FC Porto v Shakhtar preview

Pereira will make his debut in Europe’s premier club competition

after taking over from Andre Villas-Boas following his summer move

to Chelsea. Pereira knows he has a tough task to follow after Porto

won the Europa League and were crowned Portuguese champions by a

massive 21-point margin under Villas-Boas. The new manager has made

a bright start domestically, Porto have won all four games so far,

but he will also carry the weight of expectation in Europe after

the club’s exploits last term. But rather than feeling weighed down

by the glories of Villas-Boas, Pereira believes the club are well

placed to build on his success and advance deep into the Champions

League. On the face of it they should qualify, with Tuesday night’s

visitors Shakhtar looming as their most dangerous rivals in a Group

G which is completed by Zenit St Petersburg and Cypriots APOEL.

“After a very successful season in the Europa League we now have a

new challenge in a stronger competition,” Pereira said. “What we

have done in the past will mean nothing if we do not continue to

build on what we’ve done. “We are growing as a team and we will

continue to be aggressive and believe strongly in what we are doing

and the quality of our players. “Despite the difficulty of the

opponents that we will face we believe we can honour the past

success of this team. “We are clearly on the rise in terms of the

quality of our play and we are confident that we can move on and

get to the next phase.” Shakhtar captain Darijo Srna expects the

visit to the Estadio Dragao to present one of the most difficult

challenges of the group stage. The Croatia full-back admitted he

had been impressed by Porto in the European Super Cup, despite

their 2-0 defeat to Barcelona, and thinks they remain strong

despite Villas-Boas’ departure. “They played only a few matches

without Villas-Boas,” he told the club’s website www.shakhtar.com.

“The only key player who left the team, was Falcao. They are still

playing the same way because Pereira was Villas-Boas’ assistant

coach. “Tuesday’s game will be a difficult as well as fascinating

match.” He added: “The Super Cup provided us with a lot of

information. Porto have both strengths and weaknesses that we must

exploit. Like I said, it will be a difficult game, but we will do

our best.” Porto are likely to be without key men Fredy Guarin,

Rolando and Cristian Sapunaru due to injury, while Hulk may be a

doubt after Porto reportedly fielded a £57million bid from

Anzhi Makhachkala.