20/05/2024

Preview: Arouca vs. Porto - prediction, team news, lineups

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Preview: Arouca vs. Porto - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Monday's Primeira Liga clash between Arouca and Porto, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Sports Mole previews Monday's Primeira Liga clash between Arouca and Porto, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

On the back of an energy-sapping Taca de Portugal semi-final success, Porto quickly turn their attention back to the Primeira Liga title fight, travelling to Arouca on Monday night.

Sergio Conceicao's men have a four-point deficit to make up to leaders Benfica as things stand, while their opponents' eight-game unbeaten run was brought to an end last time out.


Match preview

Arouca's Antony celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on January 24, 2023© Reuters

Making quite the impression during the early weeks of spring, Arouca made their way to Rio Ave having posted five wins and three draws from their most recent eight Primeira Liga matches, conceding just two goals in the process to remain in control of their European destiny.

However, Armando Evangelista's men would come up short in a 1-0 loss to their mid-table opponents last Friday, as substitute Paulo Vitor came up with the only goal of the match with 69 minutes on the clock, and an added-time red card to Renato Pantalon did not derail the hosts' bid for victory either.

Prior to their disheartening defeat at Rio Ave, only Braga and Benfica had got the better of Evangelista's troops in the Primeira Liga since the turn of the year, and a place in Europe is still within touching distance for Arouca, who are clinging on to fifth spot in the table as things stand.

The hosts cannot finish any higher than their current ranking, which would book them a place in the third round of Europa Conference League qualifying, and they hold a healthy four-point advantage over Vitoria de Guimaraes with just four games left to play.

While Arouca's hardiness is there for all to see, a lack of ruthlessness is still plaguing Evangelista's men; the Arouquenses have only scored more than once in two of their last 14 games, but defence should be the best form of attack against a fatigued Porto outfit.

Porto coach Sergio Conceicao on April 30, 2023© Reuters

Simply needing to maintain or build upon a 2-1 lead from the first leg of their Taca de Portugal semi-final with Famalicao, Porto instead found themselves on the brink of a decisive penalty shootout, as Jhonder Cadiz and Ivan Jaime struck either side of Galeno's response to force extra time in Thursday's second leg.

However, as the beleaguered visitors' legs began to tire, Porto finally made their pressure tell in extra-time injury time, as Otavio and Evanilson made the net ripple to send Sergio Conceicao's men through to the final in the most dramatic of circumstances.

Before they defend their crown against Braga in June, the reigning Primeira Liga and Taca de Portugal champions return to the title scrap in the top flight, and time is running out for Conceicao's side to dethrone Benfica at the summit.

Porto may have won each of their last five Primeira Liga matches, but they are relying on Benfica to slip up at least twice if they are to usurp the table-toppers, who could temporarily extend their advantage at the top to seven points by overcoming Braga in Saturday evening's blockbuster contest.

The Dragons will at least bring a 13-game unbeaten away run in the Primeira Liga into their showdown with Arouca, who have lost 11 of their 12 meetings with Porto down the years, the outlier being a surprise 2-1 win at the Estadio do Dragao seven years ago.

Arouca Primeira Liga form:
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • L

Porto Primeira Liga form:
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W


Porto form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W



Team News

Porto's Mateus Uribe celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on April 7, 2023© Reuters

Arouca right-back Tiago Esgaio picked up a suspension-inducing yellow card on the stroke of half time against Rio Ave, so a recall should be in order for Ukrainian defender Bogdan Milovanov against the champions.

The hosts' loss to Rio Ave coincided with the absence of Joao Basso, who was recently named the league's defender of the month for April, due to a muscular injury, and the 26-year-old is not expected back in time to tackle Porto in a devastating blow for Evangelista.

Oday Dabbagh (muscle) and Vitinho (unspecified) are also in the treatment room for Arouca, who will rely on Rafa Mujica to spearhead their three-pronged attack as the ex-Leeds United youngster aims to build on the eight league goals that he has already struck this season.

While Arouca have lost a defender to suspension, Porto will welcome one back, as Ivan Marcano served a ban in the 3-2 win over Famalicao for his straight red card in their most recent league battle with Boavista.

Only Joao Mario should be absent due to injury - the right-back is nursing a muscular problem - but Colombian midfielder Mateus Uribe has now incurred a ban for yellow card accumulation, opening the door for Stephen Eustaquio to return.

With almost all of his troops available, Conceicao should not shy away from making a number of alterations after a taxing 120 minutes in the cup, as Evanilson and Mehdi Taremi eye immediate recalls to the attack.

Arouca possible starting lineup:
De Arruabarrena; Milovanov, Galovic, Opoku, Quaresma; Simao, Busquets, Ruiz; Antony, Mujica, Sylla

Porto possible starting lineup:
Costa; Manafa, Pepe, Marcano, Sanusi; Pepe, Grujic, Eustaquio, Otavio; Evanilson, Taremi


SM words green background

We say: Arouca 0-2 Porto

Coming up against an Arouca defence that have proven incredibly difficult to break down is the last thing that the doctor ordered for a tired Porto side, but the hosts have lost some of their defensive nous with skipper Basso absent.

While it may ultimately not be enough to see them retain their crown, a rejigged Porto side should still run out comfortable winners on Monday, delaying Benfica's expected coronation that little bit longer.



For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.


Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting an away win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Away Win:data

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