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Thursday, 20 February 2014 19:18

FC Porto 2-2 Eintracht Frankfurt

Dragons jeopardise their chances of progressing

europa-league-logo.jpgPorto emblem.gifFC Porto kicked off their Europa League campaign the same way they put an end to their Champions League qualifying stage, putting in yet another unimpressive display against an average Eintracht Frankfurt.

This season's Champions League group stage had not left a good impression on the reigning Portuguese champions. Given their stuttering form in the Portuguese League, a deep run in Europe's second-tier competition could just be what the doctor ordered for a team that seem to be running on fumes over the past few months (even the traditionally loyal supporters appear to be gradually turning their back on the team).

Paulo Fonseca named an almost unchanged eleven (his only change - Maicon for Abdoulaye - was forced upon him, since the latter is cup-tied), with Herrera keeping his place alongside Fernando and Josué just off Jackson Martínez. On the wings, Quaresma started on the right and Varela on the left, but the pair would often change positions (decisively so, one might say). 

It's fair to say that FC Porto have been playing in less schizophrenic fashion recently, i.e. committing less men forward willy-nilly, instead of charging up the field only to often see the ball hit the back of the net in the wrong half of the pitch. While it doesn't indicate all's well in the Dragons' kingdom, it does mean that the team are now less likely to be exposed to opposing breaks, one after the other (for instance, as against Austria Vienna, not a very different match from tonight's).

There was no bus-parking from Eintracht Frankfurt, who, on the contrary, left themselves exposed by their own actions. With two forwards up front (Joselu and Meier), central midfielders Schwegler and Russ would often move forward to support the attacking move, taking their time to get back. That was one of the main reasons for barely believable number of times Josué was allowed to break down the centre, only to be frustrated by his own decision-making and his team-mates' lack of movement - often an indicator of the players' unwillingness to take responsibility.

Despite decent half-chances through Quaresma (namely when he switched flanks with Varela) and Jackson Martínez - pitted against two rather slow centre-backs - FC Porto were not exactly deserving of a commanding lead. In a stop-and-go contest, the stalemate looked all but set until Quaresma did what he was signed to do: he won the ball back near the touch line (slightly out of character), took his direct marker on, drifted inside and hit a delightful, trademark swirling shot toward the goalkeeper's far post from the edge of the penalty box. Half-time, FC Porto were in the lead.

Second half

After breaking the deadlock, the Dragons were expected to control the match and wait for the right moment to pounce, but Eintracht Frankfurt were still able to create something during the first few minutes of the second period. As time wore on, though, the German team looked increasingly tired and the gaping hole in the middle just kept getting bigger. However, FC Porto were not able to capitalise on it, particularly because there seems to be little option but to get the ball to the wings and cross it. Last season's Portuguese champions were still able to increase their lead on the 68th minute when Quaresma aimed a free kick at Maicon, who seemed to mishit a shot but inadvertently sent the ball Varela's way for the winger to put into a deserted goal. 

Still, FC Porto showed once again they are far from the well-oiled machine they have been over the past decade and allowed Eintracht Frankfurt an easy way back into the game, firstly by allowing Joselu to bury a rebound from outside the penalty box and then mixing their defensive set pieces duties once again, offering the Germans the 2-2 draw on a silver plate. While it can be (justly) said that FC Porto were more proactive in looking for the result, the game offered more clear proof that the team struggle to control and kill matches off, since there seems to be little coordination between the side's different sectors.

By the end of it, Paulo Fonseca did his usual thing: Ghilas was summoned for the last minutes, with FC Porto producing nothing to show for it as a result. It is still quite baffling to notice FC Porto players' glaring lack of options: When the ball gets to one of the central midfielders, there's only one movement (one of the wingers drops back and drifts inside); when the ball gets to the wings, the scenario looks even bleaker, with the winger seemingly forced to solve things on his own (hence Quaresma's signing, one presumes). When the ball is eventually given away, there still seems to be little idea on how to respond.

by Vasco Mota Pereira

FC Porto:
Helton; Danilo, Maicon, Mangala, Alex Sandro; Fernando (Ghilas, 83'), Herrera, Quaresma, Josué (Carlos Eduardo 68'), Varela; Jackson Martínez

Eintracht Frankfurt:
Trapp; Jung, Zambrano, Madlung, Oczipka; Rode (Barnetta, 72'), Schwegler, Russ, Flum (Lanig, 89'); Maier (Aigner, 90'), Joselu

[1-0] Quaresma, 45',
[2-0] Varela, 69',
[2-1] Joselu, 73',
[2-2] Russ, 78'

Comments (12)
Porto's player selection
12 Sunday, 23 February 2014 06:10
Guffren Ernest/USA
There is a player sitting out every game who's better than all the ones on the field. If you don't know who it is you have no idea about the game. I'll say no more, but if he stays healthy you'll be talking about him a lot in a couple of years. But he needs playing time because he has a lot more talent than any other player in the team
Quaresma-always was a fan, and always will be
11 Sunday, 23 February 2014 04:41
The goal wasn't just fantastic, he dispossessed their fullback of the ball and then scored. That says it all.
Porto Has Reached a New Low!
10 Saturday, 22 February 2014 07:13
Tony, CA
This decline has been in the works for the last couple years and now they have reached the bottom of the valley. The only question is how deep is this valley?

Coach, players, scouting, and management need a major overhaul. This is a deep shame and embarrassment to Portuguese football regardless if you are a fan of the club or not..

The fact Quaresma is on the team is a sign of few ideas and limited options.

Please start the rebuilding process ASAP and stop the shame brought on this one proud club!
9 Friday, 21 February 2014 21:24
Varela named as a top player at Porto.
Enough said.
Hey NJ
8 Friday, 21 February 2014 18:50
Chris (Canada)
I agree with the tactical criticism of Paulo Fonseca, but you'd better not make fun of him about not knowing which team he played.

If you do, you may be sent over to New-cassen.
Fonseca has to go
7 Friday, 21 February 2014 18:40
I cant understand why people keep blaming the coach, I honestly believe this team would perform in this way regardless of who the coach is! Lucho, James and Moutinho were massive players and made the difference, any team in world football would decline if the top players are constantly moved on. apart from Jackson, fernando, Mangala and Varela where is this ton of talent? What happens when Fernando, Jackson and Mangala go to the Premier league next season are you still gonna blame the coach then??????
Some Thoughts
6 Friday, 21 February 2014 13:56
I actually watched some of this match, and had a couple of thoughts.

- Quaresma's goal was special. But as the commentator I was listening to said, that's why teams have been putting up with all the other mistakes he makes. For me, the guy just doesn't have good on the field smarts. Poor movement with poor decisions.
Please keep in mind, against better competition Quaresma will never be allowed to cut back to his right for the shot. Good teams will send him wide.
The only reason he even gets a sniff at possibly going to the World Cup is due to all the injuries and having players not getting regular playing time at their clubs. Not a good situation for Bento.

- Am I the only one that was disappointed with Fernando's performance.

- How many times did Josue run at the defense, at pace, without a clue to what to do? Oh yeah, just bomb away or keep going and lose it. Horrible.

- I loved the following the best;

"Paulo Fonseca enganou-se duas vezes ao citar o nome do clube que o FC Porto defrontou ontem no Dragão. Referiu-se, primeiro, ao campeão europeu liderado agora por Guardiola.

«O Bayern não chegou à nossa baliza», apontou no flash-interview. Na mesma peça em direto para a SIC, o treinador dos dragões voltou a equivocar-se instantes mais tarde, a propósito da necessidade de vencer fora.
«Temos agora de ganhar em Leverkusen», destacou, referindo-se a outro histórico da Alemanha."

Same press conference. Fonseca has gone from not having a clue on the field, to not having a clue off it as well.
He's gone, even if Porto win the league. The question is if he makes it to the end of the campaign.
5 Friday, 21 February 2014 12:05
John NYC
It was a tough game to watch last night. TWO PEOPLE NEED TO GO; FONSECA and OUR GOALIE. We went from being a world class team to a shameful team. Last night when we were winning 2-0, why didnt we just kill time (like Barcelona does) and hold on to the ball? Why on earth did we let them score 2 goals within 5 minutes? shameful, shameful and shameful.
4 Friday, 21 February 2014 06:06
Deco/ South Africa
I love the fact that Quaresma scores a pretty nice goal and now all of a sudden the commentators say he must be in the running to go to the world cup in Brazil. I really doubt he would even make a squad of 50 if 50 was the number of players permitted to go. Bento does not like players with attitude, sorry Q7 to little to too late..
fingers have to point at PF as usual
3 Friday, 21 February 2014 04:21
it's like this team has no coach at all. he has the tactical intellect of a shoe lace. he doesn't really effect the game, i don't see him pushing his team on. if he wasn't on the sideline no one would notice.

as for the team, there's a ton of talent all over the field but what the team lacks is a leader to take control of the game before it gets out of hand. usually it's the playmaking midfielder which we don't really have. Herrera looks like he has potential to fill the role eventually. for now we're screwed.
Fonseca has to go.
2 Friday, 21 February 2014 01:08
Dan Montreal
This team has underperformed time and time again. There are no revelations so this year... There have been some good performances but no one has consistently stood out. Martinez is not playing as well this season. This team reminds me of AVBs tottenham. Isolated striker, long wayward shots. And no real rhythm or sense of urgency. I think this team needs a new coach we tied entracht Frankfurt at home... This team is shameful.
1 Thursday, 20 February 2014 22:11
It would have been nearly impossible for Porto to continually sell off its best players and expect the same results. This is a very disappointing result against a weak opponent that is nowhere near being a title contender in Germany and the loss was in Porto no less. No way Benfica will lose the title to this Porto team this season.

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