Get ready Blues! 8 matches in the next 20 days are coming our way, this December. Out of those 8 fixtures, the first is the 6th round group stage match in the Champions League on Wednesday night.
Jose Mourinho’s side returned without any points from the St James’ Park on Saturday, which accounts to their first defeat of the season.
Still nothing is lost, with Blues still at the top of the Premier League table and having a chance to solidify the entry into the knockout stages of Champions League with a win in the upcoming game. However, we can’t expect this to come easily as we prepare to face a top Portuguese side, Sporting Lisbon.
Let us have a look at our opponents in our Opposition Scouting Report:
THE TEAM AND THE RECENT FORM
Sporting Lisbon is a Portuguese multi-sports club based in the capital city of Lisbon. Although they compete in various sports, they are best known for their association football team. Founded in the year of 1906, it’s one of ‘The Big Three’ clubs in the country, and are nicknamed as Leoes (The Lions). They are the third most successful club in Portugal with 44 domestic titles, which also include 18 Primeira Liga titles, and 1 international title when they won 1963-63 European Cup Winner’s Cup.
The team managed by Marco Silva, has 4 wins, 1 loss and 1 draw in their last seven fixtures in the Portuguese Liga, scoring 19 goals and conceding 8. The four wins also include a major 3-1 victory over the rivals Porto. In Champions League, they are placed second to the group leaders Chelsea who have 12 points in 5 matches compared to Sporting’s 7. They have won their last two games in the knockout stages, losing 2 out of the previous 3 and a draw.
FORMATION AND STYLE OF PLAY
Sporting Lisbon has traditionally been lining up in a 4-3-3 formation, but Marco Silva has adopted a 4-1-4-1 system since recent times and the same formation can be used against the Blues as well.
Usually, the front four consists of Adrian Silva, Diego Capel, Joao Mario and Nani who will be out from inujury against Chelsea, while the lone striker position is occupied by Andre Carrilo or Islma Slimani.
William Carvalho is the only defensive midfielder in front of back four but is often accompanied by Adrian Silva, playing in defensive midfield role, to guard the back four. With Nani out from injury, it will be interesting to see who will accompany Diego Capel as his counterpart at the wings. Joao Mario will be playing at the No.10 position behind the lone striker.
STRENGTH – KEY PLAYERS
1. William Carvalho: This 22-year-old highly-rated defensive midfielder has arisen from nowhere in over about last 14 months. He has a great control of the game by offering defensive solidity to the team and allowing full backs to push the midfielders ahead. This was a key factor behind the club’s outstanding 2013-14 season.
2. Adrian Silva: The 25-year-old box-to-box midfielder is known for passing and dribbling skills. He was Sporting Lisbon’s Player of the Year 2013 and can be their main man when it comes to counter attacking against Chelsea and keeping Courtois busy with long range efforts.
Club’s second highest goalscorer, Nani with 7 goals to his name, is out because of an injury which can also restrict them from producing any threats from the wings. Andre Carrilo, their 1st preference striker against Chelsea hasn’t really impressed this season with just 5 goals to his name, out of which 4 have come in the Portuguese Liga. While, Carvalho will face some real struggle against our midfield owing to his poor defending against fast dribbling.
HEAD TO HEAD
The two sides have met only once throughout their history and that too in the corresponding fixture of this year’s Champions League knockout stages. The visitors Chelsea returned with a win by 1 goal to nil.
Although Sporting will push themselves to do anything for the qualification to the knockouts, the home side will play without any pressure in front of their own fans, with a place in the Round of 16 confirmed. Jose’s men, however, can’t afford to get carried away and should try to make up for the loss to Newcastle United, this past weekend.
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Edited By: Ankur Bhatt