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Champions League

Chelsea warned about Porto’s “mentality” ahead of Champions League clash

Carlos Carvalhal has a warning for Chelsea ahead of their Champions League showdown with Porto.

“I remember before Porto played Juventus, Gazzetta dello Sport did an interview with me and I said: ‘Juventus-Porto will be 50-50.’” said Carvalhal. “The journalist repeated the question back to me as if to say: ‘Are you sure?!’ Yes, I am sure!

“ Chelsea must be careful because if you ask me about the percentage then I will tell you again: ‘it will be 50-50.’ Do not underestimate them.”

Former Swansea and Sheffield Wednesday boss Carvalhal, now in charge of Braga, offers a unique insight because his side knocked Porto out over two legs in the Portuguese Cup.

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That was before Porto upset all of the odds by knocking out Juventus in the Champions League to set up their quarter final showdown against Chelsea.

Porto stunned Juventus to set up a Champions league quarter-final meeting with Chelsea

It has immediately been talked up as an easy draw for Chelsea, a game they will be red-hot favourites to win and yet underestimating Porto is an easy mistake to make.

Carvalhal points to Jesus Manuel Corona, Moussa Marega, Sergio Oliveira and Mehdo Taremi as big dangers but their togetherness, their spirit instilled by manager Sérgio Conceição is their underlying strength.

Carvalhal, 55, said: “They are strong together as a collective. The main philosophy of Porto as a club, they enjoy the feeling that everyone is against them, the world is against them, that’s their mentality and they enjoy doing that.

Thomas Tuchel suffered his first blemish as Chelsea manager against West Brom at the weekend

“I know that mentality well because I played for Porto as well. The manager represents the club, he understands the soul of the club and when you see the way the team fights, what they stand for, you realise that comes from the character of the manager.

“Usually they play 4-4-2, it’s very difficult to find space between the lines, they press a lot, they defend very well but also they know how to play. They know how to attack, how to hurt opponents. But they are also very strong at closing games, defending and being compact.

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“Sometimes people don’t take Porto seriously as Portugal is not one of the big leagues in Europe. But it’s a very tough league to play in. Chelsea have a very difficult game. They’ve improved under Tuchel, I think they’ll challenge for the title next year but this will be tough.”

Carlos Carvalhal has sent a warning to Chelsea

Carvalhal is doing a super job at Braga, they reached the League Cup final, are now in the Portuguese Cup final and are fourth in the table plus playing good football and he is also defying one of Portuguese football’s unwritten rules.

“We have a saying in Portugal that clubs are not good mothers, it’s not a good idea to train your former club and they prefer people from other cities,” smiled Carvalhal. “That’s usually the case in Portugal. But it’s a challenge to the Braga supporters to prove that the club is a good mother.

“But the players are doing amazing. I think we’re playing the best football in Portugal, I think, very offensive, attacking and we’re getting a lot of compliments from opposing managers. We’re doing amazing across several competitions.”

Carvalhal also keeps a close eye on both his former clubs in England and would still like to return to English football one day in the future.

He added: “I follow every Sheffield Wednesday game, I hope they can stay in the Championship, I believe they will, they must win their last games and of course Swansea, also. I would love if it if Swansea could go to the Premier League and Wednesday stay up.

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“I think it would be natural for me to go back to England. If you’d asked me when I left Swansea if I wanted to stay, then I said yes. I had some offers from England after I left, I had an offer from Flamengo, but it’s been so difficult with the pandemic.

“For me, English football is so important because of the fans. It’s the country of football. And I believe I will go back one day because of the fans. Football with the fans, scoring goals and that’s always been my dream since childhood.”

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