Europa League Preview: Sporting Lisbon - Atletico Madrid

Posted Friday, March 19, 2010 by Goal.com

Atletico have a mammoth task on their hands.....

Kick-Off: Thursday, March 18, 2010, 21:00 CET.
Jose Alvalade Stadium, Lisbon


Quarter-Final Qualification Beckons

Sporting Lisbon started the season poorly but have picked up momentum and are currently fourth in the Portuguese Liga with 38 points from 23 matches. Moreover, they seem to be going pretty strong in the Europa League as well as they drew 0-0 with Atletco Madrid at the Calderon in the first leg of their last 16 tie last week despite finishing the game with just nine men.

Sporting will certainly be pleased with the result as they know that they have the form and the support of the home crowd to get the better of the Spanish side at home. Atleti are not very good on their travels and the Portuguese giants will be keen to exploit that.

Daunting Prospect

Atletico Madrid do not have to travel far for the second leg as Portugal is just around the corner, but for 'El Pupas' to reach the quarter-finals of the Europe League it will take something special.

The 0-0 scoreline at home last week certainly puts the Madrid side in a fix as they have to score in Lisbon on Thursday evening to have any chance of progression. Although Atleti are masters of achieving the unachievable and do have the firepower to score at will, their defence remains a problem and so is their lack of European pedigree.

FORM GUIDE

Sporting Lisbon

March 14 v Guimaraes (H) - WON 3-1 (Portuguese Liga)

March 11 v Atletico Madrid (A) - DREW 0-0 (Europa League)

March 7 v Belenenses (A) - WON 4-0 (Portuguese Liga)

February 28 v FC Porto (H) - WON 3-0 (Portuguese Liga)

February 25 v Everon (H) - WON 3-0 (Europa League)

Atletico Madrid

March 15 v Osasuna (H) - WON 1-0 (La Liga)

March 11 v Sporting Lisbon (H) - DREW 0-0 (Europa League)

March 7 v Real Zaragoza (A) - DREW 1-1 (La Liga)

February 28 v Valencia (H) - WON 4-1 (La Liga)

February 25 v Galatasaray (A) - WON 2-1 (Europa League)


TEAM NEWS

Sporting Lisbon

Striker Florent Sinama Pongolle is Cup-tied having featured for Atletico Madrid in the Champions League in the group stages. Leandro Damian Grimi and Tonel, both of whom were sent off in the first leg, are suspended. Junior centre-back Nuno Reis is likely to be included in the squad but Daniel Carrico looks to be out.

Probable Line-up (4-5-1): Patricio, Abel, Polga, Reis, Pedro Silva; Pereirinha, Veloso, Moutinho, Izmallov, Mendes; Liedson

Atletico Madrid

Coach Quique Sanchez Flores will have a full-strength side to choose from. Diego Forlan and Sergio Aguero will be the two strikers and will be supported by wide midfielders Jose Antonio Reyes and Simao Sabrosa.

Probable Line-up (4-4-2): De Gea, Ujfalusi, Perea Alvaro Dominguez, Antonio Lopez; Reyes, Raul Garcia, Assuncao, Simao; Forlan, Aguero


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Patricio (Sporting Lisbon)

Atletico Madrid have brilliant firepower and they will try with all their might to score a goal in Lisbon. However, Patricio, who looked good in the first leg, will be a formidable barrier for the Spanish side. His organisation at the back and ability to stay calm even in trying conditions will be major assets for the Portuguese giants on Thursday.

Jose Antonio Reyes (Atletico Madrid)

The former Arsenal and Real Madrid winger has been sensational for Atletico Madrid this season and was arguably Atleti's most creative and imaginative player last weekend. He will again be at the forefront of Atleti's attacks and will be keen to destroy the hosts.


PREDICTION

Sporting will find Atletico Madrid an unpredictable entity and with two of their first choice defenders missing, they could concede a goal. Atletico might be able to stretch the game but they will have to score early in Lisbon to do so.

Sporting Lisbon 1-2 Atletico Madrid



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