Porto v Leicester City
Thursday December 8, 6:45am
It’s been a tough old month for Porto: they have won just two of their last eight games in all competitions, falling four points behind Benfica in the Primeira Liga and getting knocked out of the Portuguese Cup. Worryingly, they have managed just three goals in that run.
The goalless draw away to FC Copenhagen last time means Nuno Espirito Santo’s side need a victory on Wednesday to guarantee a spot in the last 16 of the Champions League. But Porto have failed to win their final group game in each of their last five campaigns and will need to improve markedly on recent performances to get the job done.
There are currently two Leicesters. One is struggling badly in the Premier League, threatened by relegation and seemingly incapable of putting together the kind of displays that lit up the division last season. The other is taking Europe by storm and booked a last-16 spot with games to spare in Group G.
It’s a slightly odd state of affairs, but for now Claudio Ranieri must hope that his charges continue to show the desire and solidity that have served them so well in the competition so far. The Foxes have the joint-best defensive record alongside the notoriously frugal Atletico Madrid, which has given them a superb platform on which to build so far.
With top spot already secure, Ranieri is expected to rotate his line-up. Leonardo Ulloa, Demarai Gray and Marcin Wasilewski are among those being tipped for starts, allowing some of the bigger names in the squad – including those, like Islam Slimani and Robert Huth, walking a suspension tightrope – a rest.
It’s no great surprise that Porto are favourites against a side that has nothing to play for, not least because their home record in the competition has been strong in recent times: the Dragons have lost only one of their last 11 games as hosts in the Champions League.
But given their shaky form, 1.36 looks far too short, even against a rotated Leicester. Even if Porto do win, it’s unlikely to be by a landslide, so despite the tempting odds on the draw and the away win – 5.30 and 11.50 respectively – we like the look of Leicester +1.5 on the Asian handicap at 1.94. That guarantees profit if they keep the deficit to within two goals.
Porto have netted before the break in both of their home Champions League games so far, but they may be a bit more circumspect here, with so much on the line. Factor in their lack of joy in front of goal recently and it’s not hard to imagine them being made to wait for a breakthrough. Draw/Porto at 4.40 looks the pick here.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
All of Porto last eight games in all competitions have gone under the 2.5 goal line, and while Leicester have been more of an overs side in recent weeks, their fluency will be impacted by the expected rotation.
In the Champions League, disregarding games against Club Brugge (the weakest team in the group), all of the games involving these sides have been low-scoring. Again, given the stakes for Porto, it could be a nervy evening, so we like the look of the unders at 2.06.
Andre Silva has been directly involved in 75% of Porto’s goals in this season’s Champions League (3 out of 4), scoring two and assisting one. He missed a penalty against Sporting Braga at the weekend but will be keen to make amends and looks a decent first goalscorer option.
BACK – Under 2.5 goals at 2.06
BACK – Leicester +1.5 at 1.94