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Wednesday, 26 February 2014 22:36

"We're here to win" - Mangala

FC Porto and Benfica aim for Europa League progress

europa-league-logo.jpgThe last sixteen of the Europa League is the aim for FC Porto and Benfica, who play Eintracht Frankfurt and PAOK respectively on Thursday night. Porto coach Paulo Fonseca and defender Mangala have defiantly stated the Portuguese champions will bounce back from a series of poor performances and results.

Porto's loss at home to Estoril on Sunday followed the 2-2 draw against Frankfurt in the first leg at the Estádio do Dragão last week, meaning Fonseca's men go into the match in Germany trailing in the tie on away goals. Most people betting on the Europa League may not favour Porto, and the beleaguered boss admits the team's "emotional state is not the best," yet he firmly believes his men can bounce back. "We go into this game with confidence and ambition. Nothing will do but victory. That is all we are thinking about, as is always the case with FC Porto," said Fonseca.

Centre-back Eliaquim Mangala echoed his coach's thoughts, saying "we're going to show we are a great team. Eintracht are in a more comfortable position because of the 1st-leg result, but we want to make progress in the Europa League."

Mexican central defender Diego Reyes gets a rare call-up to the squad given that Abdoulaye is cup-tied having played in the competition earlier this season for Vitória Guimarães. Steven Defour is back in the squad after recovering from a muscle injury.

Jesus cautious ahead of visit of PAOK

Back in Portugal, Benfica have what would appear to be a far easier task. The Eagles welcome PAOK to the Estádio da Luz, having won the first game 1-0 in Greece.

But coach Jorge Jesus is taking nothing for granted. "After the win there people questioned the quality of PAOK. Tomorrow (Thursday) you will see they are not such a weak team. We have to play at the same level we played in Greece to get to the next round," said Jesus.

Benfica will rotate their team heavily again, as they did in the first leg. Four players who started in Monday's win at home to Vitória Guimarães - Oblak, Enzo Peréz, Jardel and Sulejmani - are not included in the squad, while Gaitán and Oscar Cardozo have been called up after several weeks out with injury.

Should both Portuguese clubs make progress it would provide a boost to the country's UEFA rankings in a particularly poor season for Portugal's club sides in European competition. The points accumulated and the position in the table at the end of the season determines how many Portuguese club sides will enter the Champions League and the Europa League in future seasons.

Comments (1)
Porto chances
1 Thursday, 27 February 2014 11:24
I think and hope that Porto will surprise us and win this one. They are a better team than Frankfurt and lets be honest here they could have scored at lot more in the first leg but hit the panic button late in the game. Another factor could be the extra pressure the players must feel when they play at home in a hostile atmosphere of booing, angry and frustrated fans. Their results in Europe this year have actually been better away (1w 1d, 1l) as opposed to the home record which is (0 w 2d 2l)

Benfica will rest the team again and hopefully that will be enough to get a narrow win and progress

Forca Portugal

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