LISBON - Porto and Braga are almost neighbours but their heritage and playing styles are so different that Wednesday's first all-Portuguese Europa League final is expected to be a clash of contrasts.
Coach Andre Villas Boas has built a vintage Porto side, marrying a fluid and rampant attack with a hard-working midfield and a solid defence to lift the domestic title and reach a European final in his first season at the club.
"We hope to have a beautiful end to the season. We may end up paying for our style, of wanting the ball and creating chances but we will not change," the 33-year-old coach said ahead of the final in Dublin.
"We would rather die than give up our style of play. Finals are to be well played, not to be boring."
The front pairing of prolific Colombia striker Falcao, who has scored a record 16 goals in a single Europa League season, and burly Brazilian Hulk means the side is seldom dull to watch.
Based a mere 50 kilometres north of Porto, Domingos' Braga were the surprise package in the competition as they relied on their clinical counter attacking style to reach the final.
"We know we have reached a final when no one could see us doing so. We ended up using that as a weapon," said Domingos, who will be leaving the club after Wednesday's showdown.
Their other weapons have been a solid defence built around strong South Americans and fast Portuguese players, pinpoint passing by midfielder Hugo Viana and efficient finishing by Brazilian forwards Lima and Alan.
Their remarkable European journey started when they beat Celtic and Sevilla to reach their first Champions League group stage, where they recovered from a thrashing by Arsenal to post three respectable wins.
They dropped into the Europa League and knocked out former European champions Liverpool and Benfica with gritty, stubborn performances against more attacking teams.
"We know perfectly well that our opponent is a tough one. But we have proven in the past that we are able to win regardless of who we play against," Domingos said.
As a former lethal striker at Porto, for whom he scored over 100 goals, Domingos will be all too aware of the difference in the two clubs' international achievements.
While Braga will play their maiden European final in Dublin, Porto have a rich pedigree with two European Cups, a UEFA Cup, an European Supercup and two world club titles in their trophy room already.
"History doesn't count here. These are 90 minutes on their own and old players like (former Porto keeper) Vitor Baia won't be playing. History is in the past, it's us now," Falcao said.
"We should not underestimate Braga, we cannot underestimate a team that has reached a final."
Porto: Helton; Cristian Sapunaru, Rolando, Maicon, Alvaro Pereira; Fredy Guarin, Fernando, Joao Moutinho; Hulk, Falcao, Silvestre Varela.
Braga: Artur Moraes; Miguel Garcia, Alberto Rodriguez, Paulao, Silvio; Alan, Vandinho, Custodio, Hugo Viana; Lima, Meyong.comments