This is a knockout semifinal League Cup tie between Porto and Academica, which in the event of a draw will be followed by extra time and a penalty shootout if need be. The head coaches of the bigger name clubs usually rest players in this competition given their European commitments and other more important domestic matters so we rarely see them field first choice starting XI’s.
Porto - Academica
Porto head coach Jesualdo Ferreira is expected to do exactly that today and leave out either by choice to rest them the following players: Helton (regular keeper with 17 appearances), Rolando (regular central defender with 17 appearances and 2 goals), Fucile (regular right back with 15 appearances), Rodriguez (forward with 13 appearances), Farias (forward with 15 apps and 5 goals), Meireles (regular midfielder, 16 apps), Hulk (forward, 12 apps, 2 goals). Regular forward Falcao (17 apps, 14 goals) is expected to start, while regular defensive midfielder Fernando (16 apps) makes his return.
On the other hand, Academica travel to Porto with 1500 supporters by their side and very optimistic of gaining a positive result. They come off a huge win at Alvalade against Sporting (2-1), which was also their first away win of the season. Midfielder Paulo Sergio (7 appearances), forward Eder (13 apps and 1 goal), are unavailable, while returning to the fold after injuries are midfielders Cris and Tiero, forward Sougou and right back Pedrinho, who are all regular members of the team.
Selection: The Porto reserves have gotten the team to this stage of the competition but against the Academica first team choice I think they have less chance that what the odds on offer from betting agencies suggest. Asian handicap +1.25 is about evens at this stage and one of my selections for the day.