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Porto-Malaga Preview: Andalusians keen to maintain unbeaten Champions League record
Manuel Pellegrini's team are yet to taste defeat on the road in the competition, however their only previous loss in Europe came across the border to Portuguese opposition
By Tom Webber
Danilo, Otamendi, Mangala, Alex Sandro
Lucho, Fernando, Moutinho
Atsu, Martinez, Rodriguez
Sanchez, Weligton, Demichelis, Antunes
Joaquin, Isco, Portillo
Malaga will be hopeful of coming away from the Dragao with their unbeaten Champions League record still intact as they face Porto in the last 16.
Manuel Pellegrini will be unable to select either of his first choice full-backs for the visit to their Iberian neighbours; where they suffered their only ever European defeat. Eliseu and Jesus Gamez are both out of contention while Martin Demichelis could return after missing out on the weekend win over Athletic Bilbao.
Meanwhile, Porto, who have will have had an extra few days rest come match day, welcome back James Rodriguez to the starting line-up. Vitor Pereira will stick with the same back four that he has used in every league game as the Dragoes look to improve upon a lacklustre record against Spanish opposition which includes seven losses in front of their own fans in 17 games.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Porto, who last lifted the trophy in 2004, are in the knockout stages for the 10th time.
- The Dragoes were victorious the last time they welcomed Spanish opposition to Portugal. Villarreal were handed a 5-1 thrashing as Andre Villas-Boas led the club to the 2010-11 Europa League title.
- Porto's overall record against Spanish opposition leaves a lot to be desired, winning 12 and drawing five in 37 meetings.
- Malaga remain unbeaten in what is their debut season in the Europa Champions League.
- The Andalusians' only defeat in 12 European away games came against former Portuguese giants Boavista in the 2002-03 Uefa Cup.
- Martin Demichelis (pictured right) could come up against former River Plate team-mate Lucho Gonzalez.
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Top 3 Predictions
Porto 2-1 Malaga
- 17.32 %
Porto 1-2 Malaga
- 13.99 %
Porto 2-0 Malaga
- 12.33 %
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Mar 13, 2013||Malaga 2 - Porto 0|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Feb 19, 2013||Porto 1 - Malaga 0|
|May 19, 2013||Paços Ferreira 0 - Porto 2||POR1|
|May 11, 2013||Porto 2 - Benfica 1||POR1|
|May 4, 2013||CD Nacional 1 - Porto 3||POR1|
|Apr 27, 2013||Porto 2 - Vitoria Setubal 0||POR1|
|Apr 20, 2013||Moreirense FC 0 - Porto 3||POR1|
|-||Marat Nailevich Izmailov||Striker|
|4||Maicon Pereira Roque||Defender|
|-||Christian Twasam Atsu||Striker|
|9||Roque Santa Cruz||Striker|
The Colombian made his return from injury on Friday night in the 2-0 win over Beira-Mar and could play a key role against the Spanish side. His creativity alongside the striker is a key source of danger for Porto, who will no doubt get chances to find the net should they get the 21-year-old on the ball. He is not only a source of invention, though, as he has chipped in with seven goals in 13 Primeira Liga appearances so far this season.
The 20-year-old has been making waves across Europe with some fantastic displays in the hole behind the striker. He possesses awesome technique and seems to be able to keep the ball glued to his feet, even when under heavy pressure. His vision and ability to pick the killer pass have proved to be the undoing of a number of sides this season, so Porto will need to watch him closely if they are to avoid tasting defeat at home to Spanish opposition once more.
Porto's record against Spanish teams is far from impressive and Malaga will once again provide tough opposition from across the border. Both teams possess quality in the final third and there is very little to chose between them. The Dragoes won every home game in the group stage and the Andalusians are unbeaten so far in the competition, so something has to give. It will be a close encounter and a draw seems to be the most likely outcome.
Times In GMT
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed