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Why Porto tie is 'The Special One'

FC Porto

FC Porto

It’s almost unbelievable that City and Porto have never competitively met before – well, unless you count the 2006 Thomas Cook Trophy clash, that is!

The Portuguese side, Champions League winners just nine years ago and current Europa League champions, are firmly established as a force in world football, thanks in no small part to Jose Mourinho’s influence and, more recently Andre Villas-Boas.

But far from churning out a production line of Chelsea managers, Porto have a tradition that pre-dates The Special One and Villas-Boas’ heavily influenced persona that is, in many ways, a ‘mini-Mourinho’.

In the past decade, they have won the Primeira League eight times, the UEFA Cup and Europa League as well as the aforementioned Champions League success back in 2003.

They have won their domestic league 45 times to date and have also won the European Cup in 1987 (their first European trophy) and were European Cup Winners’ Cup runners-up in 1983.

The Dragões (Dragons), play their football at the 50,339-capacity Estádio do Dragão stadium and have been in existence for 118 years.

Though there have been a couple of friendlies over the years, the 2006 Thomas Cook Trophy being the most recent with Porto winning 1-0 at what was then the City of Manchester Stadium courtesy of Adriano’s 43rd-minute winner.

Today, the club is managed by Vítor Pereira who couldn’t contain his delight at drawing the Blues: “Two great games are in prospect, with teams coming from the Champions League, one leading the Premier League and us, leading the Portuguese League," he said.

“The focus and motivational levels will be high. It is a team that we know well, thanks to the matches on television. It is a very demanding game and the reaction I had from the players was excitement.

“That is how we will be facing this round. If we want to defend a title that belongs to us, we have to bear in mind that playing against Manchester City now or later on is the same. It is an exciting opponent and we have our weapons."

One of those weapons is undoubtedly Brazilian forward ‘Hulk’ who will be hoping to turn scouts from other clubs green with performances against the Blues.

One of nine Brazilians in the Porto squad, his 66 goals in 147 matches so far merit respect – as does his strength and power and ability to create chances for others.

As for the city itself, based on the northern coast, it is the second largest in Portugal and will make an interesting destination to a few thousand City fans who will travel there next February for what should be a fascinating encounter.

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