Photo: FC Porto

Photo: FC Porto

Overview: The Julen Lopetegui era has officially begun at the Estádio do Dragão. He takes over a club that has become used to success.

Porto have lost several key players from the squad that finished a disappointing third last season. Defensive midfielder Fernando, who was the club’s spine for several seasons has finally moved on, joining Manchester City. French international Eliaquim Mangala is likely to follow him to Etihad Stadium.

Lopetegui was not well known when team president Pinto da Costa announced his hiring at the end of last season. The Spaniard has spent most of his coaching career in youth development. He has already started to leave a footprint on this squad.

There will be a hint of Spanish flavour at the Dragão this season. Óliver Torres, Ádrian Lopez and Cristian Tello were all reinforcements for the club this summer. However, Torres and Tello arrive on loan from their respective clubs. As does Brazilian defensive midfielder Casemiro.

Porto begins their Primeira Liga season at home on August 15th against Marítimo. The club has not gone more than one season without winning the league since 2001-02.

Key Additions: Ricardo (Académica), Evandro (Estoril), Sami (Marítimo), Daniel Opare (Standard Liège), Óliver Torres (At. Madrid), Lichnovsky (Univ. Chile), Ádrian Lopez (At. Madrid), Bruno Martins Indi (Feyenoord), Tello (Barcelona), Tiago Rodrigues (V. Guimarães), Djalma (Konyaspor), Casemiro (Real Madrid), Yacine Brahimi (Granada), Andrés Fernández (Osasuna), José Ángel (Roma)

Key Subtractions: Fucile, Iturbe (Verona), Fernando (Manchester City), Castro (Kasimpasa), Izmailov (Krasnodar), Eliaquim Mangala (Manchester City), Rolando, Abdoulaye (Rayo Vallecano), Licá (Rayo Vallecano), Nabil Ghilas, Josué, Bolat (Galatasaray), Silvestre Varela, Pedro Moreira (Rio Ave), Tozé (Estoril)

Manager Profile: Julen Lopetegui had a short coaching stint with his former club Rayo Vallecano in 2003, soon after retiring as a player. Since then, he has managed Real Madrid Castilla for one season, and spent several years in charge of Spain’s youth squads. He won the UEFA European Under-19 Championship in 2012, as well as the UEFA European Under-21 Championship in 2013.

Players To Watch: Winger Ricardo Quaresma and striker Jackson Martinez will be leaned on heavily to produce for the club. New signings Bruno Martins Indi, Cristian Tello, Óliver Torres and Ádrian Lopez will be essential to the club’s plans this season. Héctor Herrera had an excellent World Cup with Mexico and is expected to play a bigger role as well.

Expectations: FC Porto are always expected to win the league, and in fact, do so on most occasions. The team was eliminated in the group stage of the Champions League. Lopetegui will be under major pressure to reach the knock-out stages this time around.

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