Tonight and next Tuesday, Chelsea and Porto compete over two legs for the right to face Liverpool or Real Madrid in the semi-finals of the Champions League. Last night the Spaniards took a small step closer to the last four by winning 3-1.
This is the only tie of the round forced to switch grounds through Covid travel restrictions. As a result, the rampant lion and the fire-breathing dragon will start to settle their differences not in north-west Portugal, but in another ancient walled city elsewhere on the Iberian peninsula, namely Seville.
This evening’s nominal hosts at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium are Porto, so goals for the Blues count towards the away tally. Next week, when the pair meet again at Sevilla’s ground for the deciding leg, it is Chelsea’s turn: the first ‘home’ match to be played away from Stamford Bridge in the club’s 116-year history.
The circumstances for this last-eight clash may be unfamiliar, then, but the arena and the opponents are not. The Blues were victors at the Bombonera de Nervion (to give the stadium its other name) as recently as the group stage in December, when Sevilla were thrashed 4-0, Oli Giroud accounting for a hat-trick plus one.
Tonight’s two clubs have also met eight times previously in this competition (bringing five Blues wins, one draw and two defeats), and our shared histories are adorned with silverware-laden players and coaches. One of those, Paulo Ferreira, is a club ambassador for the Londoners.