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Pressure is on in Paris

Published: Wednesday 20 October 2004, 13.03CET
Vahid Halihodzic says Paris Saint-Germain FC's match with FC Porto represents "a last chance for both sides".
Published: Wednesday 20 October 2004, 13.03CET

Pressure is on in Paris

Vahid Halihodzic says Paris Saint-Germain FC's match with FC Porto represents "a last chance for both sides".

By David Minton in Paris

Paris Saint-Germain FC coach Vahid Halihodzic is desperate to see his side record their first victory of their UEFA Champions League Group H campaign when winless FC Porto visit the Parc des Princes on Wednesday.

'Last chance'
Halihodzic described the game as "a last chance for both sides to salvage something" after seeing his team defeated without scoring in each of their opening two games. The visitors' coach agreed with Halihodzic's view. "We must win and I hope we will," said Víctor Fernández. "If we don't it will complicate matters in terms of qualification."

'Incredibly tough'
Defeats at the hands of Chelsea FC and PFC CSKA Moscow were not the way PSG hoped to mark their return to the Champions League after a four-year absence and Halihodzic said: "After the Chelsea game I was as stern with my players as I've ever been after a game. We're lacking a bit of experience and quality at this level and we found ourselves drawn in this incredibly tough group. But things are improving. Our level of play is now satisfactory even if the results are not."

Poor form
After going down to a late FC Nantes Atlantique penalty on Saturday, the capital club are 16th in France's Ligue 1, two points and two places clear of the relegation spots. But Halihodzic insisted: "We have to persevere. We're not too far away from the desired level now. We played well for 70 minutes against CSKA and for the entire game against Nantes."

'False position'
Fernández echoed these words when he said: "PSG are in a false position in their domestic league. We're also on the right path and getting stronger by the game. It takes time for a team to gel and we're ready to play 90 minutes at a high level against PSG."

Tactically different
Halihodzic believes Porto are tactically very different to the side José Mourinho led to glory last season. "They're not as rigorous defensively as Mourinho's Porto but they have brought in quality players to replace those who left in the summer. If anything they now also have more individuals capable of producing something out of nothing."

Missing trio
That said, the holders have travelled to Paris without several key players. Nuno Valente is recovering from a knee injury sustained on international duty and both Luís Fabiano and Pedro Emanuel, who missed Sunday's 1-0 Portuguese Superliga win against SL Benfica, are still out of action.

Yepes debut
For PSG, midfield player Lorik Cana - a substitute at Nantes after playing for Albania in Kazakhstan three days earlier - is poised to return. Right-back Bernard Mendy is still working his way back towards full fitness so Stéphane Pichot will continue to deputise, but Colombian central defender Mario Alberto Yepes will make his Champions League debut after serving a two-match ban.

'No weak points'
PSG striker Pauleta, who has been out for a fortnight, should also be restored to the starting lineup. "Porto are high quality," the Portuguese international said. "They have no weak points and a strong bench too." But his Portugal team-mate, Porto's Costinha, is wary. "We've got to be careful because for them playing in Europe will be a release and a real pleasure," he explained. "That said we have to remember we're European champions and if we want to keep our status of being a top European club we have to do well on Wednesday."

Last updated: 20/10/04 16.37CET

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