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After the Italian victory in the first leg (1-0), Porto, the team of Colombian Matheus Uribe, and Inter, is presented as the most open of the matches back in the round of 16 of the Champions League, this Tuesday, March 14, in a qualifying round in which Liverpool needs a miracle against Real Madrid on Wednesday.

To reach the quarterfinals for the sixth time in 20 years, Porto, winners in 2004 (3-0 in the final against Monaco), must overcome the short lead that Inter achieved thanks to Belgium’s Romelu goal in the final stretch Lukaku.

With Pepe in command in defense and his Iranian striker Mehdi Taremi, five goals already in this edition of the Champions League, the club from the north of Portugal hopes to come back against an Inter that has not been in the European ‘Top 8’ since 2011.

Porto vs. Inter. – Photo: REUTERS

Pepe, the great commander

Winner of three Champions Leagues with Real Madrid, the 40-year-old centre-back, Pepe knows well the recipe to go far in Europe and hopes to be able to apply it on Tuesday in the round of 16 round against Inter, with Porto looking to overcome the adverse 1-0 suffered in Italy.

Impeccable in Milan three weeks ago, the Portuguese international with 113 appearances in the Champions League, could not avoid the defeat of the Dragons, reduced to ten in the last quarter of an hour of play.

Physically, at his best despite his age, Pepe is indisputable leading the defense of the reigning champion of Portugal.

Pepe, an experienced player, will lead Porto in the game against Inter.
Pepe, an experienced player, will lead Porto in the game against Inter. – Photo: Getty Images
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His longevity is close to the record. If he plays against Inter, the Brazilian-born footballer will become, at 40 years and 16 days, the second oldest field player to play a knockout match in the Champions League.

According to the statistics company Opta, he will surpass the former Milan defender Alessandro Costacurta (40 years and two days) leaving only the legendary Welsh attacker for Manchester United Ryan Giggs (40 years and 123 days) ahead.

A couple of weeks ago, on the eve of his change of decade, the Porto coach, Sergio Conceiçao, spoke fondly of his captain.

“I haven’t said it enough, he is an exceptional athlete. I am happy that he reaches 40 years of age with vitality, health and ambition. If there is a player who embodies our fundamentals, is he: Rigor, competence and ambition every day. All this is only possible with a huge passion for football”, he said.

Inter vs Porto - Champions League.
Inter vs. Porto – Champions League. – Photo: REUTERS

If Porto fails to come back, Pepe could play his last European match with the Portuguese team, with whom his contract ends this season.

“If I feel that I can compete with my teammates, I will be the first to contact the president and tell him: ‘I am in a position to renew my contract with Porto'”, said in an interview with Sports TVspecifying that he will make his decision at the end of the season.

Inter suffer away from home

Inter, led by Simone Inzaghi, Sergio Conceiçao’s former teammate at Lazio, has problems away from home. They have only won once away from their stadium in 2023.

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Since his first-leg win against Porto, he has stumbled twice, on the field of Bologna (1-0) and on Friday at La Spezia (2-1), further opening the way for leader Napoli, from whom they are currently separated by 18 points.

But with an attacking arsenal that includes Lukaku, Lautaro Martínez, Edin Dzeko and Hakan Çalhanoglu, the Nerazzurri have a case to go for victory.

Inter players celebrating the victory goal against Porto.
Inter players celebrating the victory goal against Porto. – Photo: REUTERS

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