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Preview: Porto v Athletic

FC Porto coach Julen Lopetegui has asked his team "to give joy to our fans" with a strong showing against Athletic Club, who have won just twice in all competitions this season.

The Porto players are put through their paces during training on Monday
The Porto players are put through their paces during training on Monday ©AFP/Getty Images

Julen Lopetegui believes Athletic are better than their Group H placing suggests
He says the Dragons "are eager to bounce back" from their weekend cup exit
The 3-1 defeat by Sporting Clube de Portugal was Porto's first this season
Athletic have won only twice in all competitions this term
However, coach Ernesto Valverde says "the dressing room feels better"

Possible lineups
Porto: Fabiano; Danilo, Maicon, Martins Indi, Alex Sandro; Neves, Herrera, Torres; Tello, Jackson, Brahimi.

Athletic: Iraizoz; Iraola, Gurpegui, Laporte, Balenziaga; Iturraspe, Mikel Rico; Gómez, De Marcos, Muniain; Aduriz.
Out: Ager Aketxe (broken toe)

Julen Lopetegui, Porto coach
It's good to have a game so soon after [losing on] Saturday because we are eager to bounce back. We are looking forward to tomorrow and playing against a good team who will not make it easy for us. We conceded goals that were our fault and we need to improve by being more diligent in our decision-making. We are also doing a lot of good things too, so we have to keep doing them well when we play against our most difficult opponents so far.

The cup game is gone now and we are only thinking about tomorrow. Athletic's placing in the group doesn't reflect their quality – they are better than that. They deserved to win their last game, for example, and they are the best team we have faced so far.

We want to play well tomorrow, to give joy to our fans and to stay ahead in a group that will be close until the end. I'm sure it will be a very well-balanced game. Athletic are a special team, I have a lot of respect for them. I'm a big fan of their history, their way of working and the way they approach football.

Athletic players train on Monday
Athletic players train on Monday©AFP/Getty Images

Ernesto Valverde, Athletic coach
Our priority is the league, but we want to get good results here as well. We worked hard to be able to play these games and now we want to win them. It is clear to see that if we lose, it will be hard for us to qualify for the next phase.

Porto are a big team who are used to playing in the Champions League. They have a good coach and a great attacking line, with the likes of [Cristian] Tello and Jackson [Martínez]. They are also consistent in defence, making them a strong outfit. They have had injuries, but they have an advantage as they have the players to rotate.

The dressing room feels better after [the 1-1 draw with Celta Vigo at the weekend]. This is the first time I have played here. I know that Porto have great wingers and they normally attack from out wide. We know that Lopetegui knows our team and our players well, but we have also watched pretty much all of Porto's matches so far this season.

Weekend results
Porto 1-3 Sporting (Jackson Martínez 35; Marcano og 31, Nani 39, Carrillo 83)
Athletic 1-1 RC Celta da Vigo (Aritz Aduriz 6pen; Nolito 73)

Form guide (all competitions)
Athletic: DLLDLL

Match facts
• In what year did these clubs last meet in Europe? Find out in our extensive match background.

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