There were two aspects of today’s Champions League quarter-final draw that pleased Thomas Tuchel, but another development makes him wary as we look forward to a two-legged tie against Porto next month.
The draw handed us a meeting with the Primeira Liga side that have been familiar European opposition over the years. We met them in the 2004/05, 2006/07, 2009/10 and 2015/16 Champions League campaigns, with consistently tight results.
Porto surprised Juventus in the round of 16 with two impressive performances, not least in Italy when they played an hour with 10 men and dramatically advanced on away goals. That tie alone is enough to ensure Tuchel isn’t taking anything for granted, as he explained at his press conference today.
‘First of all, I’m happy we play an international game and not against an English team,’ he started.
‘Champions League is about that. I have always preferred playing against teams from other countries.
‘Then we have the second leg at home which feels good, to start with an away game and then maybe have a slight advantage of finishing at home.
‘Clearly many people will maybe now make us the favourites against Porto. That will not help us. You can ask in Turin what the opinion about this is, and if helps to be favourites.
‘But we are self-confident, and that is strongly connected with our performances. We face a strong opponent with all the respect, but now we are in the quarter-final we think about how to win it, and the only thing we focus on is to reach the semi-final. We are self-confident enough we see our chances.’
Petr Cech, a Champions League winner in 2012 and now our technical and performance advisor, has also given his verdict on today’s draw.
He knows Porto better than many having faced them in three separate seasons as a Chelsea player, and once before his move to Stamford Bridge while with Sparta Prague.
‘When you reach the quarter-final of the Champions League, you know you will face a difficult opponent,’ said Cech.
‘Now with the pandemic there are certain other things that play a part in this Champions League. As it stands now we play Porto as normal away and home, and you can prepare for that. It’s an opponent we need to respect. They have history in the Champions League and European Cup. It’s a team we will be prepared for and ready to play against.
‘We have played Porto a few times in the Champions League,’ added Cech.
‘All the games were always tight and very difficult. We expect the same. They were good in the group with Manchester City, and they managed to go and beat Juventus, another giant of European football, so we have to respect that, but we have our confidence and we know the strength of our team. Hopefully we can go through.'