Sporting v FC Porto – Saturday 7th January 2012 – Estádio José Alvalade (22:15)
The Portuguese Primeira Liga returns this weekend from their break and all eyes will be at the top of the table where 3rd place Sporting Lisbon host log leaders FC Porto. The three superpowers of Portuguese football find themselves in the top three again this season, however Porto have been under much more pressure compared to last season.
Sporting are sitting 3rd on the log after dropping crucial points in 2 of their last 3 matches before the Christmas break. They will hope that break served the team well and will be hoping for a win that could bring them just 3 points away from Porto. Sporting have finished in the top 3 for more than 10 years, however their last league title was back in the 2001/2002 season and they are now looking to bring back the glory years after going on a spending spree of note at the beginning of the season. The club focused on signing up and coming stars between the ages of 20 – 23 years old to ensure long term success for the club. One of their best signings was Diego Capel from Sevilla. The left-winger who was impressive at Sevilla has represented the Spanish Junior national teams at every age group. They also have the talented Jeffren Suarez in their ranks who joined from Barcelona as well as Emanuel Insua from Liverpool and their top scorer so far this season, 22-year-old Dutch sensation Ricky van Wolfswinkel.
FC Porto have not been the force they were last term under Andre Villas-Boas but are still leading the league on goal difference over Benfica and are unbeaten so far. They were eliminated in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League finishing behind Apoel and Zenit in Group G. Domestically they are still banging in the goals at home having scored 21 in 7 matches, however it is away from home where they need to improve if they are going to start pulling away from Benfica and Sporting. Hulk has proved to be the key man for the club again this season and if loss to Chelsea then their league title will be under heavy threat. Belgian International Steven Defour is set to make his return in this clash. The highly rated midfielder was signed to bolster the centre of the park at Porto but has been unable to star on a consistent basis due to injury.
This fixture was drawn 1-1 last season and the draw looks to be the best bet again this time.