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Raul Meireles says FC Porto will be going all out to win Group A as well as to confirm qualification for the UEFA Champions League knockout stage when they meet Beşiktaş JK on Tuesday.
Aiming for first
Porto go into the Estádio do Dragão fixture knowing a point will be enough to guarantee their presence in the last 16. Meireles insists, however, that playing for a draw could not be further from their minds. "Our sole objective is to finish in first place," said the midfielder. Despite the heavy defeat at Liverpool FC on Matchday 5, the Portuguese champions remain in control of the section and victory will seal top spot and, potentially, a more favourable outcome in the first knockout round draw on 21 December. "We're in a good position, and are concentrating solely on winning and staying top of the group," he said.
The 24-year-old has played in all five matches in the group, the pick of which was arguably Porto's 1-0 win at the Inönü Stadium on Matchday 2 when Ricardo Quaresma scored the only goal. "It was quite an even game in Istanbul," he continued. "Beşiktaş are a pretty strong team, and we respect all of their players." The Portuguese international is confident, though, there will be no repeat of the late collapse at Anfield, when the Dragons conceded three times in the last 12 minutes to lose 4-1: "We're over it. We always approach games in the same way, but we're going to play with the same rhythm for the whole 90 minutes."
Meireles also backs coach Jesualdo Ferreira's rotation policy, after he was one of a number of first-team regulars left out of Friday's Portuguese Cup defeat of GD Chaves, along with the likes of Lucho González and Quaresma. "We're a big, strong group of players," he said. "With the workload that there is, the coach thought it was good to rest some players and give others match time. It's good for the group." How good will be clear on Tuesday.
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