Lisandro López believes FC Porto's strong team spirit will enable them to see off the challenge of FC Schalke 04 and continue their bid for a second title in four years.
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Lisandro López believes FC Porto's strong team spirit will enable them to see off the challenge of FC Schalke 04 and continue their bid for a second UEFA Champions League title in four years.
Porto trail 1-0 to Schalke after the defeat in Gelsenkirchen, scene of their 2004 triumph, but the striker – who turned 25 on Sunday – is confident the Portuguese Liga leaders can turn the scoreline around. "We are very motivated and there's a great mood of determination in the squad," he said. "We hope this will produce the right result at the end of the night."
Now in his third term at the Estádio do Dragão, former Racing Club player López is having his best season yet: his two goals in the UEFA Champions League enhance an astonishing scoring record of 18 in 19 Portuguese Liga matches. "I hope I can carry on scoring and helping the club," he said. "I've always felt very good here."
López, however, is under no illusions that he and his team-mates face a tough task against Schalke. "They are a strong team, especially physically," he said, pointing to the Bundesliga club's defensive record, which shows just two away goals conceded in this season's competition – on Matchday 3 at Chelsea FC. "It's not easy to score against Schalke," he said, "but we will work to make chances." The Argentinian knows that Porto will have to make the most of their own strengths tfo prevail. "They defend very well, but we know how to attack too," he added.
Emphasising the need for calm, López agrees with coach Jesualdo Ferreira that Porto's approach must be methodical if they are to improve on last year's first knockout round exit to Chelsea. "Like the coach said, we have our ideas about what we want to do clear in our heads," the forward said. "First we have to equalise [on aggregate], and then carry on and score again to make sure we go through to the quarter-finals."
Given his outstanding form, López has recently been linked with a recall to the Argentina squad and the possibility of adding to the two international caps he won in 2005. "It is logical for people to say this when you are playing well and scoring goals," he said. "I hope to continue in this way to earn further plaudits. I'm just going to stay as motivated as I have been, and to stay mentally strong."