Jackson Martinez after scoring on Friday night. Ivan del Val/Atlantico/Press Association Images
Champions League

Porto v Malaga: 5 things to know before tonight's first leg tie

The Iberian pair meet at the Estadio do Dragao in the Champions League last-16 this evening.

FC Porto v Malaga – Estadio do Dragao, 7.45pm (Live on Sky Sports 1)

1. The teams have never met before

Tonight sees these two club face each other for the first ever time in a competitive fixture. Malaga are playing in their maiden Champions League campaign while their opponents are seasoned veterans of the competition – having won it twice in 1987 and 2004 under Jose Mourinho .

2. Malaga are solid on the road

Both sides come into the tie in good form. One of only four teams still unbeaten in the tournament this season, the Spaniards have lost just once in 12 away European ties. That was way back in 2002 when another Portuguese outfit, Boavista, knocked them out of the UEFA Cup.

Porto, meanwhile, extended their unbeaten run in the league to 19 games on Friday night with a 2-0 victory over Beira Mar. They’ve also conceded just four goals in the CL this term.

3. Porto may have lost Falcao, but another Columbian has been filling his boots pretty well

When Porto sold one of the world’s best strikers in Falcao to Atletico Madrid, filling the Columbian’s boots seemed an impossible task. In Jackson Martinez, however, they look to have found themselves another gem. Bought from Mexican side Jaguares de Chiapas in the summer, the 26-year-old is currently the top scorer in Portugal with 18 goals in 17 games (3 coming in the CL).

YouTube credit: ScoutNationHD

4.  Isco is Malaga’s main man

Isco (right) taking on AC Milan’s Kevin Constant. Credit: Miguel Angel Morenatti/AP/Press Association Images

Francisco Román Alarcón Suárez or Isco has become one of Europe’s most sought-after players with his performances this year. With Santi Cazorla departing for Arsenal, the 20-year-old has shone behind frontman Roque Santa Cruz for Manuel Pellegrini’s side.

He has been linked with a move to the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City and recently admitted that he would consider a move outside his homeland.

5. What do the managers have to say?

Vítor Pereira: “Winning is our main objective. If past achievements were a factor we’d win this tie, but we live in the present so that doesn’t count. Málaga are fourth in the Liga and proved their strength by finishing ahead of Milan and Zenit in the Champions League group stage.

It’s going to be a hard game. I’ve watched them twice and they have excellent quality and very good players. They concede very few goals, and can play possession football and on the counterattack, but I don’t think they’ll come here to defend.”

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Manuel Pellegrini: “To go into that game winning is different than doing so after a defeat.”

We have maintained our position in fourth and now we want to get to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, although we have a very difficult game in Portugal on Tuesday. It is always important to go into those games after a win.”

“There is always a little attention on a Champions League game, but it was important to win to maintain our league position and even more so against a great opponent like Athletic.”

- Credit: AFP

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