Brazilians make eastern promise

Two of the UEFA Champions League's many Brazilian players, PFC CSKA Moskva's Vágner Love and Elano Blumer of FC Shakhtar Donetsk are raring to go.

That Brazil produces a remarkable pool of footballing talent is hardly a revelation - yet again the South American nation is one of the five best represented countries in the UEFA Champions League squad lists, including a handful in the former Soviet Union.

CSKA run
Among the more established is PFC CSKA Moskva striker Vágner Love, who came to prominence in 2004/05 by inspiring the Russian side past Rangers FC and into the UEFA Champions League group stage. He then ended the season with the clinching goal in the UEFA Cup final against Sporting Clube de Portugal to give Russia its first European club trophy.

Elano bow
In the competition proper for the first time is Elano Blumer, who joined FC Shakhtar Donetsk in 2004/05 and took his overall UEFA competition tally to six goals with his penalty in the first leg of Shakhtar's third qualifying round win against Legia Warszawa. Neither went to the FIFA World Cup, but both were involved in Brazil's two recent friendlies in London; Elano scoring twice in the 3-0 defeat of Argentina and Vágner Love collecting the second as Wales were seen off 2-0.

'Very excited'
Now though they are focused on club duties and UEFA Champions League Matchday 1. The 25-year-old Elano, with the Ukrainian title-holders at AS Roma tonight, cannot wait. "I am very excited about the Champions League," he told uefa.com. "This is the first time I am taking part in the competition and I am going to give my best." It will not be easy against Roma, let alone Valencia CF or Olympiacos CFP in Group D. "I think Shakhtar's chances are good, despite being in a very difficult group," Elano added. "All three of our opponents will be tough teams to beat, great clubs who will also be thinking of reaching the next stage of the competition."

Porto reunion
Vágner Love, 22, is on familiar territory and hoping to go one better than two terms ago when CSKA were headed for the last 16 until a late FC Porto winner against Chelsea FC redirected them into the UEFA Cup. Inevitably, fate has decreed that CSKA visit Portugal on Wednesday for what he describes as "a huge match" against the 2004 European champions. This time Vágner Love feels more confident. "I believe CSKA have a good chance as the anxiety of playing in the Champions League for the first time is over," he said.

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