Getting to know: Porto
news Mon 28 Sep 2015
Our first away game of this season's Champions League is a visit to Porto. With the team travelling there today (Monday), the official Chelsea website, with the help of a local resident, provides some information on our opponents and the city itself.
Antonio Milheiro da Costa hails from Porto and supports his local club. He also has a soft spot for Chelsea and is looking forward to the game.
‘Since Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa took over the presidency of the club Porto have become the most dominant force in the country,’ he tells us.
‘Until that time Porto had won seven titles since the Portuguese League began, and now, during the time Pinto da Costa has been in charge, we have won 20 league titles (including five consecutively from 1994 to 1999, four straight from 2006 to 2009, and three in a row from 2010/11 to 2012/13).
‘In that time we have also won 12 Portuguese Cups, two Champions Leagues, two UEFA Cup/Europa Leagues and one UEFA Super Cup.’
He goes on to discuss the club’s policy of buying young talent and selling it on for a large profit.
‘By establishing a great scouting structure all over the world, especially in South America, Porto have been able to lure young talents to the club, whom for the most part have eventually been sold to the top sides in Europe, for high prices. The most recent players to fall into this category are James Rodriguez and Jackson Martinez.’
Antonio explains why there have been many changes to personnel for Porto since the end of last season.
‘This season began with a lot of enthusiasm among our supporters, who are eager to win a title, as our rivals Benfica have won the league for the last two seasons,’ he says.
‘The manager Julen Lopetegui was able to convince his fellow countryman Iker Casillas to join the club from Real Madrid and he has been of the biggest reasons for the confidence felt by the people of Porto.
‘To fill the void left by Casemiro (who came last year on loan from Real Madrid) and Oliver (on loan from Atletico Madrid), who were the two big pillars of our midfield last season, the club signed the creative young Frenchman Giannelli Imbula from Marseille, and picked up the Portuguese rising star, defensive midfielder Danilo Pereira from Maritimo, who has already won a couple of caps for the national team since joining Porto.
‘After our right-back Danilo left at the end of last season, we signed Maxi Pereira from Benfica, who has already become a fans’ favourite. At the end of the transfer window, we picked up the young Mexican winger Jesus Corona, from Twente, who scored two goals on his debut.
‘Porto are yet to find a real consistent starting XI, changing some players from game to game, but we have been playing good football, mostly dominating in terms of possession and chances created.
‘In this year's Champions League, we are hoping to get to at least the knockout phase. Chelsea should be the toughest opponent in the group stage and favourites to win the group.’
Antonio also provided some advice on the city itself.
‘Porto has grown enormously in the last few years, with the number of tourists, shops, stores, restaurants, bars and hotels continually on the rise.
‘Ribeira, Downton and Foz are the most beautiful areas of Porto and the most popular with tourists.
‘With regards to sightseeing, I would recommend the following places: Foz do Douro (the most chic, beautiful area of Porto, with river and sea views and everything you need from shops to restaurants), Ponte de D. Luis (King Louis Bridge), Livraria Lello (Lello bookstore), Mercado do Bolhao (Bolhao market), Avenida dos Clerigos (Clerigos Avenue), Igreja e Torre dos Clerigos, (Clerigos Tower and Church), Ribeira (Riverside area) and Casa da Musica (House of Music).
‘For supporters eager to do some shopping, Rua de Santa Catarina (Saint Catherine Street) is one of the best areas, while for those people looking for lively nightlife, Galerias de Paris (Paris Galleries near the Tower of Clerigos) is very entertaining.’