Ryan Porteous: European football is an education but Hibs have nothing to fear

Learning how to deal with the obvious differences between European football and the Scottish game is an ongoing education but, according to Ryan Porteous, one thing Hibs have realised is that they have the ability to get through to the Conference League play-offs.

They head to Croatia on the back of a 1-1 draw with Rijeka at Easter Road but they travel in the knowledge that they could have been at least a couple of goals better off and they will be buoyed by the fact their own experience plus some positive history proves that overcoming them on their own patch is possible.

Aberdeen proved that back in 2015 and, having out-performed them for big chunks of Thursday night’s first leg, the Hibs defender understands why observers believe the Leith side can do the same and book a next round contest with either Bohemians of Ireland or PAOK of Greece.

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“I can see why. They are a good team but they’re nothing we should fear. I don’t think they’re any better than Celtic and Rangers are and I think we would fancy ourselves against them at Easter Road, or even away from home.

Hibs' Ryan Porteous in action during the Conference League qualifying tie against Rijeka. Photo by Craig Foy / SNS GroupHibs' Ryan Porteous in action during the Conference League qualifying tie against Rijeka. Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group
Hibs' Ryan Porteous in action during the Conference League qualifying tie against Rijeka. Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group

“We are disappointed not to go away with a lead but from what we have seen and the way we have played we will go over with a lot of belief.

“I thought it was a good performance. It was one of those where if it was a league game we would have been disappointed not to have walked away two, three, four-one up.

“The goal we lost was disappointing, defending our back post again and not stopping the cross but listen, we can only take the positives from it.

“We dominated the game in large parts so we will go over there with confidence and the belief that we can win the tie. They are a good team but I see nothing in them to frighten us really.”

Shrugging off the inferiority complex that often dogs Scottish sides competing on the foreign stage, Porteous says it is about maturing and waking up to the often-nuanced differences between the domestic style of play and the European sensitivities.

Many, like the Scotland Under-21 centre-half, have had preliminary taster sessions while on international duty but the others are learning on the job.

“Yeah, I have learned a lot from international football playing against Croatian teams and stuff, so you know what to expect from the players, you know what to expect from the foreign referees.

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“I have learned about how you speak to foreign refs and what you claim for.

“It is just a different way the game is played, it is not right or wrong. But it is good to learn and develop from these kind of games.”

The European matches are reward for last season’s efforts and having put so much into getting themselves into the mix, Porteous says no one is ready to call halt on the adventure when they are so close to the league stages and the guarantee of Conference League football into December.

“No-one really needed the pre-season because we were all flying from day one, ready for the European games and ready for the league games. It is a group that is ready to go.”

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