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May, 17, 2011

We can beat Porto, says Paciencia

Braga coach Domingos Paciencia admits that Porto are the favourites to win Wednesday's Europa League final but insists his team can upset the odds and beat the Portuguese champions.

• Preview: A final full of contrasts

Both sides are now in Dublin ahead of the first all-Portuguese Europa League final and Paciencia is plotting one more giant-killing feat before he leaves Braga, probably to join Sporting Lisbon, in the summer. But it will be no easy task as Andre Villas-Boas' Porto have already won the Portuguese Cup and the Portuguese Liga to secure their return to the Champions League next season.

Braga are 7-1 outsiders to win Europe's second club competition at the Aviva Stadium on Wednesday night, but Paciencia maintains the club can bring an end to the favourites' stellar season and win his club their first silverware since 1966.

"Porto have always had a very strong team, and right now Porto are a team that could do well in the Champions League. They are a Champions League club," said Paciencia. "In a final, and given how the season has gone, it's natural that Porto are big favourites. But it's a final - it's just one match.

"With the right inspiration and motivation, many situations can occur in a match that can get you a goal. That is what makes us believe it's possible to win."

Braga finished 38 points behind Villas-Boas' all-conquering outfit and they warmed up for Wednesday's game with a disappointing home defeat to Sporting Lisbon in their final league match of the season on Saturday.

They have saved their best form for the continent this term, though, overcoming Sevilla and Celtic in the Champions League play-offs to make the group stages where Arsenal edged them out in the running for a place in the knockout phase.

Since dropping into the Europa League they have beaten Liverpool, Dynamo Kiev and last year's Portuguese champions Benfica to reach the final, giving former Porto striker Paciencia reason for optimism ahead of the final in the Irish capital.

"All matches are a great motivation, particularly against great teams," Paciencia added. "When you face a Liverpool, a Dynamo Kiev, even the champions of Poland, Lech, those are big names, and automatically the players gain motivation. I also think the players' capacity for hard work and their daily efforts are reflected in where they are now."

Paciencia has crossed paths with opposite number Andre Villas-Boas before, when playing at Porto. Villas-Boas wrote a letter of support to then-Porto boss Bobby Robson and Paciencia has not forgotten his impact.

''Andre talked to me on many occasions and we worked together on many occasions,'' he said. ''This happened when I was part of Robson's team and I was selected, and was chosen, and was proud to know that Andre liked my style.

''Most of all, a coach has to play with the right players, have the right president and with the right moments. Football is really influenced by those moments. Andre, as a young coach was not very experienced but he had all the right qualities.''

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