Coach Jesualdo Ferreira is adamant that FC Porto will not underestimate the challenge posed by Beşiktaş JK as both look to land a knockout blow at the Dragão.
Coach Jesualdo Ferreira is adamant FC Porto will not underestimate the challenge of Beşiktaş JK as the Portuguese side attempt to rubber-stamp qualification for the knockout stage for the fourth time in five UEFA Champions League campaigns.
"They're a strong team," said Ferreira, whose charges will advance by avoiding defeat on Tuesday – and as Group A winners should they triumph – but face elimination if they become Beşiktaş's first away victims in the section. The coach is certainly not fooled by the Black Eagles' poor form on the road so far, which includes the heaviest defeat in UEFA Champions League history, an 8-0 humbling at Liverpool FC. "We know they will be very difficult," he said. "They beat [Olympique de] Marseille and Liverpool at home. The fact they lost in Marseille and Liverpool won't affect our plans."
Ferreira can, however, take confidence from the fact Porto are the only side in the pool to have left the Inönü Stadium with any points this term, having won 1-0 in Istanbul on Matchday 2 when Ricardo Quaresma scored in added time. The 61-year-old accepts that the Liga leaders will be favourites, especially as they have bounced back from a 4-1 loss at Liverpool last time out by beating SL Benfica and advancing in the Portuguese Cup. "It's normal," he said. We're the leaders after five games. We have built this position. We're not preoccupied with anything else, just with winning the group."
Ferreira assures the Estádio do Dragão faithful that their idols will not sit back and play safe – in return, the players will be wanting the home crowd to help push them over the line. The former SC Braga boss said: "They expect things from us. They give great support to the team, and the bond between them and the team is important. We intend to win the game, and to win the group." It is eleven years since Porto topped a section in the competition, while Beşiktaş are trying to "make history" by reaching the last 16 for the first time.
"This game is very important, both for our team and for Turkish football," said Ertuğrul Sağlam. "This isn't a game where the players need motivating." The coach knows only a win will keep his side in Europe, yet he hardly wore the look of a worried man on the eve of the match. "I prefer to play in games like this, where we have to win," said the 38-year-old. "We know Porto well. They're a strong team with many good players and are tricky opponents, especially at home."
Sağlam saw his charges prevail by 1-0 at Bursaspor in the Turkish Süper Lig on Friday, and he has hinted that he could field the same starting XI in northern Portugal as Márcio Nobre and Ricardinho are both ruled out. It is a source of obvious pride to him that Beşiktaş remain in contention going into Matchday 6. "Everyone thought the top two would be Porto and Liverpool, and it would be a struggle between us and Marseille for third place," he said. "Now we have it in our own hands."