Had many Sporting fans gone into the opening weekend of the season against Olhanense with high expectations then although there may have been a dampener on the first day of the season, you could be forgiven for still hoping for the best. Tonight’s dull performance away to Nordsjælland in Denmark may have made many more Sportinguista far less enthusiastic.
It is of course, still early days, this is after all only Domingos Paciência’s second competitive game in charge of the club but from the evidence of tonight there’s still some flaws, if not in the squad, than in the way they play. This out of all the games so far under Paciência, if you include pre-season is by far the worst, even the 0-3 defeat at home to Valencia had more.
In the first half, Jeffrén was arguably the star and was the player most likely to create something. Jeffrén forced Nordsjælland goalkeeper, Jesper Hansen, into a few good saves early on in the match.
Hélder Postiga was again unlucky, with all of his finishes recently being agonisingly close yet still off the target. His chance in the 8th minute was arguably Sporting’s best chance of the half. Nordsjælland themselves failed to create much in the first period managing just one shot on goal.
For the second half Jeffrén was substituted at half time, perhaps with his slight injury after the Olhanense game an issue. On came Marat Izmailov, the goalscorer last weekend but it was more of the same after the break.
Although the Sporting side certainly had more of the possession it could well be a lack of team unity with such a massive overhaul of the squad being the issue. Sporting really failed to make any clear cut chances through-out the fast majority of the second half.
Indeed, the best chance once again came for Hélder Postiga. Postiga was one on one with the keeper at a relatively tight angle but his shot once again went just wide of the post. Some may say that Postiga should have squared the ball to André Santos but there was a few markers floating around him.
In the 60th minute Matías Fernández made a welcome return to action for Sporting after his injury although perhaps still rusty, he was unable to significantly influence the game.
For the last role of the dice interestingly Paciência once again put on Diego Rubio for Hélder Postiga ahead of Ricky van Wolfswinkel, who had still yet to make his official competitive debut for the club.
Nordsjælland became much more of an attacking threat late on in the second half, with youngster Nichlas Rohde perhaps having the best of their chances very late on in the match but failing to make enough contact on the ball.
Although in the end a 0-0 result isn’t exactly a bad result for Sporting, last weekends draw may well put a little bit of pressure on the manager even this early on, with the tedium of the match not helping things. The team will still be confident going into second leg at home but also Nordsjælland may feel they can steal something with an away goal on August 25th.
SPORTING XI: Rui Patrício; João Pereira, Ânderson Polga, Alberto Rodríguez (YC), Evaldo Fabiano; Fabián Rinaudo (YC), André Santos (Matías Fernández 60′); Jeffrén Suárez (Marat Izmailov 46′), Stijn Schaars, Yannick Djaló; Hélder Postiga (Diego Rubio 68′)
Subs Not Used: Marcelo Boeck, Oguchi Onyewu, Diego Capel, Ricky van Wolfswinkel