Porto vs. SPORTING Preview

If you’re the kind of person who takes interest in betting odds then you may like to know the odds of a Sporting victory in the Dragão this sunday are about 5/1 (depending on your bookie). Surprisingly large for what is usually a tight match. Or maybe it’s not so surprising? FC Porto are having a season to remember this year, and could well be on course for a treble, with one trophy already secured. They’re still unbeaten in the league – a league they won only last week. They also have one of the hottest managers in European football right now, André Villas Boas. English fans could be forgiven for thinking his real name is André Villas Boas Mourinho, due to the constant talk of the two linked together in the media. Although Boas himself gives more credit to former Sporting and Porto manager, Sir Bobby Robson as an influence.

Porto probably have the best squad in the league too, Hulk, Radamel Falcao, Fernando Belluschi, Rolando… oh and a certain João Moutinho.

On the flip side Porto now have very little to play for in this game, yes it is a big derby match – but it is mostly for them utterly meaningless. Benfica await Porto in the Taça de Portugal on wednesday and so it is likely that Porto will be resting some key players for this game. The Porto players too may will be distracted by that upcoming fixture, and perhaps even the impending Europa League semi-final against Villarreal afterwards.

A good omen for Sporting Clube de Portugal are one of only two clubs to take points off of Porto in this season’s Liga. The (albeit controversial) 1-1 draw in the Alvalade was one of this season’s better performances from Sporting, and it’s something there really hasn’t been enough of this year. In case you were wondering, Vitória de Guimarães were the only other team to take points off Porto this season so far (another 1-1 draw).

The last team to inflict a league defeat on Porto was in fact Sporting. Porto came to Lisbon on February 28th of last year, only to be turned over 3-0 by the Leões. Yannick Djaló, Marat Izmailov, and Miguel Veloso bagged the goals that day.

There is more for this Sporting side to play for too. Porto’s title is won and meanwhile the Leões are only a disappointing 4th in the league currently, trailing behind Braga. You could also say that the cushion of 7 points over Nacional da Madeira could mean that there will be some complacency for Sporting now and until the end of the season. Even so, there is still more of an incentive for Sporting to go for a win than for Porto to do the same. In terms of neutral viewers the Liga is not the place to be right now.

Our players themselves do have something to play for though – their jobs. It is almost certain that the end of the season will mean a massive reconstruction for the club. Players will know that if they want to stay at Sporting they will need to prove their worth until the end of the season – and a game like this is a great stage on which to do so. Perhaps another motivation for those players is to garner interest into a move away from Lisbon, to a club with a Champions League spot (or at least, hopefully away from Lisbon).

If there’s ever a time to ruin the hopes of Porto having an unbeaten season in the league, then this is definitely it.

Prediction: Porto 2-2 SPORTING


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