SPORTING vs. Porto Preview

The return of Portuguese league action is back in style as Sporting host Porto at home on Saturday night. Sporting have a huge chance to catch up to first place FC Porto should they manage to beat them in the Alvalade.

The last time the two teams faced was April 17th of last year when Porto won 3-2 in the Dragão. Fortunately, the goal scorers for that day Falcao and Walter have both now left the club with Falcao leaving in the summer and Walter having recently departed on loan to Cruzeiro. Sporting last won this fixture back in 2009/2010 at the Alvalade when Yannick Djaló (a player who has been recently rumoured with a move to Porto), Marat Izmailov and Miguel Veloso all scored in a superb 3-0 victory.

There could be some interesting selections in Domingos Paciência’s team for the forthcoming game judging by the 20-man squad he has to choose from:

Goalkeepers: Rui Patrício, Marcelo Boeck
Defenders: Ânderson Polga, Oguchi Onyewu, Evaldo Fabiano, Santiago Arias, João Pereira, Emiliano Insúa
Midfielders: Diego Capel, André Carrillo, Stijn Schaars, Renato Neto, André Santos, Matías Fernández, Marat Izmailov, André Martins, Elias
Forwards: Valeri Bojinov, Jeffrén Suárez, Ricky van Wolfswinkel

Interesting to note Renato Neto’s inclusion after he returned from his loan spell with Cercle Brugge and began training with the first team before Christmas. His earlier integration with the team is probably why his name is there ahead of new arrivals Xandão and Sebastián Ribas.

Jeffrén Suárez is included in the squad for the first time since he had yet another injury. The Spanish attacker has had rotten luck so far this season and has still played 4 games for Sporting (that’s less than Hélder Postiga and Yannick Djaló played in August). Marat Izmailov and Matías Fernández also continue to recover from their injuries.

It gives Domingos some selection headache with how to set up his team especially after the disappointing performance in the recent 1-1 Taça da Liga draw with Rio Ave.

Indeed, there may be the unfortunate call to return Rui Patrício to the starting eleven in spite of the heroics of Marcelo Boeck against Rio Ave.

It’s perhaps Sporting’s most important game of the year thus far. Should they lose they will then fall 9 points behind Porto and it will make it incredibly hard to recoup those points in the remaining months.

Possible SPORTING XI:

Rui Patrício

João Pereira – Oguchi Onyewu – Ânderson Polga – Emiliano Insúa

André Santos – Stijn Schaars – Elias

Diego Capel – Ricky van Wolfswinkel – André Carrillo

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