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UEFA Champions League Group A preview: Porto host pricey PSG

Paris Saint-Germain’s bid to compete with the elite of European football continues with a trip to face Porto in the Champions League.

Funded by their wealthy Qatari owners, PSG have spent big to bring a host of star names to the Parc de Princes.

Ezequiel Lavezzi, Javier Pastore and Marco Verratti are among the recent arrivals, with Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a double capture from AC Milan, the most audacious acquisitions yet.

Sweden striker Ibrahimovic has already begun to provide a healthy return on the investment, netting nine goals in eight appearances to date this season.

A slow start in Ligue 1 means PSG are three points behind leaders Marseille, but they hit the ground running in Europe, registering a comprehensive 4-1 win at home to Dynamo Kiev on matchday one.

Their next challenge is a trip to Estadio do Dragao, where seasoned European campaigners await in the form of Porto.

Regular participants on the global stage, Porto failed to escape the group stage of the Champions League last term, before bowing out of the Europa League at the hands of Manchester City.

They had won the Europa League in some style the previous season, but have since lost the services of coach Andre Villas-Boas, as well as star forwards Falcao and Hulk.

Vitor Pereira is now in charge of the Liga Sagres title holders, who will rely on the likes of Portugal international midfielder Joao Moutinho and lively Colombia forward James Rodriguez as they seek to advance in the competition.

Porto registered a 2-0 win away to Dinamo Zagreb on matchday one, and will pose the sternest test yet of Carlo Ancelotti’s expensively assembled PSG.

In the other Group A match on Wednesday, Ukrainian powerhouse Dynamo Kiev are at home to Croatian side Dinamo Zagreb.

Kiev are second in the Ukrainian Premier League, six points behind leaders Shakhtar Donetsk after 10 matches of the domestic season.

Retired club favourite Oleg Blokin serves as head coach of both Dynamo and the Ukraine national team, coaching several of his charges at club and international level.

Home-grown talent in the Dynamo squad such as Andriy Yarmolenko, Artem Milevskiy and Denys Harmash are complemented by Croatia playmaker Niko Kranjcar, Nigeria forward Ideye Brown and Portugal midfielder Miguel Veloso.

As for Dinamo Zagreb, the Croatians are seeking to avoid a repeat of the embarrassments they suffered in the competition last term, losing 7-1 at home to Lyon and 6-2 at Real Madrid, ultimately finishing bottom of their group without a point.

Tue 2 October, 2012
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