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Jubilant Porto feeling fresh for Spartak test

Published: Wednesday 6 April 2011, 16.42CET
Having partied late after winning the Liga title, FC Porto are sure there will be no hangover against an FC Spartak Moskva team who have made an uncertain start to the Russian season.
by Carlos Santos & Dmitri Rogovitski
Jubilant Porto feeling fresh for Spartak test
Falcao (right) shares a joke in training on Wednesday ©Getty Images

Tournament statistics

PortoSpartak Moskva

Goals scored37
 
11
Attempts on target99
 
30
Attempts off target107
 
23
Corners112
 
17
Offsides20
 
15
Fouls committed223
 
88
Yellow cards23
 
15
Red cards4
 
0

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Published: Wednesday 6 April 2011, 16.42CET

Jubilant Porto feeling fresh for Spartak test

Having partied late after winning the Liga title, FC Porto are sure there will be no hangover against an FC Spartak Moskva team who have made an uncertain start to the Russian season.

Coach André Villas-Boas and star striker Falcao are confident the raucous celebrations that followed FC Porto's title triumph last weekend will not result in a UEFA Europa League hangover against FC Spartak Moskva.

After the party comes the challenge of returning to this competition with a competitive attitude
André Villas-Boas
I don't agree that we made the Europa League our priority to the detriment of the domestic league
Kirill Kombarov, Spartak defender

Porto wrapped up the Portuguese Liga with five matches to spare courtesy of Sunday's 2-1 win at the home of nearest rivals SL Benfica. What ensued was a night of frivolity at the Estádio do Dragão which lasted well into the small hours. Understandably, the players were given Monday off to recover.

Having presided over training upon their return to work on Tuesday, however, Villas-Boas has no qualms about his charges being switched on for the quarter-final first leg. "The party we had at the weekend won't be a problem on Thursday," said the coach, whose side are unbeaten in 25 league games this season.

"The most important thing is that we make the transition from euphoric to competitive," he continued. "After the party comes the challenge of returning to this competition with a competitive attitude. Playing the first leg at home won't be a problem, and we will take the example of the year we won the UEFA Cup [2003] when the away matches were fundamental to our progress through each round."

Falcao, Porto's seven-goal top scorer in Europe, echoed Villas-Boas's comments, saying: "We have to put our minds back on this competition." Nor is the Colombia forward fooled by Spartak's indifferent start to the Russian Premier-Liga campaign: their record of three points from as many games, with defeats in both their away fixtures, contrasts sharply with their European form.

"Spartak have won four matches away from home in Europe [this season] and that proves how strong they are," said Falcao, citing victories against AFC Ajax and FC Basel 1893 in the UEFA Europa League, and against MŠK Žilina and Olympique de Marseille in the UEFA Champions League. "They have a very good team. A good result would obviously be a win, but I think it will be a very interesting match due to their style of play."

Visiting midfielder Kirill Kombarov, meanwhile, denies Spartak have taken their eye off domestic duties because of their involvement in Europe. "I don't know the reasons for our defeats against [FC] Rostov and [FC] Kuban [Krasnodar]," he said. "I don't agree that we made the Europa League our priority to the detriment of the domestic league. The [3-1] defeat in Krasnodar will not affect our morale in Portugal. We always play to win and the next match is no exception."

Last updated: 07/04/11 15.07CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuropaleague/season=2011/matches/round=2000131/match=2007722/prematch/preview/index.html#porto+fresh+spartak+test

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