SCP-OLY Preview: Third Place On The Line In Lisbon
UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE - GROUP D (MATCHDAY 5)
|Sporting Lisbon||2:45 PM (EST)||Olympiacos|
AGONAsport's George Tsitsonis brings you a full preview for Olympiacos' UEFA Champions League Matchday 5 fixture against Sporting Lisbon.
Even though they still may harbor only outside chances of finishing third in this group, Olympiacos’ draw with Barcelona now sees the Greek champions with a glimmer of hope for their Matchday 5 clash with Sporting Lisbon. The match represents one final chance for the Erythrolefki to make their impact felt in this year’s European campaign.
Surely, Sporting are the favorites ahead of Wednesday’s match, but Olympiacos are at least showing increased fight in Europe since Takis Lemonis took over. Many fans have yet to recover from the Matchday 1 beat down that Sporting delivered to the team. In that match, the Portuguese side were up 3-0 at halftime, a scoreline that flattered the home team and could have easily been doubled. Two late goals by Felipe Pardo helped add respectability to the scoreline. Since then, Sporting have managed only a draw against Juventus. The fact that they are on four points means that an Olympiacos win (by two goals or one-goal win by more than 3-2) could give them a tiebreak over their opponents.
In the league, Olympiacos are showing signs of a resurgence as they have trimmed a lead that was once at five by AEK down to just one. Sporting meanwhile are still undefeated in the Portugal Primeira Liga, but a few draws have dropped them to second place on 27 points, four behind leaders Porto.
Jorge Jesus will have to make some adjustments on the left side of the pitch for this match. Winger Marcos Acuna will miss out the Olympiacos match due to a muscle strain. Left-back Jonathan Silva is also unavailable due to a knee injury.
Lemonis does have some headaches, specifically in attack. Emanuel Emenike, Uros Djurdjevic, and Ben Nabouhane have all recently been injured or out-of-form. Karim Ansarifard played well at the weekend, but missed a plethora of chances. The Greek coach may opt to go for a false-nine with perhaps Kostas Fortounis reprising his role against Barcelona. Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe’s inclusion will be a game-time decision. The Belgian midfielder still recovering from his home being burglarized last week.
Sporting Lisbon: Patricio, Pinto, Coates, Ristovski, Coentrao, Cesar, Battaglia, Fernandes, Martins, Podence, Dost
Olympiacos: Proto, Eladbellaoui, Botia, Cisse, Koutris, Gillet, Romao, Tachtsidis, Marin, Carcela, Fortounis
Sporting Lisbon WDDWW
11/16/17 Sporting CP-Famalicao 2-0 (Portuguese Cup)
11/5/17 Sporting CP-Sporting Braga 2-2 (Portuguese Primeira Liga)
10/31/17 Sporting CP-Juventus 1-1 (UEFA Champions’ League)
10/27/17 Rio Ave-Sporting CP 0-1 (Portuguese Primeira Liga)
10/22/17 Sporting CP-Chaves 5-1 (Portuguese Primeira Liga)
11/18/17 Olympiacos-Levadiakos 2-1 (Greek Super League)
11/5/17 Olympiacos-Platanias 5-1 (Greek Super League)
10/31/17 Olympiacos-Barcelona 0-0 (UEFA Champions’ League)
10/28/17 Panathinaikos-Olympiacos 1-0 (Greek Super League)
10/25/17 Acharnaikos-Olympiacos 0-3 (Greek Cup)
Matchday 1 was the first official meeting between the clubs in their respective histories. Sporting came out of the gates in a blistering start that saw them take a 3-0 halftime lead. The match ultimately finished 3-2, but a Felipe Pardo brace was in the dying minutes and Sporting were comfortable throughout.
Sporting have taken a bit of a dip since these two sides last met, while Olympiacos perhaps are slightly more settled and stronger currently. That won’t change the fact that the Portuguese will be the big favorites once again. Sporting have lost only two matches all season and those against the likes of Barcelona and Juventus.
At this point, Olympiacos will much more concerned with how their title defense in Greece is going than what occurs in this Champions’ League group which was always going to be an uphill battle. Still, Lemonis will surely be firing up his troops in what effectively is a match that looks like a final for the Greek team. A two-goal victory could indeed see Olympiacos sneak into third place. That appears unlikely, but if Olympiacos can somehow conjure up the spirit and resilience on display against Barcelona a few weeks ago then perhaps there is the chance for something decent to grab in Lisbon on Wednesday evening.