Porto - Dinamo Zagreb Preview: Hosts look to seal 150th European win
The visitors are yet to secure a point in Group A and take a depleted squad to Estadio do Dragao, where they will face a Portistas side which is yet to lose this season
By Miles Chambers
Danilo, Otamendi, Mangala, Alex Sandro
Moutinho, Defour, Lucho
Varela, Martinez, Rodriguez
Vrsaljko, Simunic, Tonel, Ibanez
Carrasco, Calello, Brozovic, Pivaric
This penultimate group stage encounter will be the last opportunity for Porto to strut their stuff on home soil in continental competition before the knockout stages start in 2013.
Portistas have already guaranteed their spot in the last 16 thanks to three wins and a draw in their four matches, but expect Estadio do Dragao to be buzzing with anticipation regardless of their European security.
The 2004 Champions League victors remain without Emidio Rafael, though the defender has finally returned to light training after nearly two years out injured with a fractured ankle.
Porto remain without any other recognised absentees, although Vitor Pereira may choose to rest the likes of Joao Moutinho and Jackson Martinez should he feel like giving others a chance to shine with qualification ensured.
Dinamo Zagreb sit bottom of Group A on zero points and have failed to score in this season's competition as yet.
Domagoj Vida (toe) has played all 900 minutes of Dinamo’s continental campaign, but he is a doubt after missing training on Sunday.
Others that could miss the clash due to injury include Alen Halilovic (calf), Arijan Ademi (ankle) and Mateo Kovacic (tendon). Striker Ante Rukavina has been ruled out of the trip due to a bout of flu.
It is not just dignity that the visitors will be fighting for on Wednesday night - a victory would propel Dinamo back in with a chance of qualifying for the Europa League, should Dynamo Kiev lose or draw with Paris Saint-Germain on the evening.
|DID YOU KNOW?
- Porto guaranteed their place in the last 16 of this season's Champions League with two games to spare. They currently sit top of Group A.
- The Portuguese club's next win in this competition, or the Europa League, will be their 150th victory in Europe.
- When Dinamo Zagreb faced Porto in the first group stage game of the season, the Croatian side had not lost in 33 matches - since December 2011. However, they were beaten 2-0 that night and have since lost in six of their last 13 matches.
- Portistas' are unbeaten in all of their 16 competitive matches this season.
- Defeat on Wednesday evening would extend Dinamo's record of consecutive group stage defeats to 10.
- Portugal has not been a happy hunting ground for the Croatian side. On Wednesday night they will hope to score their first goal and register their first point in their sixth visit to the country.
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Top 3 Predictions
Porto 3-0 Dinamo Zagreb
- 20.6 %
Porto 2-0 Dinamo Zagreb
- 13.57 %
Porto 3-1 Dinamo Zagreb
- 11.56 %
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||21 Nov 2012||Porto 3 - Dinamo Zagreb 0|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||18 Sep 2012||Dinamo Zagreb 0 - Porto 2|
|21 Apr 2014||Porto 3 - Rio Ave 0||POR1|
|16 Apr 2014||Benfica 3 - Porto 1||TDeP|
|13 Apr 2014||Braga 1 - Porto 3||POR1|
|10 Apr 2014||Sevilla 4 - Porto 1||EL|
|6 Apr 2014||Porto 3 - Academica 1||POR1|
|-||Christian Twasam Atsu||Striker|
Despite recording disappointing results in La Liga of late, Malaga have looked solid away from home in Europe and will be confident of securing the point they need to finish as group winners. Zenit were dire in the 1-0 defeat at Anderlecht and could struggle to break down the visitors' defence.
The attacking midfielder has not enjoyed his best spell of form in recent months, but if his side are to get anything from this contest then he will have to be at his creative best. The Croatian side are yet to score in this season's competition, but the 25-year-old could be the man to end that dismal record if he can recapture his best form.
Every single statistic points in Porto's favour. With the strikeforce that the hosts have at their disposal, an early flurry could ensue before the hosts sit back and see out the match with ease.