Portuguese League: FC Porto-Paços de Ferreira (Match Report)

FC Porto 4-0 FC Paços de Ferreira (Estádio do Dragão), 5 November 2022 – match report below

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

Also played: João Mário, Grujic, Galeno, Gonçalo Borges and Toni Martinez.

The ‘demons’ of post-Champions League draws in the Portuguese League were very much present when this game started. I think even more so after the early goal, given what had happened last weekend. But this time Porto were very solid and never let up. Outside of one chance early in the first-half, Paços de Ferreira never looked like they could score. A very competent performance against an opponent we should be beating with relative ease.

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:

  • This is a very different team than the one that started the season. These are the same players, but tactically the team is much more advanced and feels a lot more comfortable in different formations. On defence, it looked like a classic 4x4x2.
  • On offense, it looked mostly like the infamous 4x4x2 diamond, but it was a lot less rigid and much more dynamic. Pepê had freedom to either cut inside from the left or run down the flank. Otávio wasn’t stuck to the middle and would often appear on the right. Eustáquio had freedom to run forward knowing Uribe was there to anchor the midfield.
  • Taremi takes my vote for man of the match. He is in such great form right now, scoring and assisting, plus helping the offense by dropping deep to get the ball. That control and turn for the 2-0 was exquisite and his pass for the 3-0, to set Pepê through on goal, was sublime.
  • Pepê still has some issues with his passing, it’s too hit and miss. However, his ability to run without the ball and create space is key to the offense. He added two assists to the stat sheet and played a really good game overall.
  • Speaking of stat sheet, Evanilson got two more goals in the League and is now tied with Taremi as our League top scorer. He also created the play that resulted in the 4-0. His performance level has been inconsistent this season, but yesterday he was class.
  • The entire backline played well and, outside of one play, didn’t allow Paços to do much. Uribe also contributed with a lot of the invisible dirty work. I agree with Sérgio that Marcano deserved to keep his place in the starting line-up, as did Fábio Cardoso. Once Pepe is back, Fábio should remain the starter.
Taremi with a goal and an assist takes my vote for man of the match.

Not loads to say in terms of negatives, but let’s get into it:

  • The only goal scoring chance created by Paços resulted in Porto playing almost three minutes with their full-backs inverted (due to Wendell taking a corner on the right). There has to be someone else capable of taking a corner, no? It created some defensive instability, as Rodrigo was clearly out of position and should have resulted in the equaliser.
  • I appreciate the match was easy, but you need to remain focused throughout. A lot of careless passes and poor decisions in the last 30 minutes. We should have scored another 2 or 3 goals.
  • Not a negative per se, but I would really like to see Grujic get more minutes. He played quite well against Atlético (you can read about that here) and arguably deserved to start. I wonder if it’s his propensity for stupid yellow cards? He had another one last night.
A nice cameo from Grujic.

Match Report

Following the win in mid-week against Atlético Madrid, it was likely Sérgio would make some changes. For starters, Zaidu was injured and Uribe was back following suspension in the Champions League. Porto line-up in the traditional 4x4x2, with Rodrigo Conceição and Wendell as the full-backs, Pepê on the left wing and Uribe back in midfield. Marcano kept his place in the starting line-up (and rightly so) and Galeno started this one on the bench.

We couldn’t have hoped for a better start, as Evanilson opened the score on the 3rd minute. A great ball from Eustáquio to the centre of the penalty box, where Evanilson controlled it and lobbed it over the goalkeeper with a cool touch. A really nice finish to a well constructed play.

Unlike against Santa Clara, the team didn’t let up and kept pressing for a second goal. Wendell on the 12th minute and Eustáquio on the 14th minute came close, but the former shot it just wide and the latter forced the goalkeeper into a good save.

Soon after though, Paços had an incredible chance to score, which Juan Delgado somehow missed it. Uilton held up the ball well on the left side of the penalty box and crossed it to the far post where Delgado, with an open net, missed his shot. This play somewhat changed the momentum of the game, as the team’s intensity progressively reduced.

However, on the 31st minute, Taremi made it 2-0. A really nice build-up between Otávio, Eustáquio and Pepê, saw the Brazilian winger play it through to Taremi. With his back to goal, he controlled it while turning towards the defender and got himself clean through on goal. It was such a lovely move. A nice finish as well.

Soon after, Porto effectively ended the game. Another intricate play through the midfield, with Pepê passing it to Taremi and getting it back inside the box (fabulous through ball). One on one with the goalkeeper, Pepê wasn’t selfish and passed it to Evanilson for an easy tap in. 3-0 and game over.

An excellent finish by Evanilson for the first goal.

The opening few minutes of the second-half saw Paços look a little bit more threatening on offense, but nothing too concerning. After a less impressive opening 10 minutes, Porto got the fourth goal on the 54th minute. Otávio sent Evanilson through on the right, he dribbled pass the defender and crossed it to the far post. Delgado tried everything he could to stop Taremi from heading the ball and ended up scoring an own goal to make it 4-0.

Sérgio didn’t wait any longer and sent on João Mário, Grujic and Galeno, for Rodrigo Conceição, Uribe and Eustáquio. It looked like the formation morphed into a hybrid 4x3x3, as Evanilson looked like he was playing sort of right-centre forward, Otávio moved into the middle, Pepê to right-centre mid and Galeno went to the left wing.

There was immediate impact from these changes, as Porto created three good chances to score in the space of five minutes. Evanilson and Otávio shot it just wide, whilst Taremi scored but was offside (correct decision). Toni Martinez came on for Evanilson soon after.

With the last substitution of the match, Gonçalo Borges replaced Taremi on the 82nd minute to play on the right-wing. There was still time for Galeno to almost make it 5-0, as he cut inside from the left but his shot hit the post. He rushed the rebound and basically passed it to the goalkeeper – he should have laid it off to Gonçalo.

A solid performance from Marcano in his return to the line-up in League games.

Just two more games before the break, with the team traveling to Mafra on Tuesday for the 4th found of the Portuguese Cup and then away at Boavista on Saturday night. We will also find out who Porto plays against in the next round of the Champions League on Monday. I expect several chances to the starting line-up with on Tuesday, with the likes of João Mário, Grujic, Danny Loader and Toni Martinez likely getting the start.

Match ratings (1-5):

Diogo Costa (3), R Conceição (3), F Cardoso (3), Marcano (3), Wendell (3), Uribe (3), Eustáquio (4), Otávio (3), Pepê (4), Taremi (4), Evanilson (4).
J Mário, (3), Grujic (3), Galeno (3), G Borges & T Martinez (n/a).

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