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Primeira Liga | Gameweek 21
Feb 12, 2024 at 8.15pm UK
Estadio Municipal de Arouca
3 - 2
Mujica (1'), Cristo (30' pen.), Jason (60')
Santos (39'), Jason (63'), Busquets (74')
FT(HT: 2-1)
Evanilson (9' pen.), Conceicao (86')
Cardoso (69'), Conceicao (88'), Wendell (88')
Cardoso (90+6')

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.

Still trailing behind Portugal's top two, Porto travel to Arouca on Monday, when they will seek three points to get their title challenge back on track.

However, their hosts are looking for a fourth straight victory, having fired home nine goals in their last three matches.

Match preview

Porto coach Sergio Conceicao reacts on January 14, 2024© Reuters

Allowing Lisbon rivals Sporting CP and Benfica to stay clear at the top of the Primeira Liga, Porto dropped points at home to Rio Ave last week, as they had to settle for a goalless draw after seeing two goals disallowed for offside and having a penalty overturned by the VAR.

Though that extended the Dragons' unbeaten streak to eight games in all competitions, they remain in third place, some six points behind league leaders Benfica; four shy of second-placed Sporting.

In midweek, Porto's Taca de Portugal quarter-final tie with Santa Clara was abandoned when referee Gustavo Correia stopped proceedings in the 27th minute, due to the poor state of the pitch after heavy rain.

With that game rescheduled for the end of February, Sergio Conceicao's side now face an intense spell of fixture congestion, as they will also resume their Champions League campaign later this month, with a last-16 clash against Arsenal.

First, though, Porto turn their attention back to the league, where they have posted seven wins from 10 road trips so far. Also undefeated in seven Primeira Liga meetings with Arouca since 2016 - outscoring Monday's hosts 19-2 in the process - they start favourites to prevail.

Arouca's Cristo celebrates scoring their first goal with Tiago Esgaio on September 3, 2023© Reuters

However, the Dragons may find themselves tamed by their more modest neighbours: in September's reverse fixture, Arouca held out for a 1-1 draw at Estadio Do Dragao, with an Evanilson equaliser sparing Porto's blushes deep into stoppage time after Cristo Gonzalez had opened the scoring.

The Oporto-based side are also enjoying a fine run of form in the Primeira Liga, where they sit seventh following three wins on the spin.

Having seen off Estoril and rock-bottom Vizela, Daniel Sousa's men left Portimao with maximum points last time out, thanks to a 2-1 win over mid-table rivals Portimonense.

Gonzalez failed to find the net on that occasion, but the other half of Arouca's Spanish strike force scored again, as Rafa Mujica struck just after half time, before centre-back Matias Rocha added a crucial second.

Now, Sousa faces the considerable challenge of tackling Porto back at Estadio Municipal de Arouca, where his side have won only three of 10 Primeira Liga home fixtures so far, while conceding more than a goal per game.

Arouca Primeira Liga form:

Arouca form (all competitions):

Porto Primeira Liga form:

Porto form (all competitions):

Team News

Porto's Evanilson celebrates scoring against Royal Antwerp on October 25, 2023© Reuters

Although star striker Mehdi Taremi may be back in contention following Iran's Asian Cup exit, Porto full-back Zaidu Sanusi is still away with Nigeria at the Africa Cup of Nations and remains unavailable.

Long-term absentee Ivan Marcano also misses out for the visitors, but midfielder Marko Grujic could overcome a muscular problem to play some part in Monday's game.

While Evanilson is the Dragons' leading league scorer this season, netting eight goals to date, Arouca's Rafa Mujica has 12 to his name.

The latter joins compatriot Cristo Gonzalez up front for the hosts, with former Valencia winger Jason also likely to feature in the final third.

Arouca boss Daniel Sousa will be without Brazilian duo Quaresma and Vitinho due to injury, while January signing Yanis Hamache is still hampered by a muscular issue.

Arouca possible starting lineup:
De Arruabarrena; Esgaio, Bambu, Rocha, Weverson; Simao, Santos; Jason, Gonzalez, Sylla; Mujica

Porto possible starting lineup:
Costa; Mario, Cardoso, Pepe, Wendell; Varela, Nico; Conceicao, Pepe, Galeno; Evanilson

SM words green background

We say: Arouca 1-2 Porto

While Arouca are proving themselves no pushovers, Porto have regularly beaten their regional rivals in the past and are in the mood to release some frustration; following an unlucky draw and an abandoned match last week, a slim away win could be on the cards.

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

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Porto's Joao Mario celebrates scoring their first goal with Pepe on December 29, 2023
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