Sporting face FCSB in the first leg of their Champions League play-off fixture on Tuesday night, with a place in the group stages of the competition the glittering prize on offer for the winners of this tie.
Jorge Jesus’ side played in the group stages last term but have to overcome the Romanian runners-up if they are to replicate that achievement this term, having finished third in the Portuguese top flight.
FCSB, formerly known as Steaua Bucharest, suffered a chastening 6-0 aggregate defeat against Manchester City in the play-off round last year and the Romanian outfit will be desperate to make a better account of themselves on this occasion; Viorel Tanase’s team enjoyed a superb 6-3 aggregate victory against Czech side Viktoria Plzen to set up this meeting against the Iberians.
Sporting have taken maximum points from their opening two league fixtures and Jesus’ side are warm favourites to take a lead to the Romanian capital next week, with MarathonBet offering just 31/100 (1.31) that the team from Portugal come out on top in Lisbon.
FCSB were surprisingly pipped to the Romanian title by Gheorghe Hagi’s Viitorul last season but they are unbeaten in all competitions thus far this term, having won four and drawn four of their eight competitive outings; MarathonBet go 12/1 (13.0) that Tanase’s men extend their unbeaten run in style by claiming a famous victory here, while the same firm go 22/5 (5.40) that the tie remains all square ahead of next week’s return leg.
Sporting, however, are solid on home soil. They have won four of their last six home fixtures in this competition, with their only defeats during that run coming against Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid last term. Jesus’ men will certainly feel that they can justify favouritism by claiming a comfortable first leg lead against the Romanian outfit.
Tanase’s men will take some comfort from the fact that Sporting have conceded in all but one of their last eight Champions League fixtures on home soil – while FCSB put four past Plzen on their travels in the previous round.
There is, therefore, potential for goals at both ends when these two teams lock horns in a battle for a place in the Champions League group stages and MarathonBet’s generous 44/25 (2.76) quote for these two teams to find the net could offer decent value ahead of Tuesday’s tussle.