FC Krasnodar vs FC Porto for the Champions League qualifying match on Wednesday at JKuban Stadium.
Krasnodar did not get a direct qualifying place for the Champions League by the minimum margin, they ended up tied with the same points as Lokomotiv and had to be satisfied with third place.
Right now, the team is in some form, and they hope to make a reasonable game with the advantage of playing at home in the first leg. Krasnodar in their last meeting drew 1-1 with Zenit St Petersburg, a match for the Russian Championship this Saturday.
Murad Musaev’s men often have a hard time defending, so they have conceded goals with some regularity, in five of the last six matches. Aleksandr Martynovich and Uros Spajic are expected to continue the central defence duo, while Ivan Ignatiev is expected to retain titularity after playing against Zenit.
Porto was in front of the Portuguese league almost all season, just lost the place, already in the final straight for Benfica. The hurt had a double shock as they weren’t allowed to qualify directly for the Champions League.
Now they will find a team that suffered the same kind of pain, so this round should be very even and well played. Porto’s defence remains the mainstay of the group, it has been one of Porto’s hallmarks in past seasons. Last season, they conceded just 20 goals in their 34 league games.
FC Porto is a team with a lot of experience at the international level, and this can be a determining factor in the outcome of this round. Porto travels to Russia after a 1-0 loss to the Monaco team in a friendly preseason game.
Sergio Conceição’s men managed to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League last season, and with their skills, I believe they can make it to the group stage.
Tiquinho Soares, who scored 21 goals for Porto last season in all competitions, is the striker the Russians have to fear. The Brazilian is poised for the new season, pairing up with fearsome Moussa Marega, who has also scored 21 goals in all competitions last year.
Sérgio Conceição’s work has been very satisfactory, but sometimes there is some lack of combativeness in his attack. I think it will be a very balanced game, but my bet is on the Portuguese win.