Aron Wright - April 11, 2018
Sporting CP vs Atletico Madrid
Europa League Quarterfinal Second Leg
Date: 12th April 2018, Thursday
Kick-off at 20:05 UK/ 21:05 CET
Venue: Estádio José Alvalade (Lisbon).
First half goals from Koke and Antoine Griezmann gave Atletico Madrid a comfortable 2-0 victory in Spain, leaving Sporting CP a mountain to climb to overturn the deficit.
Both teams reached the Europa League knockout phase after finishing third in their respective Champions League group. Atletico have been sublime since, won all 5 matches scoring 13 goals against 2 conceded. They eliminated FC Copenhagen on 5-1 aggregate and Lokomotiv Moscow by 8-1 aggregate. Nine of those goals came on the road, so do both goals conceded.
Sporting had some hiccups on the way Moscow as they were held to 3-3 draw at home by Astana and then fell 2-0 down at Plzen before an extra time goal helped them through to the quarter finals. Moreover, they do not have the composure to guard their ground against strong teams in Europe despite running rout against most of the Portuguese teams in their domestic league.
Atletico Madrid and Sporting CP met for the first time in the 2009/10 Europa League round of 16. Both legs of the tie end in stalemates, but Madrid progresses on away rule after scoring twice in Lisbon with the home leg producing no goals.
With last Thursday’s result, Sporting have now lost 5 on the trot against Spanish teams. Three of those came this season, as they lost a pair to Barcelona in Champions League group phase.
Moreover, Sporting have a poor record against Spanish teams as a whole. They lost 14 of the last 17 duels, drew 2 and won just once. Both stalemates and the win happened at their home turf while losing the 5 of 8.
Meantime, Atletico have a decent record in Portuguese soil having won 3, drawn 2 and lost 2 of their last 7 visits.
Sporting failed to transfer the momentum to Europe despite a superb run in the domestic league. They are coming into the second leg under some pressure having to overturn a 2 goal deficit with no away goals in the bag against one of the best defensive units in the world.
Although we have seen some surprise results in Champions League this mid-week, I believe Atletico are not the kind of team that blow up a healthy lead. I also don’t see them losing here, yet we may see goals at both ends.
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The highly under rated Bas Dost is suspended for the second leg along with experienced full-back Fabio Coentrao.
Sporting boss Jorge Jesus also miss the services of William Carvalho, leaving a huge hole in midfield to fill.
Sporting CP: Predicted Line-up (4-2-3-1)
Rui Patricio – Cesar, Mathieu, Coates, Piccini – Battaglia, Wendel – Ruiz, Fernandes, Martins – Montero.
Atletico Madrid: Team News
Brazilian full-back Filipe Luis is sidelined for Atletico since the team’s 5-1 rout at Lokomotiv Moscow in March.
Jose Gimenez and Sime Vrsaljko are two other players expected to miss here as both are short on fitness.
Atletico Madrid: Predicted Line-up (4-4-2)
Oblak – Hernandez, Godin, Savic, Juanfran – Koke, Niguez, Gabi, Correa – Griezmann, Costa.