UEFA Champions League Round of 16 1st Leg preview: Can Porto get the better of the rampant Gunners?

 

Free scoring Arsenal will look to draw first blood in their clash with FC Porto at the Estadio Do Dragao. The Gunners have been in fine form of late, winning their last five league games and scoring 21 goals in the process. Impressively, 11 of those goals have come in their last two games, both away from home, with a 6-0 bashing of West Ham followed by a 5-0 hammering of Burnley at the weekend. 

Mikel Arteta’s men finished top of Group B, four points clear of runners up PSV after posting four wins, one draw and one defeat against Lens in their six games. Opponents Porto were runners up against Barcelona, finishing level on points with the Catalans after losing both games against them. 

They were 2-0 winners over Estrela in the Portuguese League at the weekend, but that is the only win in their last three league matches. Containing the Gunners won’t be easy, but Sergio Conceicao’s men were 2-1 winners here in the knockout stages 14 years ago, only to then lose 5-0 in London. Can the Dragons pull off an upset this time?

Napoli and Barcelona will face off at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium, as both teams aim to seize a first leg advantage. 

Defending Serie A champions Napoli have had a season to forget so far, as they lie ninth on the table having registered just 10 wins from 24 games and 8 defeats. 

Following last season’s title success, Luciano Spalletti stepped down as manager, but replacement Rudi Garcia was sacked after they fell 10 points off the pace in the League.

Walter Mazzari was brought in to replace him, but results got worse, and after a 1-1 draw at the weekend with Genoa, Mazzari was given the boot as well. Francesco Calzona will take charge of this tie, and will look to achieve a positive result.

Napoli finished runners up to Real Madrid in Group C, picking up three wins, two draws and one defeat. Barca on the other hand have been far from convincing this season, lying third in La Liga and being knocked out of the Copa Del Rey. 

They finished top of Group H, picking up four wins and two defeats. The Blaugrana come into this on the back of a 2-1 win over Celta Vigo, with Champions League veteran Robert Lewandowski bagging a brace. Barca were 4-2 winners at this stadium in the Europa League two years ago, and will be hoping for more of the same this time around.