|A||Real Sociedad||Shakhtar Donetsk|
Jorge Jesus cut a resolute figure as he spelled out the challenge for SL Benfica ahead of their UEFA Champions League Group C showdown against RSC Anderlecht.
The Portuguese coach, who led his team to last season's UEFA Europa League final, also cast a studious eye over the Eagles' section rivals, billing Paris Saint-Germain FC as "clear favourites" to progress. Meanwhile, Benfica's penchant for attacking football dominated the musings of Anderlecht counterpart John van den Brom, who expects a stern test of his side's resolve in Lisbon.
Jorge Jesus, coach
It's merely coincidence [that the final will be at home]. Our motivation and responsibility is to be in Champions League and do well while we are there. The idea of playing the final here makes us determined to make a strong start to the tournament, but the fact that the final is in our stadium doesn't increase our motivation.
It's important to win as we know from experience that a side that gets ten points usually qualifies. This group is very equal, with Paris Saint-Germain being made clear favourites and the other teams more or less on a level with Benfica. If we win tomorrow we'll be in a better position than last year [when they drew 0-0 at Celtic FC].
What we think is that we can advance from this even group; all teams have the same chance of qualifying. If our opponents think Benfica are a weak team, let's see it on pitch. We can only prove we are not the weaker side.
Saturday: SL Benfica 3-1 FC Paços de Ferreira (Pérez 5, Garay 23 52; Rúben Ribeiro 50)
Artur; Maxi, Luisão, Garay, Siqueira (Almeida 62); Matić, Amorim (Fejsa 34), Pérez, Marković; Lima, Cardozo (John 75).
• Guilherme Siqueira and Ljubomir Fejsa made their competitive debuts for Benfica, who have now scored in their last 65 league home fixtures since losing 1-0 to A. Académica de Coimbra on 11 April 2009. Luisão, meanwhile, has donned the Benfica jersey for ten years, having made his debut on 14 September 2003 in a 3-3 draw at home against CF Os Belenenses.
Rúben Amorim, Nicolás Gaitán and Sílvio are all out with thigh problems, while Salvio is expected to miss the group stage with a knee injury. However, Jesus has allayed fears surrounding four players carrying minor knocks: Lazar Marković, Nemanja Matić, Siqueira and Enzo Pérez are all available.
John van den Brom, coach
We are growing from last season, adding a number of experienced international players to compliment a youthful squad. We believe we can record a good result but it won't be easy. Benfica's fans are great, even when the stadium is not full. Although they are without a few players, Benfica remain a very strong team. Benfica are an attacking side, with full-backs who like to get forward. I expect them to play their usual game with an emphasis on attack.
Saturday: RSC Anderlecht 5-0 KV Mechelen (Mitrović 2 38, Kljestan 18, Suárez 40, Acheampong 89)
Kaminski; Gillet, Kouyaté, Mbemba, N’Sakala; Bruno, Kljestan, Milivojević (De Zeeuw 65), Acheampong; Suárez (Cyriac 80), Mitrović (Praet 70).
• Anderlecht recovered from the 4-3 defeat at SV Zulte Waregem before the international break, Aleksandar Mitrović scoring twice on his home debut. Matías Suárez set up both and scored another to take his season tally to six. Chancel Mbemba was preferred to Bram Nuytinck in defence.
Goalkeeper Silvio Proto has been passed fit, meaning coach Van den Brom has a full complement of players at his disposal.
• The teams last met in the 2004/05 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round when Benfica won 1-0 in Lisbon – Zlatko Zahovič scoring the only goal in the 13th minute – but then lost 3-0 away. Olivier Deschacht, Anthony Vanden Borre and Anderlecht assistant coach Besnik Hasi all played in the games, as did Luisão.
©UEFA.com 1998-2011. All rights reserved.