Sporting 0 - 1 Barcelona: match report, goals, how it happened
Sporting Clube de Portugal welcomed FC Barcelona in matchday 2 of the 2017/18 Champions League to the Estadio Jose Alvalade in Lisbon. With two teams facing each other that had both started the season in fine form, an exciting, high-intensity match was hoped for, with goals a plenty. This was partially lived up to.
Sporting press and close out Barça space
The game moved from end to end with both Jorge Jesus and Ernesto Valverde clearly confident in their respective sides causing problems for the opposition's backline. Sporting came into this with 16 goals in the opening seven league game while Barcelona had delivered 20 in just six. As it turned out, goals were not to be in plentiful supply on a night that would be decided by a single, and scruffy, own goal.
The Lions were at it from the start. A high tempo, matched by the intensity of their fans, and a regulated press that at opportune times pushed on as far as to hurry Ter Stegen's clearances but rarely too much to leave them stretched behind. This press closed off several of the gaps that Barça's creative players so often take advantage of and they hunted in packs as the Catalans moved into the final third.
Scruffy own goal the difference
Barça's quality was not completely stifled, though. Iniesta and Messi were still able to pick the lock of a heavily guarded door but on relatively few occasions. And when they did, and the offside flag stayed down, cover was quickly across to snuff out the danger. Both Coentrao and Mathieu had previous with the blaugrana; both excelled in key moments for their current club.
The goal, when it came, was scruffy and unnecessary from Jesus' perspective. One of several free-kicks had been cheaply given away and there should have been enough bodies in green and white to clear the inswinging delivery. A slight flick on from a leaping defender caused confusion and Luis Suárez added to that, but the ball bounced off Sebastian Coates who couldn't react quickly enough to stop it drifting past the wrong-footed Rui Patricio.
Barça did enough for three points
Chances came and went at both ends, with the visitors, unsurprisingly finishing the match with over 60% possession, but neither team were able to put the chances they had away. Some will say this was a lack of clinical edge in front of goal on the night, which is true, however credit must also go to both Patricio and Ter Stegen for second half saves when it looked more likely a goal would come. Barcelona were not at their sharpest but did enough and will be delighted to come away with three points that mean they top Group D and are in a great position to stay there.
Sporting vs Barcelona online: how it happened live
Sporting vs Barcelona online: match preview
Beautiful Lisbon is the setting for this second group game between the two sides that have already claimed three points and both managers know that another win would put them in a great position to qualify for the knockout stages.
Sporting latest news
The Champions League three-point start for the Lions beating Olympiakos 2-3 in their own back yard had continued their excellent start to the season. Not until last weekend – in a 1-1 draw against Moreirense – had Sporting dropped points and manager Jorge Jesus denied that it had anything to do with thoughts of the Spanish giants coming to town.
“I don’t think the game against Barcelona weighed heavy; the fact we played poorly in the opening 45 minutes wasn’t to do with that. After the break, we were fighting again, and we could have gone 2-1 up,” he said after the draw.
Positive news for Jesus is that he has no injury worries ahead of what will be by far and away their toughest test of the campaign. Striker Bas Dost and supporting Gelson Martins are looking good with four and three goals respectively. Add to their threat the five goals in seven games from midfielder Bruno Fernandes, plus a noisy home support, and we have the recipe for a very interesting night. Barça will start favourites but will be guilty of negligence to take their opponents too lightly.
Barcelona latest news
Sitting pretty at the top of LaLiga after six games, with a surprising seven points between them and expected title rivals Real Madrid, Barcelona will arrive in good spirits for this match in Lisbon.
Ernesto Valverde's team have notched up six league wins out of six, to go with the most impressive result this season, a 3-0 victory over Juventus in their Champions League opener, and the new manager has been encouraged with strong performances from fellow new recruits Paulinho, Nélson Semedo and the returning Gerard Deulofeu. The latter has a chance to stake a claim for a regular starting birth alongside Luis Suárez and Lionel Messi in the forced absence of record signing Ousmane Dembélé.
Goals have been in plentiful supply both at home at away with a combined total of 23 for and 2 against in the seven games. Sporting will do well to keep their net unbothered for the full 90 minutes. One of the main reasons for Barça’s success in front of goal has been the scintillating early form of their continued talisman, Messi, who has 11 goals to his name. Quieting the Argentine genius will surely be part of Sporting’s plans, but that’s a tough ask and often just provides others with more freedom to have an impact. On the potential that another man-marking job will be imposed on the mercurial number 10, Valverde agreed saying:
“Messi being man-marked is something that can happen. But it’s also certain that it will create openings for us to take advantage of.”
Sporting Clube vs Barcelona Live stream online: potential line-ups
Sporting Clube XI: Patrício, Piccini, Coates, Mathieu, Coentrao, Carvalho, Rodrigo Battaglia, Fernandes, Acuña, Martins, Dost
Head coach: Jorge Jesus
Barcelona XI: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Piqué, Umtiti, Alba; Busquets, Iniesta, Rakitic; Messi, Suarez, Deulofeu.
Head coach: Ernesto Valverde
Sporting Clube vs Barcelona live stream online: betting
As expected, Barcelona are backed strongly by the bookmakers despite it being an away game with them almost 3/1 ON to win. If you’re looking for some better value for your euro, why not consider Sporting to have a hard-fought half-time lead but the Catalans to come through in the second half? That wager would turn 10 euros into 160 euros.