FC Porto captain Bruno Alves has urged his team-mates to keep a close eye on his Arsenal FC counterpart Cesc Fàbregas when the teams meet in the first knockout round tie on Wednesday.
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Bruno Alves will shake hands with fellow captain Cesc Fàbregas when FC Porto take on Arsenal FC in the UEFA Champions League first knockout round first leg in Portugal on Wednesday and the Dragons skipper has warned his team-mates not to take their eyes off the Spanish midfielder.
While keen to highlight the "excellent" and "world class" players among the ranks of the English Premier League team, Alves – who scored in a 2-0 victory against Arsenal on Matchday 6 last season – reserved special praise for Fàbregas. Alves identified the 22-year-old as the creative hub of the Gunners' play, and not keeping him under close scrutiny could be costly. "Fàbregas is the most important player in Arsenal's attacking play," said centre-back Alves. "He organises the game and we have to be prepared for him."
Porto have lost their last two home encounters with English opposition in this competition – 1-0 to Manchester United FC in the quarter-final last term and by the same scoreline against Chelsea in this season's group stage on 25 November – but Alves is not concerned. "Our main goal is to gain a good advantage in tomorrow's game," Alves said. "We go into every competition with a winning mentality; the Champions League is no an exception."
Fueling the Portuguese international's desire is Porto's 2004 triumph over AS Monaco FC in the Gelsenkirchen final and the 28-year-old sees no reason why the Estádio do Dragão club cannot strike gold once more. "Our goal is very clear: to win this competition," he said. "We have a dream of becoming UEFA Champions League winners once again and we believe we can do it."