Saturday, April 4, 2009

Dragões v Vitória de Guimarães match preview

Following the international break Os Dragões return to Liga action as they make the short trip to face Vitória de Guimarães. With Porto holding a solid point lead over Sporting they will be looking to maintain pressure with a victory over their north-eastern neighbours but without a doubt have an eye towards Tuesday's Champions League battle against Manchester United.

As always the challenge of the international week is a trying one and in conjunction with Tuesday's affair Porto manager Jesualdo Ferreira has a number of issues to deal with. Lucho González, Lisandro López and Cristian Rodríguez returned Friday evening from representing their homeland and are far from being match-fit and most likely to be used with caution. Fortuitously Lisandro López is in the sin-bin for the match and it is likely best given the upcoming encounter. Ventura who proudly represented Portugal U21 side in the XIII Torneio Internacional da Madeira, will miss due to injury with Rabiola stepping-in. The match has come too soon in the recovery of Nelson Benítez, Pedro Emanuel, Freddy Guarín and Jorge Fucile as each race towards optimum fitness next week.

Conceding the difficulty of playing at Estádio D. Afonso Henriques, Jesualdo Ferreira said of his defensive minded opposition:

"The match against Vitória de Guimarães is important for many reasons: is the upcoming match, it comes in a good sequence of matches for us, it’s against a strong opponent and it will be played at a complicated venue. It comes in a bittersweet time of the season. It’s good because we’re on top of the league but is bad because we’ve had a long pause that braked up our rhythm"

Manuel Cajuda's Guimarães's side have suffered through a difficult campaign to-date and sit near dead-centre of the middle. However on the strength of the two match winning streak, including the recent 1-0 defeat of Benfica, they are looking to for a last gasp run towards a Europa League spot.