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Porto trophy hunt no pipe dream

Saturday 24 November 2012 16.14 CET
Lucho González (FC Porto)

Not even a team already qualified for the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds likes to look too confident before the end of the group stage, but FC Porto's ambition was impossible to hide as their players spoke to the media after Wednesday's 3-0 win against GNK Dinamo Zagreb.

The words of captain Lucho González, enjoying a very successful second spell in northern Portugal, were a case in point. The 31-year-old speaks as he plays, with understated elegance and grace and without boastfulness. Yet he talked of his hopes of taking Porto all the way to Wembley for the final. "Hopefully we can be champions," he said. "We're working with the aim of winning at national and international level."

Porto may not have the household names of FC Barcelona or Chelsea FC, but Lucho's dream is not as fanciful as it may at first appear. Though they need a point on matchday six at Paris Saint-Germain FC to confirm first place in Group A, the Dragons are already leading the way in this season's competition, with the highest point haul so far – 13. A win in the French capital would match the club record of 16, set by António Oliveira's side in 1996/97.

Despite the loss of the talismanic Hulk, Porto's squad looks stronger than ever. Moments before João Moutinho scored a stunning free-kick for the second goal against Dinamo, coach Vítor Pereira sent on Brazil's Alex Sandro and defensive midfielder Fernando – known as 'The Octopus' in these parts for his ability to provide cover all across the defence. Pereira couldn't have underlined the strength in depth available to him any more clearly.

Steven Defour told journalists afterwards that he expected a battle to keep his place in light of Fernando's return. The Belgian international also emphasised that Porto are going to Paris "to win". The club's winning culture is legendary, and today everybody in the Estádio do Dragão dressing room is completely confident in the quality around them.

The opinions expressed here are the writer's own and not those of UEFA.

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