With Dynamo Kyiv second in Group G on five points, a home victory against the Portuguese champions would take Dynamo five points clear of Jesualdo Ferreira’s men – and closer to the knockout stages for the first time in a decade.
However, coach Yuri Semin is reluctant to get too excited until a top-two finish is secured.
“We will just stick to our usual method – giving full attention to our next fixture and to our own game,” he said. “If we play well, we will get points. If we play badly, we won’t and we won’t qualify for anything.”
Semin’s caution may have something to do with his injury concerns. Midfielder Ayila Yussuf is a long-time absentee with a serious thigh injury while centre-back Malkhaz Asatiani and midfielder Milos Ninkovc are both doubtful.
Semin has guided his team to the top their Premier League table and they have adapted well to European competition too.
“The lads have grown in confidence,” said the former Lokomotiv Moscow and Russia coach. “They have top-class match experience now. We have several players who had never played in the Champions League before.”
“One of Porto’s strongest points is their experience. They won the [2003/04] Champions League and [2002/03] UEFA Cup and they are always champions of their country, but if we use our trumps wisely and play at our best, we will be able to expose their weak spots.”
Porto coach Ferreira is eager to make a break with the past.
“History means nothing in football,” he said. “Who cares now that Porto won the Champions League a few years ago? All that matters is what happens here. We came here with a clear understanding that we have no other choice but to win this game, and I believe we have the ability to do that.”
Ferreira will be without goalkeeper Helton and defender Nelson Benitez, yet argues that his players can thrive in adversity.
“It often happens that negative factors compel players to perform above their normal level,” he said. “We were unlucky to lose three games in a row and that is why I hope the team will be totally committed. My players deserve my trust. Those defeats have not shaken me and nothing will be able to unsettle my team.”