Porto’s current run of form has elevated them to 3rd in the league table and into contention for Champions League qualification next season. After disappointing earlier in the season they found themselves as low as 6th but just one defeat in 12 games has seen them close the gap to those above.
Despite this run though they are still ten points off the pace of league leaders Sporting. Paying the penalty for early dropped points, Porto are left to play catch up with only nine game remaining.
They do still have to travel to 2nd place Benfica as well as hosting Sporting at the Estádio do Dragão. These two crucial games take place either side of their Europa League second round ties with Everton. In ten days which could make or break their season, the Dragão’s could be out of contention to join Europes elite clubs all together.
Players rest and rotation over this time will be critical as any lack of concentration would be punished by the quality opposition. Rotation is something which Porto’s manager did not handle well earlier in the season. He put too much faith in the second string side and it was a costly experiment which caused them to lose ground.
The management are aiming to improve the future of Porto however, and have invested in players for the coming seasons. The new signings who arrived in January have already helped Porto B to rise up the second league table. Although they will be unable to catch run away leaders Boavista, 2nd is the highest the junior side has been for some years.
January saw an influx of talented youngsters join the club as the manager looks to build a long and successful future in Porto. Adriano (18), Jonas (20), Jhon Gómez (18), Silvio Mina (18), and Pablo Ramirez (23) will all have some time to get used to the squad before becoming part of the coach’s plans next season.
With the next generation looking promising it is up to the current crop of players to bring success if they can. The senior XI look strong but were weakened somewhat by the sale of Afonso Sousa. The Attacking Midfielder had scored six and assisted nine in his 19 appearances for the club until January. That hot streak in form alerted Real Madrid to his progress and Porto were unable to turn down their advances.
Sousa’s move away from the club has left a hole in the starting side but results have still been good since his departure. It took some time for Porto to scout a replacement but Marco Asensio will be joining at the end of the season. Unfancied in Madrid the 28-year-old Spaniard will move to Liga Nos following the arrival of Sousa at the Bernabéu. Although unable to afford his wages initially, Madrid have agreed to pay £40k per week to allow the move to go ahead.
With the near future looking bright, Porto need to push on for the remainder of the current season. If they can finish at least 3rd or win the Europa league it will be a good season. Qualification for the Champions League is the minimum expectations from the fans.