Match date: 24th October 2018
Kick-Off: 8.00pm BST
Stadium: RZD Arena, Moscow
Porto currently lead the way in Group D, but they are in the most open group in this season’s Champions League. There is no stand-out side among the four, but as things stand Lokomotiv Moscow are the one side who look out of the running for the last 16. They have a make or break clash with the current leaders on Wednesday, as they welcome Porto. The Dragons have plenty of experience in this competition to back them up, but will they be able to come away from Russia with three points?
The hosts would have looked on at CSKA’s recent victory over Real Madrid and been inspired to kick on in Europe this season. They should have been more competitive in their first two matches, which they lost to Schalke and Galatasaray. This is probably the easiest draw Lokomotiv could have landed, so they have really made a mess of a golden opportunity. Will they be able to pick things up in Wednesday’s game?
Porto do make this trip as odds on favourites, but there are questions around their form ahead of this trip. There was little doubt about the manner of their weekend win, as they crushed minnows Vila Real 6-0 in the Portuguese Cup. That clash did bring them back from the international break with a heavy win, but it was far from a big test of their side. Heading to Moscow is a difficult trip, and it’s going to be awkward for a side who are light up front, with their main frontman, Vincent Aboubakar, ruled out through injury.
The Dragons may head here on the back of a big win, but their real test came before the international break, when they lost to a 10-man Benfica side. Their chances of retaining their title are looking shaky after a mixed start to the campaign, while their European results have been nothing special. They head here with a 1-0 win over Galatasaray and a 1-1 draw at Schalke behind them, and they may have a tough time getting a result here.
On the road in the Champions League Porto have failed to win their last four, while they have one win in seven. They don’t exactly deserve to be so heavily backed in this trip with that form behind them, especially after going four games without a win against Russian sides in Europe. We think there’s value here on Lokomotiv to avoid defeat, so we’re backing them on the double chance market.
HEAD TO HEAD:
The sides meet for their first head-to-head encounter ever on Wednesday evening, looking for all-important points at RZD Arena.
LOKOMOTIV MOSCOW VS FC PORTO STATS:
Lokomotiv Moscow have failed to keep a clean sheet in all six meetings with Portuguese sides in European competition
After winning six and drawing two of their first eight European meetings with Russian sides, FC Porto are winless in their last four against them (D2 L2), most recently vs Zenit St Petersburg in the 2013-14 Champions League group stages (D1 L1).
Lokomotiv Moscow have lost each of their last four games in major European competition (excluding qualifiers); only once before have they been on a longer such run (five games in 2003).
Porto are unbeaten in their last three Champions League games (W1 D2), last going longer in 2016 (four games). They could win back-to-back games in the competition for the first time since November 2016.
Lokomotiv could lose both of their first two home Champions League games in a season for only the second time, previously doing so in 2002/03.
Porto have won none of their last four away Champions League games (D3 L1); they last went five without victory between March 2005 and September 2006.
Lokomotiv are one of only three sides yet to score in this season’s Champions League (also Valencia and Young Boys); only one Russian side has ever failed to score in each of their first three Champions League games of a season previously, Spartak Moscow doing so in 2002/03.
23 of Porto’s last 24 Champions League goals have come from inside the penalty area, the only exception being Alex Telles’ strike against Monaco in December 2017.
Each of Porto’s last six goals in the Champions League have been scored by different players (Aboubakar, Brahimi, Telles, Soares, Otavio and Marega).
LOKOMOTIV MOSCOW TEAM NEWS:
Both Fedor Smolov and Jefferson Farfan are set to miss out of this clash with Porto, but they’re hopeful that Maciej Rybus will return.
FC PORTO TEAM NEWS:
Vincent Aboubakar is a major absentee for the visitors, while Riechedly Bazoer could miss out this week.
Parovozy got off to a poor kick off to the season, but their form has seen a decent rise of late. They won three on the bounce to climb up to the sixth place in the Russian Premier League standings. The streak includes a huge 0-1 victory over CSKA Moscow in the city derby just days after Armeitsy took a Real Madrid scalp in the Champions League.
Nonetheless, Yury Semin’s men failed to deliver in the continental competition where they are yet to score a goal coming into this third round tie. We can certainly expect a real buzz in and around RZD Arena given this is the hosts’ last chance to catch up with the rest of the group in the battle for one of top two spots.
Looking from the betting perspective, there is a huge value in backing the hosts not to lose at 1.85 odds. Loko won three on the spin in a strong Russian Premier League and we’d not be surprised to even see them snatching the spoils here. The alternative bet would be Under 2.5 goals FT since both teams were pretty tough to break down of late.