Jesualdo Ferreira is adamant his FC Porto side will not be underestimating out-of-form Olympique de Marseille when the two teams meet at the Estádio do Dragão.
Jesualdo Ferreira is adamant that his FC Porto side will not be underestimating their UEFA Champions League opponents Olympique de Marseille when the teams meet at the Estádio do Dragão, despite the French outfit's poor domestic form.
"OM still have players with great quality," said Ferreira. "They are playing very well in the UEFA Champions League, and playing in Europe is completely different." Ferreira's point is endorsed by the fact that while Marseille have won just two out of 13 Ligue 1 games this term, they have earned as many victories from only three UEFA Champions League outings – leaving them top of Group D at the halfway stage.
Ferreira confirmed that he will not be able to call on his talismanic captain Lucho González, who was injured in the warm-up to Friday's 1-1 home draw against CF Os Belenenses and, despite starting the match, lasted just eleven minutes. It will be the first time that Lucho – who scored Porto's equaliser in the 1-1 draw between the clubs at the Stade Vélodrome a fortnight ago – has missed a UEFA Champions League game since he joined the Portuguese champions from CA River Plate in 2005. Ferreira is, however, able to welcome back defender Bosingwa and he wants his side to grasp their opportunity and do what he feels they should have done in France. "We played very well in the first game and it wasn't a fair result," argued Ferreira. "Now we have a chance to take over as group leaders."
Ferreira's Marseille counterpart Erik Gerets insists that the mood in the camp is buoyant despite his team slipping to 19th position in Ligue 1 after Saturday's goalless home draw with FC Lorient. "Morale is high because we're playing a UEFA Champions League match," said the head coach. The 1993 European champions can qualify for the tournament's second stage for the first time since 1999/2000 by winning at the Dragão, and Gerets says the aim is to do just that: "My philosophy is always the same. If there is a one per cent chance of us winning, we have to go for it."
Gerets is planning no major tactical changes from Marseille's last away performance in the competition, which brought a shock 1-0 triumph at Liverpool FC on Matchday 2. "I won't ask for anything different from the players, than I did when we played Liverpool," the former Belgian international defender said, though he admitted: "Porto have talented individuals but are strong as a team too. That's why they're in the UEFA Champions League every year."
Marseille are not and while they are making inroads in their first campaign in four years, their abject domestic form makes a return look highly unlikely. "We've lifted our level of performance against the big teams," said captain Lorik Cana, "and I hope that our good form continues. We're in a very good position to qualify."