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Sport Siege mentality for Porto as they take aim at Chelsea's spending

02:01  07 april  2021
02:01  07 april  2021 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

Chelsea v Porto: Seville to host both legs of Champions League tie

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Thomas Tuchel, Sergio Conceicao, Pepe looking at the camera: MailOnline logo © Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo

Completely unprovoked, the conversation took an expected diversion in Porto on Tuesday. 'Chelsea have a value of around £700million but money doesn't play,' exclaimed Pepe rather out of the blue.

As we know, Pepe — a three-time Champions League winner with Real Madrid — is a master of the dark arts, but even for him this was slightly out of the ordinary.

Next, his manager Sergio Conceicao, again unprompted, was on the front foot about cash — or rather Porto's lack of it.

Pepe wearing a football uniform: Porto's Pepe brought up Chelsea's superior spending habits ahead of Champions League tie © Provided by Daily Mail Porto's Pepe brought up Chelsea's superior spending habits ahead of Champions League tie Sergio Conceicao sitting in front of a computer screen: Porto manager Sergio Conceicao was also quick to bring up cash in the build up © Provided by Daily Mail Porto manager Sergio Conceicao was also quick to bring up cash in the build up

'When we go to the field we are not thinking we have spent £25m and Chelsea £250m in the market,' he said.

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Moments later, Conceicao was at it once more: 'We won't be thinking that our most expensive player is £8m and Chelsea's is something else. When we take the field it is 11 versus 11,' said the Porto boss. No prizes for guessing how Porto are motivating themselves for tonight's Champions League quarter-final.

Of course, the occasion and the prospect of a semi-final spot in European football's elite club competition should be inspiration enough. But whatever works for you.

Not that Chelsea were remotely buying into the rather contrived narrative emanating out of Portugal.

a group of people playing football on a field: Chelsea decided not to bite despite their summer spending on player such as Kai Havertz © Provided by Daily Mail Chelsea decided not to bite despite their summer spending on player such as Kai Havertz

'No, money will not give you advantage, for sure,' said Blues midfielder Mateo Kovacic, a former team-mate of Pepe before swapping Madrid for London in a £40 m deal. 'The advantage we need is on the pitch because Porto is a tough opponent. It is nothing to do with budget.'

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  Conceicao says Chelsea are 'awake to danger' after West Brom misery Conceicao has warned his Porto players to be wary of the wounded Blues, who succumbed to a first loss under new manager Thomas Tuchel in the Premier League on Saturday. 'You know that Thiago Silva was sent off in the first half and that the game had a different course,' said Conceicao. © Provided by Daily Mail Porto boss Sergio Conceicao is expecting a vicious Chelsea response after their recent loss 'Chelsea until this last game had been extremely competent, they have not lost a game in the Champions League, they have the second-best defence in the Champions League and also in the English League.

It is perhaps understandable that Porto have tried to conjure a phoney war to stoke the fire ahead of their encounter. They are major underdogs.

At one stage Pepe was even asked by a local journalist how he felt about Chelsea players celebrating drawing Porto in last month's draw.

Did they? The accusation certainly came as a surprise to Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel. 'In the Champions League, we wouldn't celebrate any draw. We respect every team,' said the German.

'We come from a competition in which we are able to lose against the team 19th in the table 5-2 (West Bromwich). So we know how humbly we have to approach every game.

'In the quarter-finals of the Champions League, if you wish for an opponent you will lose yourself in crazy mind games.'

Kovacic agreed, saying: 'It's strange to hear that from Pepe because I played with him for three years. I don't know what he means or if he actually said it. But of course not, we didn't celebrate.

Tops / Flops Porto-Chelsea: The pretty blow of mount, the insufficiency of Marega

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Thomas Tuchel standing on a baseball field: The accusation certainly came as a surprise to Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel © Provided by Daily Mail The accusation certainly came as a surprise to Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel

'Me? I didn't celebrate because when I played before with Real Madrid I know that in these stages there are no lucky opponents or bad opponents.'

There appears little danger of Chelsea becoming complacent ahead of tonight's first leg in Seville.

And if there was any lingering feeling of underestimation, Saturday's harrowing loss to Premier League relegation candidates West Brom would have acted as a reality check.

As would have Sunday's training confrontation between Antonio Rudiger and Kepa Arrizabalaga — who were both unused substitutes in the loss.

Life can change rapidly when you're a football manager. From 14 games unbeaten to his first defeat as Chelsea head coach, to separating two players after an angry clash — Tuchel has found out the hard way quite how quickly things can change.

On the bust-up, Tuchel explained: 'I don't want to play it down with anything artificial. These are things we don't want to accept, but they can happen.

'They are all competitors and want to win. The reaction was not OK. But the reaction to it, how the guys handled the situation, especially Toni and Kepa, was amazing and showed how much respect they have for each other.

'They cleared the air immediately. That showed me they have very good character. Toni sorted it out directly, and it was a strong and brave thing to do.'

Tuchel will be hoping the weekend's events are not a sign of things to come tonight as he heads into the biggest game of his Chelsea tenure.

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