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Grasshoppers prepare for the big one

The pressure will be on for Grasshoppers coach Hans-Peter Zaugg

(Keystone)

Swiss football champions Grasshoppers Zurich will be bidding for a place in Europe's biggest club competition on Wednesday when they take on Portuguese side FC Porto in the second leg of their Champions League qualifying tie.

After drawing 2-2 in Portugal two weeks ago, Grasshoppers have every reason to be confident of their chances going into the home leg, although Saturday's unexpected league defeat to Lausanne Sports should help overcome any complacency in the Zurich camp.

Lucrative

A win on Wednesday or even a low-scoring draw (0-0 or 1-1) would be enough to see Grasshoppers back in the Champions League after a five-year absence. A place in the competition's opening group stage is reckoned to be worth at least SFr 10 million, since the league format guarantees clubs a minimum of six lucrative matches.

As former European champions, Porto will be just as keen to get back among the continent's elite. After their disappointing home performance against Grasshoppers, the Portuguese giants now seem to have found their rhythm after trouncing local rivals Boavista 4-1 on Sunday.

Chapuisat doubtful

Porto are still unable to field their injured goalkeeper Vitor Baia while Grasshoppers are likely to be without veteran striker Stéphane Chapuisat who is still recovering from an ankle injury. Midfielder Ricardo Cabanas could make a long-awaited return to the substitutes' bench following a cruciate ligament operation.

Probable teams:

Grasshoppers: Jehle; Schwegler, Castillo, Smiljanic, Berner; Papa Bouba, Taratache, Spycher; Morales, Petric, Nunez.

FC Porto: Ovchinnikov; Ibarra, Jorge Costa, Jorge Andrade, Mario Silva; Paredes, Södström, Capuch, Deco; Clayton, Pena.

swissinfo with agencies


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