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The current Portuguese champions will be one of the favorites to make it out of Group A, but having to adapt to life after Hulk will not be an easy transition. Despite Hulk’s departure, head coach Vitor Pereira will be able to rely on Colombian international James Rodriguez to provide that offensive spark that Hulk would always provide for the Dragoes.
Porto’s success in Europe will make them a bigger threat considering their experience in big competitions. A European Cup in 1987 with Artur Jorge was just the beginning of a successful run for Porto. Jose Mourinho added a Europa League Cup in 2003 and a Champions League Cup in 2004, while Andre Villas-Boas added a Europa League Cup in 2011.
Playing in a much more competitive competition than it may have been a few years ago due to the amount of money invested in some of Europe’s finest, a team like Porto will remain competitive despite not being able to compete from a financial standpoint.
Porto fans will have been frustrated when they learned that Hulk had made his way to Russian side Zenit St. Petersburg. The Brazilian forward will be missed considering the influence he had in Porto’s style of play. He was not only a threat from set pieces, but his ability to take on multiple defenders with his incredible pace and strength made him a dangerous opponent to go up against.
With his departure, Joao Moutinho, Lucho Gonzalez and James Rodriguez will now have to take a step forward and help lead their club to the next round of the competition. Moutinho proved in Euro 2012 that he is among Europe’s elite midfielders and he too almost made a jump this summer until a £22 million deal fell through in the final hours with Tottenham Hotspur.
Another offensive option for Porto will be Ghanaian international Christian Atsu who was on loan with Rio Ave last season. His pace is one of his best characteristics as he will prove to be a headache for even some of the fastest defenders in Europe. He will have to earn his spot in Pereira’s side who also has Portuguese international Varela waiting in the wings.
Looking at the draw, Porto has to be considered one of the top two favorites along with PSG. Not only are they experienced in the competition, but they also have a very strong squad. New signing Jackson Martinez will have to help carry the goal scoring load with Hulk being gone, while Otamendi, Roland and Maicon will need to keep opponents off the score-sheet.
Porto’s offense and collective play should earn them a spot in the next round, but a slip up against either Dinamo Zagreb or Dynamo Kyiv could prove to be fatal for the Portuguese champions.