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Preview : Aston Villa v FC Porto


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Villa take on one of Europe's powerhouses in the Peace Cup semi-finals this Friday

Opponent : FC Porto

Venue : La Rosaleda

Date : Friday 31st July

Kick off : 19:30 (20:30 CET)

150px-Aston_Villa.svg.png versus 150px-Fcporto.png

They did it the hard way but the important thing is Villa won Group C and earned their place in the knockout stages.

Lying in wait are FC Porto who sauntered through what on paper was the toughest group in the competition. After thumping reigning Peace Cup Champions Lyon 2-0 in their opening fixture thanks to a brace from in-form striker 'Hulk', they looked a class above their Turkish day 2 opponents, Besiktas. In the end the draw was all they needed to top the group without conceding a goal.

Make no mistake, FC Porto are a class act. They have top quality throughout their line-up, they have great technique in their attacking ranks, they have the organisation and discipline of a top European club and in the 'Hulk' they have a ruthless striker who will punish lapses in concentration. Where our opponents up to now have been strong in areas and weak in others, Porto have it all going for them and Villa will need to be up for it from the off if they want to reach the final.

FC Porto are the reigning Portuguese champions and have won the last 4 titles on the bounce. In fact they've won 13 of the last 20 Portuguese titles. They did the domestic double last season and they have 2 European crowns to their name. The most recent under 'The Special One' in 2004.

Villa will definitely be without Stiliyan Petrov who sustained a dislocated shoulder in the win against Atlante, but we should have a clean bill of health other than that. Brad Guzan's impressive display against Atlante will give MON a nice headache, though if I had to guess, I'd suspect Martin will choose to rotate his keepers and Brad senior will be back in for this one. Marc Albrighton's remarkable performance against Atlante surely puts him in pole position to replace the crocked Bulgarian and start his first game of the tournament with Reo-Coker, another who impressed against the Mexicans, moving inside to partner Sidwell.

It remains to be seen whether Porto shuffle their pack for this fixture or whether they go with the team that has gotten them this far. If they do stay the same then look out for the aforementioned 'Hulk' (Givanildo Vieira de Souza). There's not much point identifying key players as most of them have the ability to do damage on their day. Keep an eye out for long-time rumoured Villa target, Radamel Falcao, who recently joined from River Plate for €4m.

So, it's Villa v Porto for a guaranteed one million euro and a chance to play in the final against either the mighty Juventus or the mighty Réal Madrid. Either way, it'll be mighty!!

As always, UP THE VILLA!!

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in 5 years time, i'd like it to read:

FC Porto take on one of Europe's powerhouses, Aston Villa

25 years ago it would have read that way ender4 but in 5 years time I would be happy with:

Two of Europe's powerhouses clash head on!

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