Mircea Lucescu admits it is a surprise FC Shakhtar Donetsk and FC Porto meet holding the bottom places in Group G; the hosts' need to win makes them dangerous says Vítor Pereira.
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Mircea Lucescu admitted FC Shakhtar Donetsk and FC Porto expected much more from their Group G campaigns, with both sides' UEFA Champions League futures hanging by a thread as they meet in Ukraine. Shakhtar will definitely be out if they do not win and according to Porto coach Vítor Pereira, his third-placed side putting a weekend cup exit behind them, that makes the home side even more dangerous.
Coach Mircea Lucescu
We were both seen as the favourites in our group, but it has proved to be a more difficult tournament than anyone could have imagined. Porto and Shakhtar have had big problems. Their coach [André Villas-Boas] left before the start of the season along with their best forward, Falcao. As for us, defeat at Porto combined with the absence of two key defenders set the tone for our unsuccessful run. Unfortunately, our future depends on the result of Zenit's match against APOEL [they need Zenit to win]. We'll do our best so that our players don't hear what is happening in St Petersburg.
Both sides still have big ambitions, as proved by winning the UEFA Cup and Europa League in recent years. Once again we have problems; Dmytro Chygrynskiy is injured and Darijo Srna is suspended. On the other hand, Fernandinho is ready to play, and he is a key player because of his skill and experience. We are preparing for the match with the right attitude. I hope that our supporters will see a spectacular game.
Saturday: Shakhtar 2-0 FC Metalurh Donetsk (Luiz Adriano 64pen, Shevchuk 88)
Rybka; Kobin, Rakitskiy, Kucher, Shevchuk; Hübschman, Mkhitaryan, Dentinho (Fernandinho 52), Jadson (Alex Teixeira 62), Willian (Douglas Costa 68); Luiz Adriano
• Luiz Adriano scored Shakhtar's first penalty of the season as the Pitmen secured only their second win in five home games. Vyacheslav Shevchuk's strike took him to a career best three league goals this term.
Jadson returned on Saturday having missed Shakhtar's last four games with a muscle injury while Fernandinho, out with a muscle problem since matchday three, made his comeback as Brazil beat Egypt 2-0 on 14 November and featured as a substitute against Metalurh. Srna is suspended after picking up a third booking on matchday four.
Coach Vítor Pereira
It's not correct to compare the game against Académica in the Portuguese Cup to a Champions League match, so I don't want to discuss that match any more. We should forget Saturday's defeat as soon as possible. This is a completely different level. We've come here well prepared with an excellent attitude. Right now we are in our best form. Porto need to win in Donetsk to open the door to the knockout stage.
Which strategy we will use? We should play fast, aggressive football. At the same time we understand that Shakhtar will lose all chance of reaching the knockout stage if they don't win tomorrow. Our opponents will take risks. They'll do their best to achieve victory. That's why we should be very careful. I have faith in our team and in the talents of our players.
Saturday: A. Académica de Coimbra 3-0 FC Porto (Marinho 64, Silva 82, Valente 88)
Bracali; Maicon, Rolando, Otamendi, Pereira; Moutinho (Defour 67), Fernando, Belluschi (James Rodríguez 60); Hulk, Walter, Varela (Kléber 68)
• Winners the past three seasons, Porto were knocked out of the Portuguese Cup in the fourth round by a team they beat 3-0 in the league on 2 October.
Fredy Guarín returned from international duty with a calf problem and did not feature on Saturday.
Porto have not failed to qualify from the group stage of a UEFA club competition since finishing bottom of their UEFA Champions League section in 2005/06. They have a record of two wins and a draw on past visits to Ukraine, most recently a 2-1 success at FC Dynamo Kyiv in the 2008/09 group stage, in which Rolando equalised and Lucho González hit an added-time winner.