Sporting Clube de Portugal and Lazio will meet for the very first time in UEFA competition on Thursday as Lazio travel to Alvalade. It will be the second match day in the UEFA Europa League after Sporting’s 2-0 victory away FC Zürich to last time out.
Lazio are arguably the closest competition to Sporting in regards to finishing top of the group but the team from Rome could only manage a 2-2 draw at home to the group’s lowest ranked team, FC Vaslui. A Djibril Cissé penalty gave Lazio the lead before Vaslui pegged them back to 2-1 down until Giuseppe Sculli equalised for the Italian team.
Lazio coach Edy Reja, who almost quite the club last week before his letter of resignation was refused, has seen his side struggle this September with just one win their last five games. The September slump is a symptom that happens to Edy Reja’s sides frequently. Lazio will be fired up for the game though, knowing that they must picked up a win after their disappointing draw with FC Vaslui.
For Lazio players Matuzalém and striker Miroslav Klose, who knows what it’s like to score in the Alvalade, are unlikely to play with injuries but travel with the side.
Sporting’s form at the moment is good with four wins in a row and could complete a fifth in a row with a victory over Lazio, it will be the first time since January 2010 that Sporting have produced such good form.
Alberto Rodríguez is a major doubt after having been substituted off with injury in the last game against Vitória de Setúbal. Meaning Ânderson Polga or perhaps even Daniel Carriço could partner Oguchi Onyewu in defence.
Jeffrén Suárez is still a doubt, the Spanish attacker had been penciled in as a return for this game but it seems unlikely that he will begin the game after such a long time out with injury. André Carrillo who impressed against Setúbal could be in line to make a start again. Elias will of course miss out as he is cup-tied so Matías Fernández or André Santos could return to the team.
Another victory for Sporting would have the Verde e Brancos top of the table with 6 points and in an excellent position to go on and qualify with the group stages.
Possible SPORTING XI:
João Pereira – Oguchi Onyewu – Ânderson Polga – Emiliano Insúa
Fabián Rinaudo – Stijn Schaars
André Carrillo – Matías Fernández – Diego Capel
Ricky Van Wolfswinkel