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Porto focused on progress

Published: Tuesday 25 November 2003, 21.09CET
Victory is even more precious than usual to FC Porto and FK Partizan as the Group F rivals meet.

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Goals scored20
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Published: Tuesday 25 November 2003, 21.09CET

Porto focused on progress

Victory is even more precious than usual to FC Porto and FK Partizan as the Group F rivals meet.

Victory is even more precious than usual to FC Porto and FK Partizan as the UEFA Champions League Group F rivals meet in Portugal.

Porto close in
Three points would guarantee the UEFA Cup holders' place in the last 16 - and mean they would definitely not be defending the trophy they won last season - while anything less than a first Champions League group stage win would end Partizan's debut campaign in the competition. Porto, second in the group behind already-qualified Real Madrid CF, have a five-point lead over bottom side Partizan, and coach José Mourinho is aiming high.

'Want to win'
Referring to the fact that a draw would be enough for Porto unless Marseille can beat Real Madrid CF in the group's other game, Mourinho said: "We do not want to wait for other results. We want to win and get a place in next round. Until the 70th or 75th minute of the game I will not even consider thinking about the result of the other game, but we know that if the result is positive, in the last minutes we can try to think of a draw."

Praise for Partizan
Madrid lead the group by three points, and welcome Porto on Matchday 6, but Mourinho is not bothered if his side finish below the Spanish champions, as long as they also go through. "We have to think that we only need one of the spots. Not all the teams that finish in second place are weaker than the winners of the groups." And about the visitors, he said: "Partizan are a very good team. They showed it against Real Madrid who nearly lost against them, and against Marseille, who had some luck and a only a ten-player side to beat."

Team news
As for the Porto team, the coach added: "We do not have César Peixoto, [Dmitri] Alenitchev and Nuno Valente but I can assure you I will pick a strong team with the best players we have available. Mário Silva will play in Valente's spot because he has recovered from injury and he is confident again." His team can afford confidence - they beat Marseille on Matchdays 3 and 4, but Partizan held Madrid 0-0 at the start of November, and coach Lothar Matthäus believes his side can still make it through.

'Play for our lives'
He said: "We always play to win and we will do it here too. It would be pointless to be here without the hope that we could win. They do not have only one or two very good players, they are a very good team. That is the problem. But we have proved in this group we can play good football and we want more of that so we will play for our lives in this couple of games."

UEFA Cup goal
Experienced Partizan striker Ljubinko Drulovic, who spent eight years with Porto up to 2001, did admit that third place, and a UEFA Cup campaign, would not be a disappointment. "FC Porto and Real Madrid have proved they deserve the top places. Nevertheless, we believe maybe you can sneak between them, although our goal is to reach third place. The UEFA Cup would be very good for us." As for his former club, he added: "We must stop the most dangerous players like Deco and Derlei. And then just try our luck."

Last updated: 26/11/03 0.19CET