Jesualdo Ferreira is confident his Porto side can open their latest Champions League campaign with a victory against Fenerbahce.
The 2004 European champions are in the group stage for the sixth successive season yet have begun none of those campaigns with a win, but. Ferreira refuses to read too much into the statistics.
“I can only talk about the two years I’ve been here, in which we did everything to win but haven’t managed it,” he said. “We hope that’s going to change. The team has already been picked, they are well-prepared and they understand the responsibility they have.”
A free weekend in the Liga combined with the international break, has left Porto without a first-team fixture since the 1-1 draw at Benfica on 30 August.
“The break has been both good and bad,” said Ferreira. “It’s always difficult to build up a rhythm in this situation but we also have to protect the players, particularly those from clubs taking part in the Champions League and UEFA Cup.”
Ferreira believes tonight’s opponents must be treated with caution despite their poor start to the Super Lig season.
“We can’t judge them on their last few results. We know what they did last year in the Champions League. They have a strong team, with good players who are used to winning in high-level competitions,” he said.
“They have greater means than us,” he admitted. “For example, they have the top scorer (Daniel Guiza) in last season’s Spanish league.”
Fenerbahce have Euro 2008-winning coach Luis Aragonés at the helm, yet two surprising away defeats in the first three games of their domestic campaign have brought his honeymoon period to a swift conclusion.
“We could have started better, but we have time on our side in the league,” Aragonés said. “We’ll see where we are in May. I have the experience not to worry too much.”
The former Atletico Madrid boss argues that domestic travails will have no bearing on tonight’s game, saying: “You cannot compare the league with the Champions League. They’re two completely different competitions. We respect Porto a lot, but I’m worrying more about my own team than them. It’s important to go on to the pitch concentrated on what we want to achieve.”