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No fear for Gerets ahead of Porto game

Published: Wednesday 24 October 2007, 6.37CET
Erik Gerets feels the spirit among his Olympique de Marseille team is "even better" than it was before the win at Liverpool FC as they prepare to host Porto FC.
by Chris Burke
No fear for Gerets ahead of Porto game
Eric Gerets feels the spirit in his squad can see them beat Porto ©Getty Images

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Published: Wednesday 24 October 2007, 6.37CET

No fear for Gerets ahead of Porto game

Erik Gerets feels the spirit among his Olympique de Marseille team is "even better" than it was before the win at Liverpool FC as they prepare to host Porto FC.

FC Porto can consider themselves warned. With the Portuguese champions due to visit on Wednesday, Olympique de Marseille coach Erik Gerets considers the spirit among his players to be "even better" than it was before their stunning 1-0 win at Liverpool FC on Matchday 2.

Perfect attitude
That performance kicked off the Belgian's reign in sensational style, but more importantly it continued Marseille's perfect start in Group A. Victory over the 2004 competition winners would catapult them five points clear at the summit and Gerets feels his team have the perfect attitude to do just that. "We're up against one of the best outfits in Europe and we respect them, but we don't fear them," he said. "I'd say the spirit here is even better than it was before we played Liverpool, because now we've seen we can create surprises in the [UEFA] Champions League."

Porto threat
The former Galatasaray AS trainer is in no doubt that Porto will provide a stern challenge, however, particularly since the visitors know an away win would take them top. "It's going to be difficult but even difficult things can be achieved," he said. "Porto's style of play is well-known: it's all about good technique, speed and a solid defence. They also have individuals like Ricardo Quaresma who are capable of turning a game, but we'll have our own chances. The most important thing is not to lose."

Rodriguez blow
With that being the case, Gerets would have been frustrated to lose experienced centre-back Julien Rodriguez to a thigh injury in Sunday's 1-0 triumph over RC Lens, Marseille's first home success in Ligue 1 this season and a result that lifted them out of the relegation zone. Karim Ziani also picked up a knock in that encounter, to join Samir Nasri and goalkeeper Cédric Carrasso on the sidelines, but left-back Taye Taiwo is available after suspension, which should mean Gaël Givet returning to central defence.

Familiar tactics
Porto sent assistant coach and former Marseille striker Rui Gil Barros to observe the Lens match, but despite his insights coach Jesualdo Ferreira promised to follow his usual game plan. "We might make some minor changes but overall our tactics will be the same as ever," he said, staying loyal to the approach that earned them a 1-0 win at Beşiktaş JK last time out. That will mean a three-man midfield, with wide men Quaresma and Tarik Sektioui supporting lone striker Lisandro López, who has six goals in six Portuguese league appearances.

Marseille respect
The Argentinian has been one of the driving forces behind Porto's excellent domestic showing, with their seven straight victories a club best since 1939/40. And although they have not taken the field since 7 October, they arrive with fresh legs and a clean bill of health. Full-backs Bosingwa and Fucile have been passed fit, while Hélder Postiga returns from a knee injury to provide another option in attack. "We have alternatives in every position," added Ferreira. "But whoever plays we will respect Marseille. They're a mythical team in a mythical stadium and they've achieved great things in the past."

Last updated: 24/10/07 21.37CET