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Return of the Dragons - A look at FC Porto

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To start, I'm not going to go too deep into the history of FCP. Whilst I admire folks with the patience to craft a solid introduction to a team's history, I feel like a cursory Google search can lead one to the club's backstory and I'm feeling a bit lazy. FCP is one of Portugal's traditional big 3 along with Benfica and Sporting Lisbon, and of course the last team from the country to win a Champion's League title. 

For me Porto is always my first thought for a save in FM. I've not been playing long, only picking up the game in 2018. I managed to guide FCP in that version to back to back to back Champion's League finals, losing to a rediculously dominant Real Madrid side each time :lol:. I avoided them in FM2019 and held out for a bit in FM20. I played a number of saves before deciding to give the Dragons another go but over the last month and a half I've returned to my old stomping ground, so to speak, and figured I'd give writing them up a go. A big shout out to all the FM bloggers/steamers who have both taught and inspired me over the years. @Rashidi, @Experienced Defender, @Cleon, @crusadertsar, @herne79 and more than a few who aren't on this forum. I'm largely a lurker but I owe all of you a debt of gratitude for increasing my knowledge and appreciation for this lovely game. 

So with that being said, I'm gonna get started. First up will be a report on the senior players currently in the squad. After that I'll be looking at a 3 year plan for making the club both competitive and profitable. Eventually we'll get past talk of what could be and get into results on the pitch, tactical setups and whatnot. Hope you enjoy, and feel free to join in with any experiences with this team, Liga NOS, or players mentioned. 

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Posted (edited)


So let's get the squad overview started with the men between the sticks. In the first team FCP start with three goalkeepers, the veteran Marchesin, young prospect Diogo Costa and "break window in case of emergency" option Mbaye. 



Marchesin is one of two players aqcuired during the previous transfer window from Mexican side Club America. He's a top quality keeper for Liga NOS, the clear #1 option for the next couple of years. 



Diogo Costa is a fantastic young prospect. He'll be the primary backup/cup keeper for this season with an eye towards moving him into the starting 11 in 2-3 years. 



Mbaye, as mentioned earlier, is an emergency option/B team player. Can't see him getting any first team minutes barring a cascade of injuries. Long term he doesn't look to have the potential to be useful to us.


Overall, I'm quite happy with the goalkeeping situation at this club for the upcoming 2-3 years. The combo of a solid veteran and talented young understudy should help us cover over the loss of Iker Casillas. Speaking of him, he's still under contract with the team but is planning to retire at the end of this season. I'm hoping to keep him at the club in a backroom capacity, we'll have to wait and see what he wants to do after he hangs up his boots. 




Edited by TheCheesemonger

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Posted (edited)

Center Backs



Pepe needs no introduction. His list of trophies - 2 Liga NOS, 3 LaLiga, 3 Champion's League, 2 Copa del Ray, 2 Club World Cup, 1 Taca de Portugal - is testament to a fantastic career. As to be expected from a 36 year old center back he lacks pace, but his smarts, toughness and aerial dominance make him an easy 1st choice. Having a player of this stature is a huge plus in the locker room, definitely one the young guys will learn a lot from. I've yet to think too much about who I'll be making team captain but he's a strong candidate. 



Next up is Ivan Maracano, who returns to Porto after a year in Italy with Roma. He's a very well rounded, reliable veteran center back. An obvious choice as the left sided partner for Pepe, at least to start the season. 



Leite's been a regular in Porto B for a couple of years now and looks ready to step up as a rotational option. Lots of potential to develop here as a modern, ball playing center back. 



Chancel Mbemba stands out for his ability to play all across the backline and bring an athleticism that the other options at center back cannot. He looks a very good utility option. 



Ferraresi joins the team on loan from Torque in Uruguay. He's an interesting young player, but quite a bit off the level for now. Mostly an option for cup games, he could develop into a useful depth option. 



Brandao does not feature into my plans for the team going forward.


This is a solid group of players in central defense. Pepe and Maracano look likely to get the nod as first choice, but Leite and Mbemba will see plenty of game time as the season progresses. Long term we are going to have to look to strengthen this position. Pepe, at 36, is firmly in the decline phase of his career and Maracano isn't getting any younger. 





Telles will  be indispensable to this team's chances. One of Europe's top attacking left backs and in the prime of his career. Fast, creative, technically gifted and a wizard dead ball situations, he's the first name on the team sheet when fit. His contract is expiring in 2021, signing him to an extension with a hefty release clause is a top priority. 



Manafa signed on in 2018-19 from Portimonese. Pretty much a pure winger shoehorned into a defensive role, he offers very little outside of his ability to fly past his man. Likely a utility option who will also see some time as a wide attacker. 



Tomas Esteves, despite only being 17, is probably the most well rounded choice at right back. I'm targeting somewhere around 15-20 games for him this year and looking forward he has the talent to be a top player at this level. 



Mata profiles as a fringe player. A converted wide attacker he looks like nothing more than an option for cup matches. 


The situation at fullback is at first glance a bit sketchy. Telles is a star, Esteves is a hot prospect, Manafa is useful for his ability to cover for multiple positions and Mata is nowhere near good enough for league play. If the four players above were our only options as wide defenders I would be very concerned about our depth, but luckily in Mbemba and two players I've yet to look at I feel that there are plenty of options depending on team composition. There will be a need to bring in another player as a backup/potential future successor at left back. 

Edited by TheCheesemonger

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Posted (edited)

Central Midfielders



With 33 Portugal caps to his name, Danilo is one of the better midfield destroyers in the league. Whether anchoring a 3 man midfield or in the double pivot he can be counted on to break up attacks while safely getting the ball to more creative teammates. As with Telles, he's a player in his prime with qualities that we can't readibly replace. Long term I see keeping him around but moving him to back into central defense, where I believe he could be excellent for many years to come. 



Sergio Olivera provides an excellent compliment to Danilo's skillset. He's solid defensively but also provides a lot of technical quality and tactical intelligence. Definitely a starter for now, he's out of contract in 2021. 



Uribe is the other of the two Club America standouts to make the move to Porto. He has a very well rounded skillset, capable of playing as a holder, a box to box or even a defensively minded right back. That versatility should come in handy over a long campaign. 



Youngster Romario Baro is the most dynamic of Porto's options in the center of the park. Great motor, technically gifted and featuring a cracking shot from distance, the 19 year old has loads of potential. A critical piece for the future who's likely to contribute immediately as well, I'm hoping that we manage to hang on to him long term. 



Loum is a bit of a square peg in a round hole on the squad. He's a pure holding midfielder, already a bit sluggish at 22 and not gifted enough with the ball to do more than keep things simple. His positional intelligence isn't yet good enough to make up for those deficiencies. He's a no go if we use a double pivot. 



Rounding out the options in central midfield is Vitor Ferreira. A very gifted young deep lying playmaker, he will feature as Olivera's understudy. Along with Baro he looks to be the future of the midfield in Porto. 


I'm quite pleased with what we have in this part of the pitch. Realistically Loum is unlikely to see much time outside of the cups, but we have plenty of options who compliment each other well. 

Edited by TheCheesemonger

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Posted (edited)

Attacking Midfielders



Having been with the Dragons since 2015, Jesus Corona is one of the longest tenured members of Porto's squad. He's got a classic winger's toolbox - speed, agility, mesmeric dribbling, flair to burn - but I'm a touch worried about the mentals. He's been deployed recently as a right back and while his attacking contribution would be tremendous in the role I'm concerned about how exposed it could leave us. Looks to be my first choice on the right wing but he could easily play on the left as well. Possibly even as a right wingback in a three at the back system.



The departure of Yacine Brahimi to Qatari side Al-Rayyan has opened the door for Otavio to make the left wing berth his own. While lacking the explosive pace of his predecesor Otavio has many qualities. In addition to what one would expect from a creative attacking playmaker he's also a very hard working, aggressive and team oriented footballer. That well rounded skillset combined with two good feet and the versatility to play throughout the central and attacking midfield make him one of the most valuable members of the squad. 



Nakajima joins this season from Al-Duhail and brings with him a singular skillset in Porto's squad. He is perhaps the most creative player we have on the roster, blessed with exceptional technique along with the creativity and quickness to put it to good use. His complete lack of defensive contribution marks him as more of a supersub against strong opposition but there's no denying his ability to conjure that bit of magic that can turn a game. Should be the primary backup to Otavio on the left. 



Another new addition, Diaz looks a quality player. He lacks the creativity of the previous options but at 22 has plenty of time to improve. For now he looks to feature on the right as Corona's backup, but I think long term he's more a goal scoring inside forward than a traditional winger. 



Viera is one of three young academy prospects that will look to compete for time over the next few years. Unfortunately, he's very left footed in a squad that otherwise features players who are right or either footed. For now I'm going to keep him with the B team and plan on loaning him out in the winter window. 



Of said academy prospects Sousa looks the most likely candidate for a senior squad appearance this year, largely down to his versatility. 



Rounding out the list is Angel Torres. From the look of him I think his future is actually up top as a center forward but for now he'll get to compete for cup time on the wing. 


On the whole I'm pleased with this bunch of attacking mids. Otavio and Corona look the clear first choices with Nakajima and Diaz backing them up, plus some very talented academy prospects aiming for future selection. 

Edited by TheCheesemonger

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Posted (edited)




Let's start with Soares. With 35 in 67 league appearances for Porto he is the most prolific goalscorer we have on a per game basis. Tiquinho is a physically imposing striker in the target man mold, comfortable both finishing chances and winning balls to lay off to teammates. Easily the most well rounded of our options at center forward. 



Marega comes in just behind Soares with 32 goals in 67 and provides a singular set of qualities. If Soares is imposing, Marega's physical gifts make him a nightmare for defenses. Strong, aerially dominant and featuring track star speed it would be easy to stereotype him as a bull in the china shop type. That, however, would be to sell him short. Marega is very smart with his positioning, always looking to work his way into situations or matchups he can capitalize on. 



Up next is Vincent Aboubaker. He's been as prolific as Soares and Marega over the years, knocking in 36 goals in 78 appearances for Porto. Unfortunately for him and the squad, he suffered a serious knee injury in 2018-19 that saw him miss 41 games. While sapped of the quickness he exhibited before the injury Aboubaker is still a skillful striker. As with Soares and Marega he features good strength and ability in the air, which he combines with enough technique and creativity to give the squad a different look up front. 



Ze Luis is the first new addition we have to the front line at FC Porto. Once again we're looking at a striker who can get the job done in the air but Luis also brings some flair to the role. His off the ball movement and work rate are lacking, but at the least he's a solid backup. 



Last but not least we get to the one FC Porto player every FM fan knows, Fabio Silva. A mere 16 years old he already looks a solid rotation option for us, and his potential is through the roof. He will get time with the senior squad this year, depending on the progress he makes we may well be looking at FCP's first choice center forward as soon as next season. What a talent! 


In my opinion center forward is about as deep and strong a position we have in the club. Soares, Marega and Aboubaker have combined for 103 goals since 2016, Luis has qualities we can use and Silva is one of the best young strikers in the world. Finding the right pairings and playing time for all five will be a good problem to have. 


Edited by TheCheesemonger

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Posted (edited)

Obviously I'm biased but Porto has an extraordinary bunch of youngsters, a true gold generation at the club even tho the club will probably not have much glory with them (financial problems leading to sellouts, a manager that doesn't like them and etc).

I'm talking about Diogo Costa (GK), Tomás Esteves (an RB more like an IWB like Kimmich), Diogo Leite (CB), Diogo Queirós (CB), Vítor Ferreira (CM), Romário Baró (CM), Fábio Vieira (AMC) and Fábio Silva (ST).

If in your (whoever plays) save you are able to develop them, and resist the offers to sell them (one or another might be impossible, as the big sharks can make your life miserable until you just say yes), you can have a Porto's team made in Porto winning everything.

As for a bit of history and club culture, in Porto reigns the spirit of being a fighter, being brave, being a dragon. In football, means to never give up till the last minute (like a 92' goal against Benfica that sealed the league title in 2013) and to overcome stronger opponents (like winning two Champions Leagues being an outsider) and regularly beating stronger teams in that competition. Every year that Porto plays in Champions League, is one of the teams with smaller budget. And after the group stage, that Porto regularly achieves, then basically every team that can be next has a bigger budget. That's the strongest asset of this team. Doesn't have as much money as the giant clubs, but is there, between them, almost every year.

It's not a coincidence that Iker Casillas choose us :)

I wish you and everyone that wanna try a Porto save the best fun and success. Força Porto!

Edited by 99

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22 hours ago, 99 said:

As for a bit of history and club culture, in Porto reigns the spirit of being a fighter, being brave, being a dragon. In football, means to never give up till the last minute (like a 92' goal against Benfica that sealed the league title in 2013) and to overcome stronger opponents (like winning two Champions Leagues being an outsider) and regularly beating stronger teams in that competition. Every year that Porto plays in Champions League, is one of the teams with smaller budget. And after the group stage, that Porto regularly achieves, then basically every team that can be next has a bigger budget. That's the strongest asset of this team. Doesn't have as much money as the giant clubs, but is there, between them, almost every year.

It's not a coincidence that Iker Casillas choose us :)

I wish you and everyone that wanna try a Porto save the best fun and success. Força Porto!

Thanks for that bit of background! My knowledge of the history and traditions of Portuguese football isn't all that great, being in the US and lacking any direct connection to the league, insight from folks with that connection is always welcome. Hope you enjoy the thread.

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Looking forward to the write up on my favourite Porto player, Romario Baro...

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2 hours ago, TheJanitor said:

What's the deal with San Iker's personality?


I'm not 100% sure but I'm guessing it's some kind of bug related to the fact that he's both a player under contract at the club and a club director. It displays the same in my save, and says "scouting required" on the player info screen.

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Starting off, Porto's coaching staff is lacking for a club of this stature.


While that will need improvement, we have a good recruitment team in place already and our medical team is excellent. 



In Ferreirinha we have a solid HOYD in place. I don't forsee a change here. 



Bruno leaves much to be desired as an assistant. In addition to hiring more coaches, I will be replacing him as my number 2. 



The B team could use a couple additions in the backrooms. 



U19 coaching here is excellent. Other than adding a physotherapist I don't see need to change anything.

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Preseason Review/Tactics/Early Results

Going into our this preseason I had three main objectives. First and foremost I want to maximize our team's match sharpness and tactical familiarity without running into any major injuries. This was a complete success. Going into our first Champion's League qualification match, followed in four days by our first LigaNOS fixture, the squad was fit and ready to go with only a couple minor knocks to rotational players. 

Second, I needed to overhaul the staff that, as mentioned in a previous post, I found lacking. I think I've done alright on that front.


We've fired two coaches, including the assistant, and brought the staff up to the maximum the board has allowed. I'm a huge believer in the benefits of having the best backroom staff possible, especially at a place like Porto where getting the most out of younger players and bargain signings will be key. 

Finally, I wanted to establish a solid tactical identity for the team. My approach is to first evaluate the squad, starting with the forwards. 

Up top, Porto have five very good options. Soares has the build and skills of a classic target man plus some good mentals and technicals. Marega is physically imposing, lightning fast and has a real poacher's instinct for getting in on goal. Aboubaker can do a bit of everything and Luis is a good playmaker type center forward. The fifth on the depth chart, Fabio Silva, may be the best under 18 striker in the world.  

So, taking that into account my first thought is that we would do well to play with a strike partnership. These five have skillsets that compliment each other well and give us a lot of versatility in how we could chose to assign roles. Marega does have experience playing as an AMR and Silva certainly could handle playing as a left sided inside forward, but if we played exclusively lone striker systems at least two of the five striking options we have will struggle to get minutes. 

Moving into central midfield, we have a number of players with excellent work rate, teamwork and determination.


This is a good thing. On top of that, we have a group of midfielders who can work well together. Olivera and Vitor work best as deep lying playmakers. Danilo and Uribe are hard charging ball winners/box to box types. Baro, despite his youth, is a true all rounder who provides a dynamism that we could otherwise lack. Sousa can play all over the attacking third but could certainly be molded into a mezzala/AP type central midfielder. Loum is one I'm less keen on, hard to see him as anything but a decent half back/anchor man type. I'm confident that we could play with either a double pivot or a midfield three and have enough depth to not be forced into a tactical change by the odd injury. 

Next, I look at our options for wide defenders. If we're going to play with two strikers and have midfielders who could work as a two or three man setup, the logical question is to ask whether we can play a narrow system. Long term I don't see us being able to pull it off. Telles is, in my opinion, our best player and could certainly handle bossing a flank on his own but the dropoff from his level is very steep. I cannot overwork him, he's too valuable when coming up against our domestic rivals and European competition. Corona, Estaves and Mbemba could certainly share duties on the right flank well, but I really can't see using a narrow system as anything other than a situational option. 

As far as attacking midfielders go, I have a number of options, all of which are fast, agile and very good dribblers. They're all passable with both feet but are naturally right footed. A combination of traditional winger on the right and inverted winger on the left makes a lot of sense here. 

In central defense we generally lack for pace but compensate with experience, aerial dominance and pugnaciousness. Pepe needs no introduction, he can never be accused of backing down from a challenge. Maracano looks a good starter for Portugal and Mbemba and Leite bring different qualities to the position. Danilo Pereira can certainly slot into central defense if needed, and we may as well give Loum a try here as well. I'd lean towards a back four, but a back three is certainly not out of the question. 

All considered, I settled on playing a high pressing 4-2-4 as my primary formation. 


So, I'll just get this out of the way, yes it's aggressive. I do think, however, it's a sound base to work from. Our forwards and attacking midfielders are solid pressers, our center mids are hard working and defensively responsible. Telles is one of the best attacking left backs in Europe while Mbemba is much more a center back operating as a wide defender. Marchesin is comfortable coming off his line and Pepe is ready and willing to charge forward and break up counterattacks when needed. 

In the attacking phase, we have a clear plan to build up play down our left flank. Olivera stays deep and looks to dictacte play, and he has plenty of options. Telles bombs forward at the first opportunity to stretch defenses both vertically and horizontally. Otavio looks to work the left hand half space, whether receiving directly in the channel or starting from a wider position and dribbling infield. Soares drops off to provide a reliable option to quickly progress the ball to final third. If defenses shift this way to account for potential overloads, they're left with a real dillema on the right. Corona stays very high up the pitch, offering himself as a quick switch of play. With Marega staying on the last line of the defense and the right hand midfielder looking to make late surges to the edge of the box, such a switch can be devestating for the opposition. If that switch isn't on, Pereira and Mbemba provide safer outlets through which we can keep defenses honest. So far, our results have been quite good. 


In my next post, I'll be doing both a match analysis of our first three games and a bit of theorycrafting on my next match, a Classico against arch rivals Benfica. Thanks for reading, and Somos Porto!





Edited by TheCheesemonger

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