Sporting have been crowned champions of Portugal 18 times but last season
trudged home in fourth place, 22 points behind winners Porto after
winning just one of their final five fixtures.
However, they have yet to get this season started after a coronavirus outbreak
hit the club. Nine players and three staff members, including manager
Ruben Amorim, have tested positive for Covid-19, leading to the
cancellation of their opening league game against Gil Vicente.
Thursday’s tie with the Reds has been given the go-ahead but Sporting
will have to turn to their fringe men and youth-team recruits for the
visit of Derek McInnes’ team to the Estadio Jose Alvalade.
Amorim will not be on the touchline tomorrow night as he continues to
self-isolate but he does have recent experience of taking on Scottish
opposition. He took over at Sporting back in March just a week after his
former Braga side were dumped out of last year’s competition by
Rangers. He is now tasked with leading the Lions to a first league crown
in 18 years, but as a player he was best known for his nine-year stint
at city rivals Benfica, where he won three Portuguese league titles.
Aberdeen look set to face Brazilian midfield ace Wendel after Sporting were
reported to have turned down an undisclosed bid from Monaco for the
23-year-old, who has also been linked with Manchester United.
Sporting’s only European triumph came in 1964 as they defeated Hungary’s MTK
Budapest after a replay to claim the Cup Winner’s Cup, although they
came close to lifting the 2005 UEFA Cup before slumping to CSKA Moscow
in the final. They do not have the best record against against Scottish
clubs, winning just five times from 14 fixtures against Rangers, Celtic,
Dundee and Hibernian. They have only once got the better of Tartan
opposition over two legs, with future Hoops hero Jorge Cadete netting in
a 2-1 aggregate win back in 1993.
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