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Champions League Preview: Group G 

Newcomers FK Austria Wien are still seeking their first goal and victory in the UEFA Champions League group stage which may be hard to come by as they prepare to host the early Group G leaders Atlético Madrid with the wind in their sails.

Old favorite Hulk returns to the club where he spent four seasons when his Zenit side visit Porto with both clubs in need of a boost in UEFA Champions League Group G.

What to expect from the Matches

Nenad Bjelica’s hosts can take heart from having collected their first point away to FC Zenit last time out but now find themselves up against an Atlético side chasing a third straight victory. Atlético prevailed on the one previous occasion the clubs met, in the 1970/71 European Champion Clubs’ Cup first round. Austria will want to improve on their recent home results in Europe, having lost to GNK Dinamo Zagreb in the play-offs as well as FC Porto on matchday one. They have yet to score in the group stage yet can draw encouragement from some solid defensive displays – including the qualifying rounds, Bjelica’s men have kept four clean sheets in six European outings this term.

After victories over Zenit at home and Porto away, Atlético are looking to complete a sequence of three successive wins in the European Cup for the first time since their very first campaign in the competition in 1958/59 (Dublin City FC 8-0 h, 5-1 a; PFC CSKA Sofia 2-1 h). Austria have won only once at home against Spanish opposition in nine previous attempts, a 1-0 success against Real Zaragoza in the 2004/05 UEFA Cup group stage, Radosław Gilewicz the scorer. Atlético have won on both their two previous visits to Vienna. Besides their aforementioned victory at Austria in 1970, they also won 2-1 at SK Rapid Wien in the 1976/77 European Cup Winners’ Cup first round en route to a 3-2 aggregate success.

The other Group G fixture provides a homecoming for Zenit striker Hulk, who spent four years at Porto between 2008 and 2012. The Brazilian is not the only one who should feel at home at the Estádio do Dragão given that Zenit have won at this venue already this season in their play-off against FC Paços de Ferreira. Zenit got the better of Porto when the sides met in the 2011/12 group stage.

Porto won all four home fixtures in last season’s UEFA Champions League and will be looking to rediscover that form after losing to Atlético Madrid at the Estádio do Dragão last time out. Zenit are still seeking a first Group G victory having lost at Atlético and then drawn at home with Austria Wien. Zenit’s other visits to Portugal ended in defeat while Porto have never lost against visitors from Russia, although they have posted three 0-0 draws in five matches.

Player to watch out for

Diego Costa (Atlético Madrid): Diego Costa, who has registered ten goals in his past nine Liga outings, is available after serving a two-game ban following his red card against Viktoria Plzeň on matchday six of last season’s UEFA Europa League, and will look to increase his tally in what is going to be Atlético’s 250th game in UEFA competition.

Tomáš Jun (Austria Wien): He is the only Austria player with UEFA Champions League experience before this season having appeared 12 times for Sparta Praha in 2003/04 and 2004/05, and his experience will be crucial for Wien.

Hulk (Zenit): All eyes will be on the Brazilian as he returns to his previous club, and he will be looking forward to a good performance against his former team.

Lucho González (Porto): The Argentine will be pulling the strings from midfield, and will be the creator-in-chief, responsible for breaking down a well-organized Zenit defense.

Predicted Score lines & Starting line ups

Austria Wien 0-3 Atletico Madrid
Atlético Madrid are favorites to continue along their winning by beating Austria Wien, and handsomely too.

Porto 2-1 Zenit
Porto should be able to get all three points over Zenit at home, although it is likely to be a closely fought affair.

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