By Fergus O'Shea in Porto
Two of the rising stars of European football will come face to face tonight when FC Porto meet Olympique Lyonnais in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League quarter-final.
Coaches in competition
Porto coach José Mourinho and his Lyon counterpart Paul Le Guen are building reputations as two of the most astute and tactically-aware coaches on the continent, and the match at the Estádio do Dragão provides a perfect opportunity to compare their respective merits.
Champions and leaders
Although the two clubs are both champions of their countries and currently lead their respective leagues, their presence in the last eight is something of a surprise with European giants such as Manchester United FC, Juventus FC and FC Bayern München having fallen by the wayside in the first knockout round.
Porto ended Manchester United's challenge as Costinha's last-minute equaliser at Old Trafford earned a 1-1 draw in the second leg and a 3-2 win on aggregate but, despite that famous victory, Mourinho is according his side's French opponents the respect they deserve.
Lyon are a team of the highest quality," said the Porto coach. "They play for each other, and work hard for the team. They are similar to ourselves, in that each side is based around good foreign imports, has a young and ambitious coach and is not considered among the favourites for this competition."
The UEFA Cup holders, already without Jorge Costa, Pedro Mendes, Marco Ferreira and Derlei, had defender Ricardo Costa ruled out with a broken arm last week. In light of those absentees, Mourinho may opt to pack the midfield in a bid to stifle the influence of Lyon playmaker Juninho Pernambucano - who has already scored five goals in this competition - but believes the match in Portugal will not prove decisive.
"This tie will only be resolved at the Stade Gerland in the second leg," Mourinho said. "While a first-leg win would be a great result, a draw would be a good one. We are yet to lose away in this season's Champions League, so we can be confident of success when we go to France."
Le Guen's side too have already eliminated illustrious opponents from this season's Champions League having finished top of a section including Bayern, Celtic FC and RSC Anderlecht in the group stage before knocking out Real Sociedad de Fútbol 2-0 on aggregate in the last round.
Le Guen believes his side go into the match as underdogs, saying: "
For me, Porto are the favourites for this tie. When you look at their results this season – they make very few mistakes – it is no surprise that they have reached this stage. They are a very good team."
Top of the table
The Lyon coach saw his side take over from AS Monaco FC at the top of Ligue 1 at the weekend thanks to a 1-0 victory against FC Nantes Atlantique, and there was more good news for the French champions as goalkeeper Grégory Coupet returned after a wrist injury. Eric Carrière was also back on the bench after a knee tendon problem, although defender Claudio Caçapa is still recovering from a knee operation, while striker Sidney Govou was rested for the match.
Le Guen is clear in his aim for the first leg, saying: "Our objective is to score one goal and to make Porto defend. A draw would be a good result, as long as we score. We do not want to draw 0-0."
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