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Simão's Benfica ready to deliver

Published: Wednesday 1 November 2006, 1.34CET
After a mixed start to the season, SL Benfica captain Simão has warned Celtic FC that his team are ready to hit top form in their key Group F match tonight.
by Simon Hart
from Lisbon

Tournament statistics

BenficaCeltic

Goals scored7
 
8
Attempts on target28
 
33
Attempts off target26
 
24
Corners26
 
27
Offsides25
 
21
Fouls committed104
 
126
Yellow cards9
 
17
Red cards0
 
0
 
Published: Wednesday 1 November 2006, 1.34CET

Simão's Benfica ready to deliver

After a mixed start to the season, SL Benfica captain Simão has warned Celtic FC that his team are ready to hit top form in their key Group F match tonight.

SL Benfica are ready to hit top form in their key UEFA Champions League meeting with Celtic FC, according to captain Simão.

Big performance due
Fernando Santos's side have frustrated their fans with their inconsistency this season and go into tonight's match third in Group F with just one point. However, Simão believes a big performance is due following an impressive display of character at FC Porto on Saturday. Despite losing to a last-minute goal, they produced probably their best 45 minutes of the season as they fought back from 2-0 down to 2-2 in the second period.

Important
"Despite our inconsistency, the team have been improving with each game and [on Wednesday] we will be at our best," Simão told uefa.com. "I am sure we can play at the level we played in the second half in Porto. It's an important game, we have to win to keep alive our hopes of progressing in this competition and we'll do our best to get the three points."

Warning to Celtic
Only a victory will maintain Benfica's prospects but despite losing 3-0 at Celtic Park a fortnight ago, Simão warned the Scottish champions that they could expect a different game at the Estádio da Luz, saying: "We started the game [at Celtic] well until the first goal and the final result was not a fair reflection. Tomorrow will be a different game."

Transfer talk
Like his team, Simão has suffered a mixed start to the campaign. After returning from the FIFA World Cup, the Portuguese international's pre-season was disrupted by talk of a transfer out of Lisbon. Short of fitness when the campaign began, he also took time to adjust to new coach Santos's switch from a 4-3-3 system to 4-4-2. From a wide attacking role, he now plays left midfield, albeit with a brief to move inside and make things happen.

'Reaching top form'
Simão, who celebrated his 27th birthday yesterday, said: "I did not have a proper pre-season due to the fact I was close to a transfer. But now I feel I am reaching top form and tomorrow I hope to help us get the result we need."

Last updated: 01/11/06 22.57CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=2006/matches/round=2357/match=1116372/prematch/focus/index.html#simaos+benfica+ready+deliver

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