Defender João Pereira told UEFA.com that Sporting Clube de Portugal will be taking FC Metalist Kharkiv seriously as the free-scoring Ukrainians visit Lisbon for their UEFA Europa League quarter-final first leg.
Sporting have won all four previous matches against Ukrainian opposition, without conceding at home, but know they can expect a tough ride from a side that prevailed 1-0 at SL Benfica in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup – their one preceding Portuguese trip. "They have good players in attack," said the 28-year-old right-back. "They have the technical quality of the South Americans and we should not overlook that. If they have reached the quarter-finals, it is because they have a good team, very consistent."
Metalist boast Brazilians Fininho, Edmar, Marlos, Cleiton Xavier and Taison, plus an Argentinian contingent comprising Cristian Villagra, José Ernesto Sosa, Juan Manuel Torres, Sebastián Blanco, Jonathan Cristaldo and former Sporting player Marco Torsiglieri. "I know Torsiglieri very well as I played with him here at Sporting," João Pereira, a 13-times Portuguese international, noted. "However, I don't want to pick out any individuals because one player does not make a team."
Suspended for the 3-2 round of 16 loss at Manchester City FC that took Sporting through to the quarter-finals on away goals, João Pereira is aware that his team are in stirring form at home, with nine wins and a draw in their last ten European games at the Estádio José Alvalade. Metalist's 25 goals since the start of the group stage are not to be sniffed at, yet he feels Sporting do not need to make concessions to their opponents. "We must treat them with humility and show respect but, above all, we have to show our personality and play to win."
With memories of their 2004/05 final defeat by PFC CSKA Moskva at the Alvalade beginning to fade, Sporting dare to dream once more. "
We take things on a match-by-match basis, but since we have come through the group stage and are now in such an advanced stage of the competition, anything is possible," said João Pereira. "But our main goal is to win against Metalist and secure a semi-final place, which will not be easy."
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