Luís Castro has told FC Porto to keep faith in their attacking ways as they look to make the most of home advantage against Sevilla FC.
This has been a difficult campaign for the Dragons. Sunday's 2-1 defeat at CD Nacional left them requiring a remarkable turnaround to even finish runners-up to SL Benfica, slipping eight points adrift of incumbents Sporting Clube de Portugal with five games remaining. They may lead Benfica after the first leg of their Portuguese Cup semi-final but it is the UEFA Europa League that provides the biggest prize over the coming six weeks.
"It's a huge match for us," interim coach Castro said of the quarter-final meeting with Sevilla. "Everyone at the club wants to go through to the next round. Sevilla have shown their value as a team, they have had a solid season and have reached this stage of the competition, which makes them a good team. Still, we are focused on our game, because we know that if we play our game and have our fans behind us, we will get a good result."
There have not been many of those this season, yet most of Porto's problems have been on their travels. At home, they have lost just one of their last 17 matches and won each of their last four, including the 1-0 victory over SSC Napoli that set up their round of 16 triumph. "We want to win this first leg," said Castro, who will manage the side until the end of term following Paulo Fonseca's 5 March dismissal. "We want a well-balanced Porto side, but a team that constantly have their sights on the goal."
His opposite number Unai Emery is without suspended defenders Stéphane Mbia and Federico Fazio, and injured midfielders Sebastián Cristóforo and Denis Cheryshev, but fit-again Daniel Carriço is available and the Sevilla coach – his team unbeaten in seven UEFA Europa League away games – said: "This opportunity is fantastic, this is our chance to surpass ourselves.
"Porto are very strong as a unit. They have [Eliaquim] Mangala in good shape, their full-backs are very attacking and Jackson Martínez is a great forward. They also have very good wingers, yet the most important factor for us is ourselves."
Carriço is not Sevilla's only Portuguese player as the Andalusians boast former Porto keeper Beto, in goal for the last-16 shoot-out defeat of city rivals Real Betis Balompié . "It's a very special game for me, but the most important thing is that I'm an option to play tomorrow," he said. "Porto are used to winning, with a lot heart, but Sevilla have got Europe used to our good performances and tomorrow we will do our best to get a positive result."
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