusen. Another do or die for Porto in their quest for Champions League qualification. I think we need at least 7pts from the remaining 3 games to have a chance to go through and that means we can only draw once more and can’t lose anymore. Before it all started, I had noted the away game at Leverkusen to be the toughest one for us (you can read about that here). They have a new coach now, as Xabi Alonso took over a few days ago and his debut ended in a 4-0 home win against Schalke. There is some renewed belief at the Bay Arena.

Match ratings (1-5):

Diogo Costa (3), Rodrigo (4), F Cardoso (3), D Carmo (3), Wendell (3), Uribe (3), Eustáquio (3), Otávio (4), Pepê (4), Taremi (3), Evanilson (3).
Galeno (2), Zaidu, Grujic, Bruno Costa and Toni Martinez (n/a).

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