RC Deportivo La Coruña forward Alberto Luque has declared himself fit for what he believes is the most important game of his career against FC Porto in tonight's UEFA Champions League semi-final.
The Spanish international winger limped out of the first leg in Portugal a fortnight ago with an ankle injury but, after appearing for Javier Irureta's side in the 2-0 win over Real Madrid CF last weekend, he has told uefa.com that he is certain to start at the Riazor.
"I am in perfect condition to play in what is the most important game of my career," said Luque. "I proved myself against Real Madrid and I felt very good in that match too. The coach even substituted me to save me for the Porto game so there is no doubt I will start.
This is the biggest game in the club's history, so every player must be totally fit and I know I am."
The first leg at the Estádio do Dragão, was an ill-tempered affair dominated by rough tackling. Deportivo defender Jorge Andrade was sent off late on for a petulant gesture at Deco, but Luque stressed the aggressive nature of that match was down to desire, not malicious intent.
"Both teams have got their best chance ever to reach the Champions League final, so I think it's understandable that all of the players played with aggression but there was nothing violent I can assure you," he said.
"I'm sure the second game will be very tense and that, as in any match, there will be some bad tackles. But we are playing to win in the same style that we beat [AC] Milan in the quarter-finals. Of course we have rivalry because we are Iberian neighbours but the prize of a place in the final is more important this time. However, with lots of players on both sides just one yellow card away from being suspended for the final, I can imagine that everyone will be a lot more careful with their tackles this time."
The only negative aspect of Deportivo's resilient 0-0 draw in Porto was their failure to score an away goal. With that in mind, the Spanish side can ill-afford to be gung-ho in their attempts to win in front of their home fans. Although their 4-0 demolition of Milan will have given them confidence, Luque admits they have to be careful.
"We will have to play with very few mistakes and to attack Porto with intelligence because they are dangerous opponents," he said. "But in no way will we play defensively because if you use those tactics you often end up losing. I hope we can get early goals because I don't want to go into the last few minutes with the result still hanging in the balance. The pressure will be huge."
Match of our lives
The pressure may be considerable but Luque believes his team will rise to the occasion as they chase a place in what would be the club's first European final "This 90 minutes is what we have been waiting for and we need to play the best football match of our lives," he said. "We must be careful not to make mistakes and we have to concentrate hard and then I believe we can finish the dream."
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