Things are heating up in group F, with just one point separating the top three teams following Sporting Lisbon’s win over Legia Warsaw, and the draw between Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, in the last game week.
Sporting now host the Germans at the Estadio Jose Alvalade, and vice versa at the Westfalenstadion next week, as the two teams battle it out for second spot — Real Madrid are practically assured of two wins against Legia Warsaw, home and away.
This will be the first time the two sides will meet in the UEFA Champions League, and while Sporting’s record against German sides isn’t great, their superb home form should make this an interesting watch.
Sporting have been excellent at home ever since Jorge Jesus took over in the summer of 2015, losing just thrice at the Estadio Jose Alvalade, and head into this game on the back of 9 consecutive victories in front of their own fans.
Domestically, the side from Lisbon have started the season excellently, and currently sit third after 5 wins in 7 games. Bas Dost moved to Sporting from Wolfsburg in the summer, and the Dutch has been the Portuguese Liga signing of the year, so far, scoring 4 goals in as many games in the league to help propel his side upwards.
After years of underperforming in the UEFA Champions League, Jorge Jesus’ men seem to have put their European troubles behind them, and finally look like a side ready to mount a decent challenge in an otherwise tough group. They ran themselves into the ground against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, and almost had their efforts pay off, too, taking an early lead, before two late goals gave the home side a hugely underserved win.
Their last game in Europe saw Sporting comfortably win 2 – 0 against a Legia Warsaw side that has now conceded 8 goals in their opening two games. A win against Dortmund would see them propelled into second place, and with a game each against Real Madrid left for the two teams, second place is more than likely going to be decided in the two back-to-back fixtures.
Manager Jorge Jesus will be without Adrien Silva, Jefferson, Lukas Spalvis, and Radosav Petrovic for this encounter.
This is how Sporting are expected to line up:
Joao Pereira, Rúben Semedo, Sebastian Coates, Jefferson;
Gelson Martins, Elias Trindade, Lazar Markovic;
Bryan Ruiz, Bas Dost.
Thomas Tuchel has travelled to Portugal with a massively injury-hit side; Marcel Schmelzer’s injury on the weekend meant Tuchel has no recognized leftback in the side, and if Lukasz Piszczek can’t recover in time for the kickoff in Lisbon, BVB will be without a fullback in the starting XI.
The Germans certainly won’t be helped by packed fixture list, either. Starting with last weekend’s tie against Hertha Berlin (the match ended in a 1 – 1 draw), Tuchel’s men will play six games in 19 days, which include a derby against Schalke, and the double header against Sporting.
Schmelzer joins a rather long list of injured players, that includes: Marco Reus, Neven Subotic, Sven Bender, Lukasz Piszczek, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Erik Durm, Adrian Ramos, Gonzalo Castro, Raphael Guerreiro, and Andre Schurrle.
Having at least 8 potential first XI players missing certainly hasn’t helped results either, and Dortmund go into this game without a win in their last 3 games in all competitions.
It’s not just the results that have suffered amidst the injury crisis, but the performances too. For all the pace and flair in the side, not having a settled playing XI has started to show in BVB’s attacls, as they’ve struggled to break opposition sides down in the final third to create goal scoring opportunities. It’s certainly telling that the last three matches have only brought 3 goals for the Germans, compared to an astonishing 20 goals in the four before (a period that saw them score 6 twice!).
Away to Sporting, Thomas Tuchel’s side will almost certainly be playing on the counter attack, and the likes of Aubameyang and co. must ensure they’re at their clinical best, if they expect to get anything out of this match.
This is how Borussia Dortmund are expected to lineup:
Sebastian Rode, Matthias Ginter, Marc Bartra, Felix Passlack;
Julian Weigl, Nuri Sahin;
Christian Pulisic, Shinji Kagawa, Ousmane Dembele;
*Team news as at time of writing.
Sporting Lisbon 1 – 1 Borussia Dortmund
Both sides have struggled as of late, and while Sporting come into this match in superb form at the Estadio Jose Alvalade, Dortmund owe Tuchel a big performance after their recent showings. The speed of BVB’s counter attack is always a threat, and should the big man up get a chance through on goal, expect him to bury it.
At the other end, Sporting will be counting on Bas Dost and his knowledge of German football, and indeed of Borussia Dortmund, to carve out a chance and possibly take the game to their visitors.