Faced with the daunting challenge of Manchester City FC in the last 32, Vítor Pereira says his FC Porto players can overcome the English league leaders if they produce their best form.
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Vítor Pereira took on the unenviable task of replacing treble-winning André Villas-Boas at the FC Porto helm last summer so knows a tough test when he sees one – such as retaining the European crown masterminded by his predecessor in 2010/11.
First up for the title holders, who return to the UEFA Europa League after an autumn campaign in the UEFA Champions League, are Manchester City FC in Thursday's round of 32 first leg in Portugal. "Everyone knows Man City, they're the Premier League leaders and need no introduction," said Pereira. "We want to give a great performance, we want to have our fans behind us. Our fans want good things from us and we always try to please them.
"It's always good to have that support as there's no better stadium to play at than our own," continued the 43-year-old. "I want to concentrate on our strengths, though, because I think if we do our best and we play our game we'll be able to go through. We expect to be inspired tomorrow. Our intention is to keep the ball, it's our style and it's what we'll try to do."
Midfielder João Moutinho, meanwhile, stressed his colleagues' desire to prove they can still mix it with Europe's elite. "It's a very difficult draw, against the Premier League leaders," said the Portuguese international. "Yes, they have great individuals, but it's on the pitch we'll have to prove who's best. Porto always want to win their competitions. Last year we were able to win the Europa League, and we want to win it this year too."
Despite setting out this season with hopes of going all the way in the UEFA Champions League, City boss Roberto Mancini is now focused on the UEFA Europa League. He is determined to add to the Mancunians' European Cup Winners' Cup triumph of 1970, the club's only continental prize. "Our concentration is on the Europa," said Mancini. "It is a long time since Manchester City won a trophy in Europe but last season we won the FA Cup after a long time.
"We're playing Porto, a team used to playing in the Champions League – it's going to be very difficult here. Usually it's better to play the first game away but in this instance that doesn't apply because both matches will be unpredictable. Porto have very good players, their wingers are very quick, they defend well – they're certainly one of the best teams in Europe."