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Licking our wounds from the loss to Napoli, Pirlo and his charges have instant opportunity for redemption. And perhaps…this matters more than the league campaign, as it provides the chance to finally face off against a side somewhere near our perceived level of greatness.

Our Portuguese opponents have not won a match in normal time through their last four outings, so it is fair to suggest, they are in far from blistering from.

Given the latest reminder, a reality check for some, that Pirlo has overseen our worst first 21 league games of a season since Del Neri – who had a vastly weaker squad – the CL campaign takes on increased intensity. Where are we heading? How much are we growing as a side? Is the Pirlo roll of the dice working?

Some of these questions can be answered through our adventures in Europe, where we play against what I consider our peers, with those in Serie A, regardless of the table, still very much behind us in terms of financial clout and squad depth. Porto are far from world beaters, evidently, though they are of decent enough european pedigree to offer a barometer of our current state of development and potency.

Injury updates are far from uplifting. Arthur, Cuadrado, Ramsey, Dybala are all likely or assuredly OUT. Perhaps Bonucci in turn.

Loosely expected formation>>>


Danilo Bonucci/Demiral Chiellini/De Ligt Sandro

Mckennie Bentancur Rabiot Chiesa

Morata Ronaldo

It is possible that Bonucci will work his way into the side, and who knows, Dybala may emerge from the shadows. Regardless, we are set to continue with a RWF specialist starting at LM. A box to box central midfielder ostensibly on the right of midfield, tucking in, roaming between the lines, with Morata expected to drop deep and help link the play to…basically Ronaldo.

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