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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fenerbahce must win over Porto to stay alive...

Fenerbahce must beat Portuguese powerhouse Porto in their penultimate UEFA Champions League Group G game in Istanbul Tuesday evening to keep their slim hopes of survival alive, local Today's Zaman reported.

This is in fact a grudge match because the Portuguese beat the Canaries 3-1 when the two teams met in Porto in their group opener on Sept. 17. And the Fener players as well as Spanish coach Luis Aragones still remember the cheap goals in three minutes early in the first half that helped Porto win that match.

Fenerbahce has a golden opportunity to mete out revenge on Porto when the two teams meet again at the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium, where, according to Fener fans, "there is no exit." But for the Canaries to obtain the desired results, coach Luis Aragones must be at his best. His team selection, game plan and substitutions during this match must be right.

Tuesday evening's game is of paramount importance for Fener and for Aragones' future at the Istanbul club. If the Canaries are eliminated from the prestigious and lucrative Champions League, then Aragones' job could be in jeopardy because they are not performing well in the domestic league.

Aragones should therefore select his team without fear or favor. There shouldn't be a place for a player like Claudio Maldonado, who cannot run, jump or slide-tackle. Also the Canaries have not won in the two matches captain-playmaker Alex De Souza has played ever since he returned from injury. If Alex has turned from asset to liability, he too may be sidelined.

With star striker Semih Senturk still nursing an injury, Aragones may decide to use midfielder Deivid De Souza as a striker to help Dani Guiza upfront. The Canaries need not be afraid of Porto and should take the game to their opponents because that's the only way they can win in this must-win situation.

Fenerbahce fullback Roberto Carlos faced Porto seven times during his time with Real Madrid and finished on the losing side only once -- winning on five occasions. Roberto Carlos has been scoring from set pieces of late in the domestic league. He should also try to score against Porto on Tuesday.

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