Emirates Cup: What to Expect from FC Porto
With the Emirates Cup beginning on Saturday, Bleacher Report takes a look at what to expect from Porto FC, one of four the participants.
While the Portuguese side won't face the hosts of the tournament, fans should still be interested in watching one of Europe's most exciting teams. Participation in the Emirates Cup will signal the end of Porto's preseason.
There have been some major changes for the Portuguese champions this summer, having lost James Rodriquez, but manager Paulo Fonseca still has some solid talent in the squad.
Here's what to expect from Porto FC during the upcoming Emirates Cup.
Porto has long been known as a team that nurtures talent in Portugal before selling them for a massive profit.
This current squad is no exception. Youngsters including Juan Iturbe, Juan Quintero, Hector Herrera, Alex Sandro, Danilo and Eliaquim Mangala are set to play important roles in the side.
Juan Iturbe, the attacker on this list, has yet to live up to his billing as the next Lionel Messi.
With that being said, the 20-year-old is in the right place to fulfill his potential.
Juan Quintero and Hector Herrera are new additions, and both have seen their stock rise massively in the last year or so.
Quintero, one of Colombia's bright talents, drew attention with some fantastic displays with Pescara during the 2012/13 season. He continued his good form at the recent FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Meanwhile, Herrera's rise came mainly through his performances with Mexico during the 2012 Olympics. He is now set to bring his all-action style of play to Europe.
Alex Sandro and Danilo are two Brazilian full-backs, though Danilo is capable of playing elsewhere. We'll get to them a little later on in this slideshow.
Eliaquim Mangala made his debut for the French national team earlier this year after impressing during the season with Porto. Tall, strong, good in the air and with decent pace, the 22-year-old Mangala may play a part in France's resurgence on the international stage.
While players and managers have gone to and from Porto in recent times, one thing has remained pretty constant.
The formation of choice has been 4-3-3 for the Portuguese club, with plenty of speed and skill on the wings, clinical finishing at the top, vision in the middle third and organization at the back.
No matter who is on the pitch, expect to see that lineup from the Portuguese side.
The preferred starting formation may look a little like this:
Helton; Danilo, Nicolas Otamendi, Eliaquim Mangala, Alex Sandro; Lucho Gonzalez, Fernando, Steven Defour; Juan Iturbe, Jackson Martinez, Silvestre Varela
Danilo and Alex Sandro bring plenty of energy, speed, flair and width to the Porto attack.
Both players love to get forward, and have the technical skills to be quite a threat to the opposition. As statistics on Transfermarkt show, Danilo had two goals and four assists last season while Sandro picked up one goal and four assists.
Both players are 22 years old, and will likely be on the radar of the Brazilian national team in the near future.
We've spoken of young talents like Iturbe and Quintero. They both possess much creativity, but are complemented by some very experienced teammates.
Lucho Gonzalez, Steven Defour and Marat Izmailov are among the names to remember, and each brings a different element to the Porto lineup.
Gonzalez provides a goal-scoring threat, with eight goals in 33 games last season, but is more than capable of dictating play and providing the final pass as well. Steven Defour brings a little more grit to the side, but he too has the technical ability to ensure Porto play fluid football. He'll likely get a lot more playing time this season with Joao Moutinho gone.
Marat Izmailov has the ability to take on and beat players with his speed and dribbling, but injuries get in the way of him playing regularly.
There are others, including Silvestre Varela, who can pose a threat to the opposition and make this team a very dangerous one.
A Side in Good Form
Porto has played in six preseason matches so far this summer, and have yet to lose a game. These two Emirates Cup games will give the side a chance to knock out any remaining cobwebs before they embark on their long season.
While the opposition in the Emirates Cup will be tough, they've already beaten Marseille and Celta Vigo this summer.
They will be confident, and given the amount of games they've played so far this preseason, they may be a little ahead of their opposition in terms of preparation.