Porto v Shakhtar preview
Europa League winners Porto start with a home game against Shakhtar Donetsk as they make the step back up to the Champions League.
Last Updated: 13/09/11 10:50am
Europa League winners Porto start with a home game against the dangerous Shakhtar Donetsk as they make the step back up to the UEFA Champions League.
The Portuguese side had to settle for a place in Europe's secondary club competition last term but made the most of their adventure with a hugely impressive victory.
Porto have since been victims of their own success to some extent, with Andre Villas-Boas leaving to take charge of Chelsea and star striker Radamel Falcao moving to Atletico Madrid.
Barcelona also provided a lesson in what it takes to triumph at this level with a 2-0 win over Porto in the Super Cup last month, although new boss Vitor Pereira will be confident his side can progress from a group that also contains APOEL and Zenit St Petersburg.
Porto have maintained their fantastic domestic form at the start of the season and Pereira will be able to field a strong XI, even if there are a couple of key players missing.
Rolando and Fredy Guarin are suspended after being sent off against Barcelona, while Emidio Rafael has been left out of the squad for the group phase due to a broken leg.
Alvaro Pereira has been struggling with a leg injury and is racing to recover in time, while Silvestre Varela has been recalled to the squad after missing out against Vitoria Setubal in the Portuguese league on Friday.
Shakhtar have developed a reputation as one of Europe's trickiest opponents and, while they are most feared on home soil, they will not be underestimated by Porto.
Having reached the quarter-finals last season, when they were knocked out by eventual winners Barcelona, Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu has again set his sights on getting out of the group.
"The main objective is to get through to the next phase, because at the moment my team are not ready to win the Champions League," he said.
Shakhtar won the Ukrainian title last season and are top of their domestic standings once again after nine games, with a number of key players set to return to the fold for the trip to Portugal
Oleksandr Kucher, Vyacheslav Shevchuk and Darijo Srna were all rested on Friday after returning from international duty with knocks but are expected to be available, while striker Yevhen Seleznyov is also set to play after recovering from a head injury.