Sporting Lisbon - Athletic Bilbao Preview: Marcelo Bielsa's side attempting to set up all-Spanish Europa League final
The Basque outfit, conquerors of Manchester United and Schalke, will face a difficult task against a side with an exemplary home record in the competition
Pereira, Xandao, Polga, Insua
Izmailov, Van Wolfswinkel, Capel
Iraola, San Jose, Amorebeita, Aurtenetxe
De Marcos, Herrera
Susaeta, Llorente, Muniain
Sporting defender Daniel Carrico returns to the fold after missing the second leg of the quarter-final tie against Metalist due to suspension. Bruno Pereirinha and Oguchi Onyewu resumed full training last week but will most likely not feature in the starting lineup.
Jeffren Suarez is in doubt for the match because of fitness problems, while Fito Rinaudo and Alberto Rodriguez have been ruled out as they are still recovering from their respective injuries. Sporting coach Ricardo Sa Pinto will also not be able to count on Elias, who is ineligible for the continental competition.
Athletic coach Marcelo Bielsa has been boosted by the news that Iker Muniain is fit to play after missing the weekend match against Mallorca because of injury. Carlos Gurpegui flew with the rest of the team Lisbon after a six-month absence following a knee ligament injury, but he is expected to be left out of the match squad.
One significant blow for the Spanish side is the loss of Javi Martinez through suspension.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Sporting Lisbon have won every match at the Estadio do Alvalade since Ricardo Sa Pinto took over from Domingos Paciencia.
- They have equalled Barcelona's record for the highest number of consecutive continental victories with the 2-1 win against Metalist last month.
- Athletic Bilbao lost to Sporting 4-2 on aggregate in the 1985/86 Uefa Cup third round, winning the first leg 2-1 at home before suffering a 3-0 defeat in Lisbon.
- Ricardo Sa Pinto's Sporting side have a record of five victories, five draws and eight defeats in previous matches against Spanish clubs.
- Athletic's record against Portuguese opposition, on the other hand, read four victories, one draw and one defeat.
- Marcelo Bielsa's side are on a five-game unbeaten run in Europe and have won four of their last six matches on the road since the start of the Europa League group stage.
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Top 3 Predictions
Sporting CP 1-2 Athletic de Bilbao
- 18.16 %
Sporting CP 1-3 Athletic de Bilbao
- 11.36 %
Sporting CP 0-2 Athletic de Bilbao
- 9.65 %
|Europa League (EL)||26 Apr 2012||Athletic de Bilbao 3 - Sporting CP 1|
|Europa League (EL)||19 Apr 2012||Sporting CP 2 - Athletic de Bilbao 1|
|19 May 2013||Beira-Mar 1 - Sporting CP 4||POR1|
|11 May 2013||Sporting CP 1 - SC Olhanense 0||POR1|
|5 May 2013||Paços Ferreira 1 - Sporting CP 0||POR1|
|28 Apr 2013||Sporting CP 2 - CD Nacional 1||POR1|
|21 Apr 2013||Benfica 2 - Sporting CP 0||POR1|
|Returns:||Sporting £26.30||Sign up with bet365 for a free bet up to £200|
|Returns:||Draw £75.00||Sign up with William Hill for a free bet up to £25|
|Returns:||Bilbao £460.00||Sign up with William Hill for a free bet up to £25|
|-||Marat Nailevich Izmailov||Striker|
|9||Ricky van Wolfswinkel||Striker|
|3||Jon Aurtenetxe Borde||Defender|
|9||Fernando Llorente Torres||Striker|
|10||Óscar De Marcos||Midfielder|
|13||Raúl Fernández Mateos||Goalkeeper|
|6||Mikel San José Domínguez||Defender|
|31||Jonas Ramalho Chimeno||Defender|
The former Sevilla winger will be given the opportunity to impress against his fellow countrymen, and will need to relish his opportunity in order to provide his side with a platform for victory.
The young Spaniard is one of the most exciting young talents in European football at the moment, and his form has been one of the highlights of this season's tournament. Expect him and Llorente to provide Sporting with no end of problems on Thursday.
Sporting have an excellent record on home soil, particularly in this season's Europa League, but Bilbao have notched brilliant victories away against Manchester United and Schalke, so perhaps a draw will be the most likely outcome.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed