As matchday 21 of Liga Portugal beckons, Porto will engage with Rio Ave at the Estadio do Dragao on Saturday night. The Dragons are amidst an excellent run of form as they sit second in the Liga Portugal standings with 48 points. On the other hand, the visitors are placed eleventh on the table with 24 points. In the last Liga Portugal meeting between the two sides, Rio Ave cruised to a comfortable 3-1 victory against the odds, and Porto will be looking to return the favour this time on home territory.
In Liga Portugal 2022-23, Porto have won 15, drawn three, and lost two matches. They have scored 47 goals past the opposition this term and average 2.21 xG per match. The defence has conceded only 12 goals in return, with an average xGA of 0.79. Sergio Conceicao’s side is amidst an excellent run of form, going unbeaten in ten matches since losing to league leaders Benfica in October. Currently, they are on a five-game winning streak.
Rio Ave, on the other hand, have won six, drawn six, and lost eight out of 20 matches thus far. They have scored 20 goals and conceded 24 in total. The average xG rate of the team is 0.81, while their average xGA rate is 1.51. The team managed by Luis Freire is in poor form. They finally returned to winning ways last week against Estoril Praia after drawing three and losing three of the previous six matches. Below, we look at the stats of both teams from the current season to comprehend how this matchup could play out.
Overall performance of both teams
The above viz shows the percentile rank of both teams compared with each other as well as with other teams in Liga Portugal 2022-23. In all the indicators, Porto have a substantially higher percentile rank than Rio Ave. One area where the visitors fare equally in terms of ranking is the number of entries into the opposition penalty area per 90 minutes.
The hosts possess excellent home form. Porto have won eight times and lost only once when they have played at Estadio do Dragao. They will want to secure maximum points against Rio Ave to stay in the title race and retain the pressure on Benfica, who lead by five points.
Meanwhile, Rio Ave’s form on the road has been poor, with only one win and four losses out of ten matches. To come away with a positive result against a superb Porto side, the visitors will have to deliver another special performance, as they did in the reverse fixture.
Positional attacks and entries to the final third
The two visuals above compare the two teams based on positional attacks and entries to the final third per 90 minutes. The disparity between the two teams is clearly evident from the difference in their rankings on the list.
Porto creates 33.6 positional attacks per match, with 31.1% leading to shots. The hosts also make 47 entries into the final third per match. They have the highest efficiency rate for positional plays and are second in terms of final-third entries. We can expect Porto to dictate play and be on the front foot right from the start in this fixture.
On the other hand, Rio creates 26.6 positional attacks on average, with 18.6% leading to shots. They have among the lowest efficiency rates for positional plays and are third from the bottom with 34 final third entries per match. We can expect the visitors to focus on staying defensively compact and trying to contain Porto’s attacking threats.
Recovering the ball high up the pitch
One area where there is a lesser disparity between both teams is recoveries in the opposition half. With 13 recoveries in the attacking half per match, Porto ranks third on the list. Meanwhile, Rio Ave recovers the ball ten times in the opposition’s half on average and is fifth on the list. Overall, the home team makes an average of 86.2 recoveries per match, compared to 75.8 recoveries by the visitors. Despite having a much lesser high pressing success rate than Porto, Rio Ave is able to make recoveries high up the pitch with a close enough frequency.
Mehdi Taremi will pose a substantial amount of threat when Porto goes forward. He has been in sublime form and has the highest goal contribution in the league with 11 goals and five assists. He attempts 2.96 shots per match with 43.1% accuracy and has an xG per shot of 0.13. Rio Ave’s defenders will have the task of nullifying the Iranian’s star presence inside the penalty area to achieve a positive result from this extremely tough visit.
Meanwhile, Emmanuel Boateng is one of the leading figures in the attack for Rio Ave. The Ghanaian striker has been a key contributor to the team by scoring four important goals. He has been decently accurate with his shots, with eight out of his 15 attempts landing on target. Porto won’t offer him many attempts towards the goal, but Boateng knows he will have to make the most of what he gets if he is to end his scoring drought against such decorated opposition.
Porto have been hit with an injury crisis and could be without several key players for this fixture. Among them are Otavio, Gabriel Veron, Wendell, Fabio Cardoso, Evanilson, Galeno, and Mateus Uribe. Manager Sergio Conceicao will be hoping a couple of these players will be fit for selection against Rio Ave.
Rio Ave, on the other hand, are expected to name a full-strength line-up with no injured players or suspensions in their squad apart from long-term absentee Joca.
In the face of mounting injury concerns within the squad, this will be a must-win fixture for the Dragons to keep the winning momentum going and maintain the pressure on the league leaders. Meanwhile, Rio Ave will be motivated to repeat the spectacular performance from the previous meeting against Porto in a bid to enter the top half of the Liga Portugal standings.
Visuals via TFA data viz engine