Karpin asks the real Spartak to stand up to Porto

Valeri Karpin urged his FC Spartak Moskva players to rediscover their old selves as the Russian side aim to go down fighting in the face of a seemingly insurmountable 5-1 first-leg deficit.

Valeri Karpin oversees training at the Luzhniki Stadion on Tuesday
Valeri Karpin oversees training at the Luzhniki Stadion on Tuesday ©Getty Images

With a UEFA Europa League semi-final berth seemingly out of reach following a 5-1 first-leg defeat, FC Spartak Moskva coach Valeri Karpin has told his players to show their true colours in Thursday's return meeting with FC Porto.

A pair of late goals from hat-trick hero Falcao gave the newly crowned Portuguese champions a healthy advantage last week, and Karpin does not expect his charges to be able to fight their way back. "We will try to prove that the first game was below our usual standards and put in a worthy performance," he said.

"I don't need to motivate the team. If anyone needs a motivating speech from the coach after a defeat like that, they'd be better off not taking to the pitch. To think about winning 4-0 isn't right; we just have to show that what happened in Porto wasn't up to our usual standard, except for the first 20 or 25 minutes."

Porto boss André Villas-Boas took a similar view, stressing that 5-1 was not an accurate reflection of the difference between the teams. "Spartak were very strong for the opening 25 minutes and created a couple of good chances before we more or less took control," he added. "I think Spartak were very, very unlucky to concede those two late goals.

"Tomorrow won't be a walk in the park: Spartak are a serious team and they will be highly motivated so we are taking our preparations very seriously," said Villas-Boas, whose side stretched their winning run to nine games on Sunday with a 3-2 victory at Portimonense SC, though at the cost of a calf injury which rules out Fernando Belluschi. "We may have some freedom in how we play, a chance to improvise; but our task is simply to advance to the next round."

Karpin says he will be satisfied with a victory, any victory, but more importantly he wants Spartak to "discover our old selves" after a run of three defeats and the weekend 0-0 draw at home to FC Terek Grozny in their last six matches. "We have to restore confidence because we've suffered a few losses. We can compete with Porto, but only if we follow our game plan closely with sufficient discipline and spirit."