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Porto put record on the line

Published: Tuesday 4 December 2001, 1.00CET
FC Porto will put a proud UEFA Champions League defensive record on the line when they welcome AC Sparta Praha to the Das Antas stadium tonight.

Tournament statistics

PortoSparta Praha

Goals scored10
 
16
Attempts on target70
 
55
Attempts off target88
 
71
Corners57
 
64
Offsides35
 
29
Fouls committed258
 
198
Yellow cards24
 
8
Red cards1
 
1

Media Services

 
Published: Tuesday 4 December 2001, 1.00CET

Porto put record on the line

FC Porto will put a proud UEFA Champions League defensive record on the line when they welcome AC Sparta Praha to the Das Antas stadium tonight.

Having drawn away in their opening game of the second group stage of the UEFA Champions League, FC Porto are well placed to consolidate their position in Group C.

No disgrace

Yet if AC Sparta Praha have proved anything in this competition this season, it is that it is a mistake to underestimate them. Their last two games may have resulted in defeats, but losing narrowly to FC Bayern Munchen and Real Madrid CF is certainly no disgrace.

Bayern held
The Czech Republic side believe they were a little unfortunate to lose 3-2 at home to the Spanish champions on Matchday Seven, having twice come from behind, and as they showed at the very outset of this campaign, when holding the European champions to a goalless draw in Munich, they have the ability to get a result against the best away from home.

Home record
Porto, who are competing in the competition for a record eighth season, never succumb easily at the Das Antas stadium and in fact have been beaten at home only four times in 29 UEFA Champions League matches. Furthermore, they are yet to concede a goal in Portugal in this season's competition. Their recent goalless draw away to Panathinaikos FC showed that they can be just as tight away from home, especially as the Greek side registered four times as many shots as them.

Good form
Both sides have won their subsequent two fixtures since their last European outing. In the case of Porto, it has been enough to put them on top of the Portuguese first division, overtaking their UEFA Champions League rivals Boavista FC in the process. As for Sparta, they go into the Czech league's winter break still on top after 13 wins in 16 1. liga games.

Previous meeting
When the two sides last met in Portugal at the same stage of the competition two seasons ago, Sparta came from two goals down to force a 2-2 draw, but the teams that will take to the field on Tuesday night will bear little resemblance in personnel to those of a couple of years ago.

Costinho suspended
Porto have had 16 players cautioned in the championship so far, compared to just two of Sparta, and coach Octávio Machado will be without suspended midfield player Costinho after he collected three bookings in four outings.

Substitute blamed
Jaroslav Hrebík, the Sparta coach, laid the blame for the defeat by Madrid fairly and squarely at the feet of substitute midfield player Radek Sloncík. He said Sloncík allowed Roberto Carlos the freedom to run unchallenged at the Czech side's goal before producing a shot from which Fernando Morientes scored the winner, just two minutes after Sparta had equalised for a second time.

'Coped well'
"Playing against Real is really tough," said Vladimir Labant, the Sparta left-back. "But I think that we coped with the game well. We probably needed a bit more luck. In this match we had nothing to lose. It isn't a disaster as we expect Madrid to win in its other away games as well." The 19-year-old defender Tomáš Hubschman was similarly optimistic, saying: "If we go into our coming games like we did with Madrid, then we will be successful."

International injury
At the weekend, Sparta were again without right-back Zdenek Grygera, who was injured playing for the Czech Republic in their recent, unsuccessful 2002 FIFA World Cup play-off against Belgium. Jan Flachbart deputised against the Spaniards and may do so again.

Last updated: 15/11/12 20.35CET

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