Porto to face Deportivo in Champions League semis

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> FC Porto and Deportivo de La Coruna will face each other in the first leg of their Champions League semi-finals on Wednesday.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:06 IST
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FC Porto and Deportivo de La Coruna are among the smaller clubs in this season's Champions League but they have hit the big time by reaching the semi-finals. On Wednesday they face each other in the first leg of their last four clash in Portugal. The Dragao Stadium will be the venue on Wednesday as Portugal's Porto host Spanish visitors Deportivo La Coruna in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final tie. Tough route Both teams had to overcome more glamorous and certainly more highly-rated opposition to reach this stage of the competition. Whilst Porto came out on top over two legs against mighty Manchester United of the English Premiership, Deportivo accomplished an even weightier achievement with the sensational elimination of holders AC Milan after going down 4-1 in the first leg of their encounter with the Italians. Tucked down in the southwestern corner of Europe and located just 200 kilometres apart, Porto and Deportivo can't boast any international soccer celebrities or bulging bank accounts. But that hasn't stopped them getting this far and now both clubs will believe they can go all the way to the final and ultimate victory The first-leg encounter on Wednesday at Porto's new stadium, one of the venues for the European Championship in June, hung heavily over last weekend's league games when both teams were held to draws with both coaches resting their top players. Defending Portuguese champions Porto - the only club in the semi-finals to have won the Champions League, in 1987 - need just one more victory to clinch their seventh domestic title in 10 years. They last reached the semi-finals 10 years ago when current coach Jose Mourinho was assistant to Bobby Robson, now at Newcastle. Equal chance On Tuesday, Mourinho, who led Porto to the UEFA Cup last season, gave his assessment of the two legs which lay ahead. "I have the opinion that they have an excellent team with the ability to come here and get a good result, as well as we have an excellent team to go to Coruna and get a good result there and eventually turn around the result of tomorrow's match. I don't believe that tomorrow it will be a game where one team dominates. I don't think there will be a defender or aggressor - it will be a very equal game with a fair result and I believe it will be the same in Coruna," said Porto coach Jose Mourinho on Tuesday. For Lithuanian striker Edgaras Jankauskas, Wednesday's match is definitely something special - he'll be very much hoping to play despite suffering from a sprained ankle. "This is the highest moment in my professional career and I am very happy," said Porto striker Edgaras Jankauskas. Unlike Porto, Deportivo, who are fourth in La Liga, have no European silverware and have never come this far in the competition. No favourites Their coach, Javier Irureta, sees no favourites at this stage. "I believe that the four teams here at the semifinals have the same opportunities. I would say it is twenty five percent for each one winning. I don't feel that we are favourites," said Deportivo coach Javier Irureta Irureta's only doubt is defender Lionel Scaloni who will undergo a late fitness test on a groin strain. He is also concerned about five players who are on two yellow cards - a third on Wednesday would exclude them from the return leg. The Spanish side are hoping that won't happen - they will want to be at full strength when Porto come to visit and they'll be hoping to send them home as disappointed as a shell-shocked AC Milan were after their recent visit to Galicia. But first Deportivo have to make sure they get a good result in Portugal on Wednesday. (AP)