Porto can pounce on depleted Bayern in CL quarter-final clash
Porto have twice played Bayern Munich in Champions League and European Cup quarter-finals before without success, but do still hold one notable victory over the German giants.
The Dragons defeated Bundesliga big boys Bayern in the 1987 final, but are 5/1 outsiders to qualify for this season’s semis with Coral, despite Munich manager Pep Guardiola missing some key names for the first leg in Portugal.
Defence is depleted for the visitors, odds-on both to take a lead back to the Allianz (5/6) and to make the final four (1/8), with David Alaba (knee) and Mehdi Benatia (hamstring) joining long-term absentee Javi Martinez (knee, but back in light training) on the sidelines.
Couple those being out with senior wingers Franck Ribery (ankle) and Arjen Robben (hip) also being out, alongside midfield maestro Bastian Schweinsteiger (also ankle), and you can make a real case for Porto pinching the first leg at a tasty 10/3.
For Dragons coach Julen Lopetegui, the only slight fly in the ointment is the fitness of Colombia hitman Jackson Martinez. Calf and groin problems have kept Porto’s leading marksman out for over a month now, and this encounter may come too soon for Maritnez (2/1 anytime chance if fit) and Cristian Tello (thigh).
Martinez has six in eight Champions League outings this term, but so does Algeria attacker Yacine Brahimi. This is a real acid test for the reigning BBC African Footballer of the Year, as he is attracting interest from some of Europe’s elite.
If brilliant Brahimi can convert a chance against a beleaguered Bayern backline, then his stock will rise further. Odds of 4/1 say he nets anytime.
Mexico’s box-to-box player Hector Herrera is another for Munich and punters to keep an eye on after four European goals this term. He’s a 6/1 shot to add to that tally in the first leg.
If Martinez doesn’t make it, then Cameroon counterpart Vincent Aboubakar can ably deputise with an impressive three in four Champions League games. Odds of 11/4 say he will score once more.
Departing right back Danilo is demonstrating why Real Madrid have paid a reported £23m to secure his services for next term, netting in the previous two coming into this European encounter. He remains an outside shout to score again at 9/1.
Guardiola’s injury worries have been eased somewhat by the return of influential Bayern skipper Philipp Lahm and Brazil-born Spain international midfielder Thiago Alcantara. Munich retain obvious attacking dangers of their own, which the Dragons will have to try and contain without suspended centre back Ivan Marcano.
Prolific Poland centre forward Robert Lewandowski has nine in his previous 10 club outings, including a brace last time out. This explains why he is an even-money chance to net again anytime, and 5/1 for two or more here.
Germany and Munich attacker Thomas Muller is in equally ominous form, with six in seven, and is marginally better value to score against Porto at 6/5. He grabbed a double in the 7-0 last 16 second leg mauling of Shakhtar Donetsk, so is a 6/1 shot for a repeat performance or better.
Bayern may find attack is the best form of defence here, though, having surprisingly kept clean sheets in five of their last six. Porto’s prodigious players should see this an opportunity to perform against the 15/8 Champions League favourites, and a draw is more than possible at 11/4, with a 1-1 first leg result superb at 6/1.