FC Porto v Manchester City 20:05 Thurs
Possibly the most enticing European fixture of the week, FC Porto’s match against Manchester City poses a massive challenge for the Portuguese side with Ladbrokes making them long odds as they hope to hold onto their Europa League title with a double-winning campaign a considerable possibility for Roberto Mancini’s men.
The Primeira Liga champions triumphed in last year’s tournament with a final win over domestic rivals Sporting Braga, however this week they may face more difficult opposition than they faced in the entirety of that campaign.
Manchester City currently head the Premier League table above Manchester United – who are also playing in the tournament on Thursday – and are always capable of scoring big.
However, statistics point to the fact that Porto currently boast the best defence in Portugal and have conceded on average just 0.60 goals per game this season when playing at the Estadio de Dragão.
The Citizens may have begun to drop points here and there in the English top flight but retain a two-point lead over Manchester United and will surely se the Premier League title as a priority for this season.
Manchester City have won only five of their last ten fixtures and are admittedly stumbling through a rocky patch ahead of their Europa League encounter with Porto.
With this in mind, City’s first-leg visit to Portugal makes for a very enticing fixture as Manchester City hope to bring to an away goal advantage back to the Etihad Stadium for the two clubs’ second-leg encounter later this month.
With Roberto Mancini’s team currently in the driving seat of the Premier league, the mercurial Italian looks likely to bring back Mario Balotelli, who has served a four-match domestic suspension, while Yaya and Kolo Toure could return to the starting line up after African Nations Cup involvement.
Porto and Vitor Pereira will have to make do without recent signing from FC Twente Marc Janko, who scored on his debut but is ineligible to play tonight after already making an appearance for the Dutch club, while Lucho Gonzalez also misses out due to similar circumstances.