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Porto primed for 'decisive game'

Published: Monday 1 November 2004, 21.45CET
The meeting of holders FC Porto and Paris Saint-Germain FC has been described as crucial by both coaches.

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Published: Monday 1 November 2004, 21.45CET

Porto primed for 'decisive game'

The meeting of holders FC Porto and Paris Saint-Germain FC has been described as crucial by both coaches.

By Fergus O'Shea in Porto

The Group H meeting of UEFA Champions League holders FC Porto and Paris Saint-Germain FC at the Estádio do Dragão has been described as "decisive" by the coaches of both clubs.

Solitary point
The Portuguese side have collected only a single point from their first three games in this season's competition, while the fortunes of their French opponents appear to have changed after a disastrous start to their campaign saw them lose their first two games, before a 2-0 victory against Porto in Paris two weeks ago.

'Working and fighting'
Nevertheless, Porto coach Victor Fernández feels a win against PSG might be just the boost his side need to kick-start their season, saying: "If we win we will be a team with a chance in the Champions League and that would contribute to the continuity that we are lacking at present. Porto are working and fighting for that stability."

Cup exit
Since the last meeting of these sides a fortnight ago, PSG have performed the better, defeating AC Ajaccio 1-0 before earning a 1-1 draw at third-placed AJ Auxerre at the weekend. Porto, meanwhile, remain unbeaten in the Portuguese Superliga this season but lost 2-1 to Vitória SC in the Portuguese Cup fourth round last Wednesday.

Porto threat
PSG coach Vahid Halilhodzic does not accept that Porto's disappointing campaign to date augurs well for his side, saying: "If Porto play well then the past results won't matter. A draw would be a good result against the European champions."

'Dangerous and decisive'
PSG's Portugese defender Hélder echoed the views of his coach. "It will be a very dangerous and decisive game," he said. "Porto play very offensively at home and we expect to be attacked from the start, but I think we are well prepared for that."

Rothen out
Injuries and suspensions have troubled both teams since their last meeting. PSG midfield player Jérôme Rothen has been sidelined by the fractured ankle he sustained in that game, while Reinaldo is suffering from hamstring trouble and has remained in France.

Costinha concussed
Porto, meanwhile, are also without a notable midfield presence as Costinha was ruled out by concussion after suffering a blow to the head against Guimarães, but Fernández is offering no excuses. "We are used to having lots of injured players for each game," the Porto coach said. "Their absences are negative, but we won't use them as excuses to explain anything. The 19 players I have selected now are much more important."

Bosingwa steps in
In Costinha's place Bosingwa should step in, and the young midfield player believes he is up to the challenge, saying: "I am just thinking about helping the team to win the three points, because they are very important for our qualification. I am only 22 years old and I want to be important for Porto. With a little more concentration at the decisive moments I think we should win, but we will also need the full support of all our fans."

'Effective presence'
With the home side's need for the points the more urgent, Fernández acknowledges that the onus is on Porto to attack. "I expect a different game to the one [in Paris]," he said. "I guess that PSG will adopt a strategy of counterattack and will be waiting for us. We'll need to have a more effective presence in the penalty area in order to score goals, but I hope that this game will be totally different."

Last updated: 02/11/04 9.22CET