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Respect but no fear

Porto ready to tackle ‘tough challenge'

FC Porto are perfectly well aware of FC Bayern’s great success in recent years. “We’re talking about one of the best Bayern teams in the history of the club,” declared coach Julen Lopetegui at Tuesday afternoon’s pre-match press conference ahead of the Champions League quarter-final first leg tie, “we’ve got great respect for Bayern.”

Respect indeed, but no fear. The team lying second in the Portuguese top flight have gained a huge amount of confidence in the past few months: Porto are unbeaten in the Champions League this season. “We don’t stand a chance against Bayern? Why not? We’re in with a shout and a good one at that,” declared Dutch defender Bruno Martins Indi.

FC Porto are looking to give as good as they get, even if it is against one of the best teams in Europe. It will be a “tough challenge” according to Lopetegui, “but we intend to come out on top.” The aim will be to prevent Bayern dominating possession. “And when we’ve got the ball we need to make the best use of it.”

Jackson Martínez in the squad

Porto are clearly in better shape than Bayern in terms of personnel even though the loss of winger Christian Tello (leg) does hurt. Star striker Jackson Martínez, the top goalscorer in Portugal with 17 goals plus five in the Champions League this term, appears to be fit again after recovering from a groin injury. Lopetegui said Martínez would be in the squad at least.

“He’s not just important because of his goals. Jackson can hold the ball up well, his distribution is good and he’s crucial as an outlet,” said the coach. In addition to Martínez, FC Porto also pose a threat up front through the Algerian Yacine Brahimi, while stalwart Ricardo Quaresma cannot be taken for granted either. FC Bayern are the favourites in this quarter-final clash but Porto are waiting to spring a surprise. “It’s a great opportunity for me and my team-mates,” said midfielder Hector Herrera.