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All eyes on the Riazor

Published: Tuesday 4 May 2004, 4.33CET
RC Deportivo La Coruña and FC Porto are out to break the deadlock in their semi-final second leg.

Tournament statistics

DeportivoPorto

Goals scored19
 
20
Attempts on target56
 
70
Attempts off target69
 
71
Corners64
 
46
Offsides32
 
70
Fouls committed182
 
259
Yellow cards18
 
31
Red cards2
 
0

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Published: Tuesday 4 May 2004, 4.33CET

All eyes on the Riazor

RC Deportivo La Coruña and FC Porto are out to break the deadlock in their semi-final second leg.

By Fergus O'Shea in La Coruna

The first of this week's concluding UEFA Champions League semi-final ties pits an RC Deportivo La Coruña side bristling with confidence after brushing aside Real Madrid CF at the weekend against FC Porto, who had been crowned Portuguese champions long before losing only their second game of the season last Friday.

Stalemate
The first leg at the Estádio do Dragão a fortnight ago was a tense, goalless affair and despite Deportivo's impressive record at their Riazor stadium, this game could be just as tight.

Goalscoring onus
Deportivo coach Javier Irureta said the tie could go either way, but at least expected goals. "Duty calls - we need to score to get to the final," he said. "Both teams have the same task ahead of them, so we will see a different match from the one in Porto. I believe there will be more than one goal and this means we will probably have to score at least two to get to Gelsenkirchen."

'Both teams trying to score'
Porto coach José Mourinho concurred, saying: "When you have a game where both teams want to score then you have goals. In Porto there was only one team trying to score, but this game will be different and I think we can expect goals."

Make and mend
With the home side missing Mauro Silva and Jorge Andrade through suspension, Irureta is likely to use Sergio González in the former's midfield role and either Héctor Berenguel or Pablo Amo in central defence. According to midfield player Aldo Duscher, Deportivo must overcome the absences. "Of course we will miss a great defender like Jorge Andrade, but we are a strong team and if someone cannot play for whatever reason then someone else must come in and perform the same role."

Derlei boost
By contrast, Porto can welcome back Brazilian striker Derlei, sidelined by a knee injury since December but deemed fit enough to start Friday's league match at Rio Ave FC, a 1-0 defeat. However, he is unlikely to play from the off in La Coruna.

'Same as always'
Mourinho made it clear there would few changes to the side which has been so successful in Europe and which secured the domestic title on 24 April. "It is not difficult to guess the system we will play. We have used the same players throughout the competition and they have done well, so we will basically be the same as always."

McCarthy in attack
Expect, then, South African Benni McCarthy to spearhead the attack, supported by a five-man midfield of Maniche, Costinha, Dmitri Alenichev, Deco and the young Carlos Alberto, who could join McCarthy up front if required from his position on the wing.

Risk of suspension
Both teams will beware the threat of suspension. Fifteen players from either side are one card away from missing the final in Gelsenkirchen on 26 May. Mourinho hoped his players would stay calm and avoid bookings. "I hope my players control themselves - we do not want any pointless cards for silly things, it is important they avoid taking unnecessary risks," he said.

'A special match'
This is a match rich in possibilities and both coaches were confident of success. Irureta, whose team boosted morale with a 2-0 league win against Madrid on Saturday, said: "It will be important to keep possession of the ball. There will be a lot of physical contact out there, but it will be a special game at all levels."

'We can win'
Mourinho added: "We can win, lose or draw - who knows? Deportivo do not concede goals at home and Porto always score away. We are calm and I think we can win tomorrow and then win the final."

Last updated: 04/05/04 21.34CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=2003/matches/round=1715/match=1063679/prematch/preview/index.html#all+eyes+riazor

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