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Thursday, 23 August 2012 08:55

Sporting and Marítimo aim to make it historic season for Portuguese football

Liga Zon Sagres duo in Europa League playoff action

Sá PintoPedro MartinsAfter Braga’s thrilling Champions League joust against Udinese last night, Sporting and Marítimo are Portugal’s representatives tonight in the Europa League, against AC Horsens (Denmark) and Dila Gori (Georgia) respectively. Should they make it through their playoffs, it will ensure six Portuguese teams are in the group stages of the European competitions for the first time.
 
Sporting face Danish competition in the qualification stages of the Europa League for the 4th time in the last three seasons. On the three previous occasions the Lions have got the better of Brondby and FC Nordsjalland (twice), but coach Sá Pinto is taking nothing for granted. “We have to show the utmost respect to our opponents, especially considering they have already played several competitive games this season.”
 
Indeed, the disparity between the match fitness of the two sets of players may help the hosts counter the strong favouritism of the visitors. Sporting played their first official match on Sunday evening, labouring to a tepid goalless draw at Vitória de Guimarães.
 
The poor performance accentuates what has become a feature of the Sá Pinto reign at Sporting. His team have produced excellent displays against quality opposition, but have often struggled to impose their game against supposedly weaker adversaries. Pinto does not believe that will be a problem this evening. “Our intention is clear: to win. Our only thought is about winning. We are used to this pressure.”
 
Rinaudo, Pranjic and Izmailov miss the trip due to injury.
Sporting squad: Rui Patrício, Marcelo Boeck, Cédric, Boulahrouz, Rojo, Xandão, Carriço, Insúa, Schaars, Elias, Gelson Fernandes, André Martins, Adrien, Diego Capel, Jeffren, Labyad, Carrillo, Wolfswinkel
 
 

Marítimo hit the ground running

While Sporting began the new season disappointingly, Marítimo have started 2012/13 in the same vein as their previous campaign; in impressive fashion. The islanders were one of only two teams to win on the opening weekend of Liga action. A deserved 1-0 triumph at Rio Ave, together with a hard-fought victory in their previous Europa League tie against Greek side Asteras Tripolis, suggest Pedro Martins’ team are again set for a positive season.
 
It’s fair to say that Marítimo’s opponents tonight, Dila Gori, is not a name that most football fans are readily acquainted with. But Martins was at pains to emphasise that his team will have to be at their best to make progress. “We are going to have to be very strong. We’ll be playing against a team that is not at all easy. They are physically strong and typically Russian, with highly technical players, who are cold and calculating,” said the Marítimo coach.
 
“We are not favourites. It wasn’t by chance that Dila Gori got past Anarthosis Famagusta. They are very strong away from home at making the transition from defence to attack quickly, stronger even than Asteras Tripolis, our last opponents. But our players have been warned about this and are prepared. We want to win without conceding goals.”
 
The Madeira side are without the suspended Ruben Ferreira, but are otherwise at full strength.
Marítimo squad: Salin, Ricardo Ferreira, Briguel, João Diogo, João Guilherme, Luís Olim, Roberge, Igor Rossi, Márcio Rosário, João Luiz, Rafael Miranda, Semedo, David Simão, Rodrigo António, Hassan, Fidelis, Sami, Heldon, Adilson, Danilo Dias, Ibrahim
 
by Tom Kundert
 
 
Comments (1)
Maritimo and sporting
1 Thursday, 23 August 2012 09:56
Make me proud boys, especially Maritimo. If both teams turn up they should have easy wins.

I have a very nervous morning coming.

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