Here it is, the final day of the season is tomorrow, and the final game is certainly a big one. There may not be much at stake in terms of qualifying for competitions as both Sporting Clube de Portugal and Sporting Clube de Braga are both certain to be playing European football in the Europa League next season, but there is a huge amount of pride at finish third place. Porto ran away with the league, Benfica looked strong but this year Sporting have been miles off the pace and lagging behind the other two. It’s hardly been a “big three” of Portugal this year.
There’s hope of course, Godinho Lopes promised the club €40,000,000 – which apparently recently has become €30,000,000, but either way some much needed investment will be very welcome.
This means that some of the players out there will surely be playing for their futures with the club, as there is an apparently large amount of players who may well be out of their way. The likes of Marat Izmailov (who only recently signed a new contract), Matías Fernández, Rui Patrício, and Daniel Carriço are some of the few who can consider themselves safe from the axe.
Braga of course, are having a season to remember this year. A Possible 3rd place position and a Europa League final ensures that Domingos Paciência has made it a season to remember for Os Arsenalistas. Braga will hope to gain some momentum before Wednesday’s final and give a good send-off to their home fans.
It’s more than likely though that Braga will want to rest players before their game against Porto and so Paciência’s team selection could be very interesting, and perhaps even beneficial to Sporting.
For the most part Sporting have a full strength team to choose from, only the suspensions of João Pereira and Simon Vukčević, as well as Abel’s long term injury are of any concern for José Couceiro.
Staying with Couceiro, it seems certain that this will be his last game in charge of the club. The caretaker manager, who took over in February, has expressed interest in taking over full-time next season, but Domingos Paciência is the man leading the race so far.
It’s a crucial game for Sporting to restore some credibility in a woeful season.
Possible Sporting XI:
Cédric Soares – Ânderson Polga – Daniel Carriço – Evaldo
André Santos – Alberto Zapater
Yannick Djaló – Matías Fernández – Marat Izmailov