Champions League quarter-final second leg (first leg 2-2)
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes his defending European champions can do what no other English team have done and secure victory at the Estadio do Dragao.
The Manchester United manager cited his team’s 3-2 win at Juventus in the 1999 Champions League semi-finals as he assessed the advantage Porto gained from the 2-2 first-leg draw at Old Trafford.
“We were disappointed in losing the last-minute goal [by Mariano] in the last game,” said Ferguson. “That has given a definite edge to Porto but we are capable of turning that around. It is not as if we are going here without a big chance. We have to remember the places we have been in the past, like Juventus, when we drew at home and won away.”
While United “have a big job to do” against opponents undefeated in eleven previous home meetings with opponents from England, Ferguson added that he trusted his players to deliver based on “their performances over the last two or three years in big games in Europe – in Rome, in Milan, in Barcelona”.
Nonetheless, despite their 22-game unbeaten run in the Champions League, they have won just once on their travels this season and went down 2-1 here en route to elimination by Porto in the last 16 in 2004.
The United manager has Rio Ferdinand back to bolster his recently shaky back line.
“Obviously the experience and the quality he has in his game makes a difference when he is in the team,” he said. “The partnership of Ferdinand and [Nemanja] Vidic has been a cornerstone of our great defensive performances this season.”
Ryan Giggs should also feature after sitting out Saturday’s 2-1 win at Sunderland but Darren Fletcher misses out with a hamstring injury.
Porto coach Jesualdo Ferreira, who serves a one-game suspension tonight, was happy to praise United.
“We’re going to play the best team in Europe and the world and which has the best player in the world,” he said. “I said before the game in Manchester that we were very confident and wanted to produce a good performance. We have the same level of confidence a week later.”
The Portuguese outfit attacked United with a spirit of adventure rarely shown by visitors to Old Trafford and Ferreira promised more of the same.
“We don’t know how to play in a different way,” he said. “This team can never change its identity.”
For Porto, Argentinian forward Ernesto Farias is expected to drop to the bench despite scoring twice in the 3-0 weekend victory over Estrela da Amadora, with the home side likely to start with the same side that performed so well at Old Trafford.