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UEFA Super Cup: FC Porto minus Villas-Boas is still a worthy opponent for FC Barcelona

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FC Barcelona and Cesc Fabregas can make it three out of three when they face Jose Mourinho’s former club FC Porto in the UEFA Super Cup clash in Monaco on Friday.

FC Porto had a brilliant season under manager Andre Villas-Boas last season, winning the treble consisting of the Portuguese Liga, Portuguese Cup and the UEFA Europa League. They won an astonishing 49 games with only four losses in total. Much of the credit goes to then-chief Villas-Boas (now at Chelsea) whose attacking flair and pressing game, reminiscent to that of FC Barcelona, helped Porto to triumph in a season that saw all Portuguese clubs do well in Europe.

Now, however, Vitor Pereira, the second in command at Porto and Villas-Boas' assistant last season, has got the chance to make his presence felt. He was quickly named successor to fill the void AVB left when the latter moved to Chelsea. Having managed with the "Next Special One" for one year, he will probably stay true the same attacking philosophy the Dragões showcased last season when his side meet the European Champions in the UEFA Super Cup. The occasion would also mark his first major test, and he would do his best not to disappoint.

The bulk of the scoring duties will arguably fall on Hulk after his strike partner’s Falcao’s exit to Atletico Madrid. The South American duo scored an astonishing 75 goals in between them over the course of last year’s campaign. It would be a major challenge for Vitor Pereira to replicate that kind of performance without his star striker from last season.

Falcao’s position is most likely to be taken by Silvestre Varela, who has played a considerable part in the team’s accumulations of trophies. Porto is also likely to field Djalma and Kleber at some point in Friday’s game. Djalma is a right winger signed from CD Maritimo whereas Kleber is a natural center-forward snapped up from Brazilian outfit Clube Atletico Meneiro after impressive performances in the Brazilian league.

Hulk - F.C. Porto - Just Incredible 2011 | FULL HD (via DoSantosProduction)

Except for Falcao and Ruben Michel, Porto have been able to keep hold of their other star players such as Freddy Guarin, Joao Moutinho, Alvaro Pereira, Jorge Fucile and Rolando. In addition they have signed some interesting young prospects such as Juan Iturbe, Alex Sandro and Danilo which would make them a very difficult opponent to beat.

FC Barcelona’s confidence will be sky high after beating bitter-rivals Real Madrid to lift the Spanish Super Cup and tearing apart Italian outfit SSC Napoli to win the Gamper Trophy. But taking FC Porto lightly could be a costly mistake.

Real Madrid have been a familiar foe for Barcelona but in Porto they encounter a side that likes to venture forward, attacks from the wings and doesn’t compromise its own philosophy, even when facing a big European side. With Carles Puyol still out due to injury and Pique picking up a knock it would be interesting to see how Barcelona’s back-four (or three) perform against a side worthy enough to beat the European Champions at their own game.

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