While the race for the league title against Benfica is in strong contention, Porto still had their minds on qualifying for the quarter finals of the Champions League. After a scored draw (1-1) at St. Jakob Park last month, the Portuguese club had Basel and 90 minutes between them and qualification.
On the 10th of March, FC Porto welcomed the reigning Swiss champions to Estádio do Dragão. A 4-0 victory for the home side dealt an aggregate score of 5-1, dumping Basel out of the tournament and securing a berth in the final 8 of Europe’s most elite competition.
Porto were tactically astute on the night, from the very first whistle. The primary goal that the Porto XI set out to do was to stretch the Basel side as much as possible. The fullbacks touching the sidelines meant that Basel’s wingers were drawn out wide, Porto’s wingers too keep to the touchline, stretching the Basel back four. Another key element replays of the match will show you is how Porto went about winning the second ball. Porto’s central midfielders played a high pressing game, which defensively put pressure on the Basel midfielders, while simultaneously having positioned them suitably to pounce on any ball that was knocked down after a long ball to their forward men. With Basel learning over time that they were being made to chase the ball more often than not, the team decided to compress their formation in order to get a lot tighter rather than stretched. Porto reacted to this excellently, efficiently switching play from flank to flank until space was created.
We’ve got a video explaining the above mentioned tactics to help you visualise the occurrences better. The footage cited are examples from the very game that assured qualification to Porto. This video and the tactical analysis was made by Krzysztof Sierocki.
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