Wednesday, September 17, 2008
FC Porto v Fenerbahce: Preview
Porto coach Jesualdo Ferreira has urged his team to make a positive start to the Champions League proper by beating last season's quarter-finalists Fenerbahce.
The Portuguese outfit host Luis Aragones' men on Wednesday night in Group G hoping to emulate the success of 2004, when they were crowned champions under Jose Mourinho.
In the last two campaigns, Porto have been knocked out at the last-16 stage - in 2006/07 to Chelsea and to Schalke on penalties last term - and Ferreira does not want a repeat of those disappointments.
"I do not have any doubts about the team I am going to field,'' said Ferreira. "The players are prepared and know the importance of this game, and they are motivated by being in this competition and facing the top clubs in Europe.
"Everyone will work hard to ensure a good game.
"In the two years I have been here we have not realized our objectives of winning the Champions League. I have only been able to speak about defeat.
"But despite not triumphing, we have achieved our objective of reaching the knockout stages.''
Despite being drawn in a tricky group which also includes Arsenal and Dynamo Kiev, Ferreira is upbeat about his side's chances of qualifying for the knockout stages for a third consecutive year.
"It's going to be hard for us,'' he said shortly after the draw. "But regardless of the group, our ambitions are the same as ever.
"We want to reach the knockout stage and certainly with the work we've been doing we'll certainly keep improving over the next few weeks.''
Ferreira is boosted by the return of attacking midfielder Mariano Gonzalez, although Rabiola and Tarik Sektioui are still sidelined with injury. Jorge Fucile and Freddy Guarin also miss out.
Fenerbahce reached the last eight of the competition last season and beat Chelsea at home in the first leg before eventually losing 3-2 on aggregate.
They have had a shaky start to this season, however, winning two and losing two in the Turkish Super League - one of those a 2-1 loss to struggling Hacettepe on Saturday.
New coach Aragones called losing six points in three games "a cause for real concern''.
Curiously, the Spaniard said Wednesday night's main objective is to play attractive football - a surprise given that Fenerbahce are the away side and will want to make as good a start as possible in an intimidating group.
"Porto consist of great players who have already shown what they are capable of achieving,'' he told the club's website. "Our primary goal is to play nice football.''
Veteran Roberto Carlos, a Champions League winner with Real Madrid in 1998, 2000 and 2002, is not underestimating the size of the Yellow Canaries' task, despite Porto being without star winger Ricardo Quaresma, who left for Internazionale on transfer deadline day.
"Porto are a strong team,'' Roberto Carlos told Istanbul newspaper Hurriyet. "Quaresma is a big loss but they are still a good side without him. We will have to take each match as it comes.''
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