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Perrin prepared for Porto push

Published: Wednesday 22 October 2003, 4.39CET
Olympique de Marseille coach Alain Perrin believes his side's matches against FC Porto will prove decisive.

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Published: Wednesday 22 October 2003, 4.39CET

Perrin prepared for Porto push

Olympique de Marseille coach Alain Perrin believes his side's matches against FC Porto will prove decisive.

By Matthew Spiro in Marseille

Olympique de Marseille coach Alain Perrin believes his team's next two UEFA Champions League matches - at home and away to FC Porto - will decide their fate in the competition.

Second place
Real Madrid CF are top of Group F with a maximum six points, and Perrin feels that his side are effectively competing with Porto and FK Partizan for second place. "As soon as I saw the draw, I thought there would be three teams playing for one qualification place," Perrin said on the eve of Wednesday's crucial match at the Stade Vélodrome.

'Important win'
"When you have Madrid in your group it does not leave much room for manoeuvre," Perrin added. "We got an important win against Partizan and now, in my opinion, these next two games against Porto will be decisive."

Losing preparation
Marseille's preparations were far from ideal, having gone down 4-1 at RC Strasbourg on Friday, and Perrin is demanding an improvement from his players against last season's UEFA Cup winners. "We have to defend better against Porto," he said. "If we make the same mistakes, they have the players who can punish us."

'Solid and well-organised'
Porto, in contrast, are full of confidence following their 4-1 victory against CF Os Belenenses at the weekend - a performance that impressed the watching Marseille coach. "They were excellent," Perrin said. "They confirmed what I already knew; they are solid and well-organised, and attack at speed."

Returning duo
The French side have no new injury problems, with striker Ahmed Hossam 'Mido' and midfield player Stepan Vachousek returning after missing the Strasbourg match through suspension, while Perrin confirmed that goalkeeper Vedran Runje is still his first choice, despite the potential arrival of Fabien Barthez. "Vedran will start on Wednesday and will play many more games for Marseille," he said.

Defensive doubt
Perrin's opposite number, José Mourinho, has one fitness concern, with defender Ricardo Carvalho sustaining a knee injury at the weekend. "Ricardo Carvalho is training with the rest of the players," said the Porto coach. "If he responds well and is able to play at 100 per cent, then he'll start, but we won’t take any risks."

International debut
Mourinho said losing the defender, who made his Portugal debut earlier this month, would be a major blow. "Marseille have a very good attack and in Didier Drogba they have the tournament's top scorer," he pointed out. "Ricardo Carvalho is best equipped to mark Drogba, so we hope he plays. But we have four quality central defenders, so whoever plays will be ready for the challenge."  
'Second-best team'
The Portuguese side are yet to win in this season's Champions League, but midfield player Bosingwa is confident, saying: "We got a good point in Partizan then lost to Madrid, so it has not been desperate. We'll do our best to put the record straight on Wednesday. We have respect for Marseille, but we are the UEFA Cup winners and the Portuguese champions, so we have every reason to believe that we are the second best team in this group."

Last updated: 22/10/03 11.13CET