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Having reached the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds for the first time, defender Abel says the opportunity to "continue making history" is high among the motivating factors for a Sporting Clube de Portugal side taking on FC Bayern München at the Estádio José Alvalade.
After four failed attempts to negotiate the group stage, Sporting finally qualified for the last 16 with two games to spare in November. They then warmed up for their first knockout round debut by producing arguably their best performance of the season on Saturday, defeating Lisbon rivals SL Benfica to boost their Liga title challenge.
"Without doubt, we're well-prepared for this one," said Abel, who is tipped to replace Pedro Silva at right-back after being overlooked for the 3-2 derby triumph. "We feel very good at the moment, we are confident of getting through to the next round. We have a lot of different factors to motivate us, and to continue making history is one of them."
Despite the German champions slipping to fourth spot in the Bundesliga after suffering their first home reverse since September – at the hands of 1. FC Köln at the weekend – Abel dismissed talk of Sporting wearing the favourites' tag. "This is our debut at this level and against a team like Bayern we're not favourites," he said. "The league and the Champions League are totally different in every way. They're one of the best-known and strongest teams left in the competition."
Should Abel earn a place in Paulo Bento's starting XI, the 30-year-old is likely to come face to face with Franck Ribéry. Abel is an admirer of Bayern's talismanic Frenchman, yet knows the Lions cannot afford to concentrate solely on the midfielder: "He's a player we know very well, as he is world-famous now. He has a lot of respect throughout the football world, but they have quality throughout their team."
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