FC Dynamo Kyiv and Sporting Clube de Portugal approach Matchday 2 with the aim of putting domestic setbacks behind them and open their Group F accounts.
FC Dynamo Kyiv and Sporting Clube de Portugal go into UEFA Champions League Matchday 2 seeking to put weekend disappointments on the domestic front behind them by collecting their first points in Group F.
Dynamo lost 1-0 at home against the Ukrainian Premier League's bottom club, FC Naftovyk-Ukrnafta Okhtyrka, while Sporting have failed to win in four games in all competitions, including Saturday's 0-0 Liga draw at Lisbon rivals SL Benfica. "I didn't expect a display like that from the team I picked. Maybe we overestimated ourselves," said Dynamo coach József Szabó, who rested regulars including goalkeeper Olexandr Shovkovskiy, striker Maksim Shatskikh and centre-back Goran Gavrančić.
"Now we have to restore pride and perform against Sporting. I hope my players don't take it easy," added Szabó, who returned for a fourth spell in charge of Dynamo a day after the Matchday 1 defeat at AS Roma. The 67-year-old predicts an improvement, saying: "I do not need to motivate them for this match. This a serious competition, a serious rival, so the players have to motivate themselves to give their all. I need the lads to be itching to play at their best, which was not the case against Naftovyk.
"Sporting are a quick side who play well on the break, they have pace and skilful players so they will cause us problems. We respect them but we are not going to lose. We will give them a battle in order to progress in the Champions League," continued the man now at the helm of last season's Ukrainian treble winners. Szabó is boosted by striker Kleber's return to fitness after a bout of flu while defender Andriy Nesmachniy is back in training following a thigh injury. Centre-back Pape Diakhate (broken collarbone) and leading scorer Ismaël Bangoura (rib) are sidelined, however.
Sporting, meanwhile, are hopeful of a return for midfielder Marat Izmailov following an achilles problem. "He was looking OK in training and I am happy with his physical condition. However, we will have to wait to see if he can play," said coach Paulo Bento, who is still shorn of long-term absentees Pedro Silva, Derlei (both knee) and Marián Had (thigh). Forward Liedson has overcome a calf complaint.
Bento, whose side succumbed 1-0 at home to Manchester United FC on opening night, is in little doubt as to the value of three points against Dynamo. Even so, he does not believe a defeat would spell the end of his team's Group F chances. "We have set ourselves certain goals, including getting to the knockout stage. The Dynamo match is very important but I do not think it is a decider," he said. Expect a tight contest. "Matches at this level rarely have many goals, especially when both sides are striving for victory. So interceptions, fast breaks and switching quickly from defence to attack become important, and we feel strong in these areas. But do not anticipate many goals."