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FC Porto defender Bruno Alves believes his side can take a big step towards qualifying for the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League in Wednesday's game against APOEL.
Porto have hardly set Group D alight, but they are second only to Chelsea after two games, two points ahead of Cypriot side APOEL and Club Atlético de Madrid. Bruno Alves is well aware of the impact another three points could have on the 2004 European champions' bid to reach the knockout stages. "This is a very important match, because we think that if we win it, we'll go some way towards reaching the next round," he said. "Basically, we want to have a good game – and to be winners at the end of it."
Though he sees the meeting at the Estádio do Dragão as a potential fillip for his own team, Bruno Alves is keen to urge caution for opponents whose maiden group-stage campaign has coincided with domestic travails: they are only sixth in the Cypriot Division A. "We have respect for all teams, the names don't matter to us," said the 27-year-old. "No matter what team we're facing we have to do a good job, go out with that winning mentality, and that's how we're preparing to face APOEL."
The game in Porto will reunite Bruno Alves with a couple of familiar faces – APOEL's Christos Kontis and Dionisios Chiotis were team-mates at AEK Athens in 2004/05. "It will be a pleasure to meet them and play against them," he said. "I hope they perform well." That said, the centre-back is keen that the side as a whole should return home empty-handed, still seeking their first ever group-stage goal. "It's always a challenge for me to prevent opponents from scoring," he said. "And we have been studying APOEL to make sure it doesn't happen."
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