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Sporting vs. Porto (Pick:Sporting)

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[h=1]Sporting - Porto[/h]
The first thing to keep in mind is that this is the first League Cup game of a group stage with 4 teams in which they will only face each other once. So as this is the first of three matches where the other group contenders are Marítimo and Penafiel is safe to say that whoever wins this one will have already a foothold in the next stage (semifinals) as only the first of the group qualifies. There is clearly a different degree of motivation in approaching this fixture. Sporting is already out of the Portuguese cup and not taking part in any European competitions so, apart from the championship; this competition is their only hope for silverware this season. Thus, no rotations are expected with coach Jardim conceding only 4 days of Christmas holidays to his players resuming training and preparation on past Thursday. Porto, on the other hand, is still in the Portuguese cup, has high hopes in Europa League and traditionally uses this competition to give minutes to non-regulars. Coach Paulo Fonseca gave a longer period of 6 holiday-days to his players and only resumed training in Friday afternoon 24 hours prior to the trip to Lisbon. If we take in consideration that there is a huge contingent of southern-American players that travelled to their countries in this period we easily reach the conclusion that several of the participants in this match won’t be at their top level. Sporting is coming from a lousy home performance with a disappointing 0:0 draw against Nacional. It’s true that there was a wrongly disallowed goal that could have granted them the victory but it’s was also clear for everyone watching the game that Nacional controlled the most part of it and had the best chance to score. Among the Lisbon lions there is also a sense that this game is a great opportunity for revenge after the defeat in Do Dragao for the Championship (3:1). A great atmosphere is expected in the stadium. CM André Martins recovered form a slight knock suffered last weekend and coach Jardim will have a full squad to choose from. He already announced he will make 3 changes in the normal formation one per sector. I expect something like this: Patricio – Cedric, Rojo, Mauricio, Piris – Carvalho, Vitor, Adrien – Capel, Montero, Eduardo Porto’s players seem to have found their groove again after two convincing victories over Rio Ave and Olhanense where AM Carlos Eduardo shined more than everyone else. There is also some expectation among the fans for some signings in this January transfer window in order to improve the team especially in the flanks as the wingers have perform poorly so far. Some rotations are expected for this match also considering that Striker Jackson Martinez arrived late to resume training and he will probably start from the bench and first choice keeper Helton is not even in the players list. It’s difficult to make predictions but Porto could look a little bit like this: Fabiano – Danilo, Mangala, Maicon, Alex Sandro – Fernando, Lucho, Carlos Eduardo – Varela, Ghilas, Josue After considering all the above mentioned factors, the fact that in the recent H2H meetings in Alvalade Porto hadn’t manage to win since 2008 and that both will be extra cautious not to lose as this could be the end in this competition, I find that any positive handicap on Sporting is value considering that the draw is also a probable outcome. Pick: (Sporting)

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Re: Sporting vs. Porto (Pick:Sporting) Does anyone have any insight into the two matches today Belenenses, Benfica. reason for the question, was just looking at the enhanced odds advertised by bookmakers on here. Benfica, Belenenses, and Rangers -1 which looks tempting @ 4/1. Looking at the both portuguese matches, I would think Benfica had the harder match of the two. Normally these big teams in Portugal do the business home and away, but not sure about how they take these type matches.

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