Raul Meireles believes that FC Porto's depth and experience will help mask their lack of match practice after a quiet period in domestic football as they prepare to resume their Group F campaign at home to FC Dynamo Kyiv.
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Raul Meireles believes FC Porto's depth and experience will help mask any lack of match practice as a group as they prepare to resume UEFA Champions League Group G campaign.
Porto meet FC Dynamo Kyiv at the Estádio do Dragão having played just twice since their Matchday 2 defeat at Arsenal FC three weeks ago, and coach Jesualdo Ferreira chose to rest a host of regulars – Meireles included – for Saturday's 4-0 Portuguese Cup win against third-tier Sertanense FC. But Meireles believes this is irrelevant given the cosmopolitan nature of the Portuguese champions' squad. "Porto players are used to this kind of thing," said the 25-year-old, one of only three Portuguese in the first-choice lineup. "We have experienced players and many of them have played in different championships all over the world, so we are ready for anything."
Meireles himself has been busy away from the Dragão, starting Portugal's recent 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches against Sweden and Albania, both ending goalless. Despite the mixed results by Carlos Queiroz's national team of late, the midfielder continues to enjoy the challenge of being a crucial element for both club and country, and says he doesn't feel under any undue pressure. "I know both of my coaches are happy with me," he said. "So I'm just carrying on, working as hard as ever."
Good start important
Nor does Meireles think that Porto are feeling the heat after their heavy 4-0 defeat away to Arsenal in their last European outing. "All the games in the Champions League are big, so I don't think this carries more importance than the last one or the next one," he said. The opening win against Fenerbahçe SK means that despite their loss in London Porto still hold second place in the group. "The first game is in many ways the most important one, and we won that," he added.
Meireles admits he has been impressed by Yuri Semin's Dynamo side, who are much stronger than the side that lost 3-0 to Porto's domestic rivals Sporting Clube de Portugal a year ago, a result left them as only the seventh club to end a UEFA Champions League group stage without a point. "They're tactically very strong," Meireles said. "And they are strong collectively, just like us." Certainly, the former Boavista FC midfielder is taking no omens from Porto's last meeting with Dynamo, in the semi-finals on the way to winning the trophy in 1986/87. "I've only been here four years!" exclaimed Meireles.