Ruben Amorim’s Sporting conceded the fewest goals of any club in Europe’s top five leagues, plus Portugal’s Primeira Liga, last season (20), but they take on Besiktas in the Champions league on Tuesday night with an awful defensive record in Europe.
Amorim masterminded domestic title success last term in record-breaking fashion, with his Sporting enjoying the longest unbeaten run in a single Primeira Liga season (32 matches), but focus now extends to Europe for 2021/22, and Leoes have not kept a clean sheet in any of their last 12 Champions League games.
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Where to watch Besiktas vs Sporting on TV:
- UK: BT Sport ESPN
- US: Galavision
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It was an exquisite previous campaign for Sporting under the relatively-inexperienced Amorim, who has only been occupying the dugout for three years, starting out at Casa Pia, before taking the reins in Lisbon in March 2020. That appointment has proven inspired by the makers and shakers at the Estadio Jose Alvalade.
Under his stewardship in 2020/21, Sporting thwarted Porto and Benfica to bring home their first Primeira Liga in 19 years, and doing so having tasted just the single defeat. His side were well-drilled both offensively and defensively, as they mimicked their goals conceded with cleans sheets (20 on both counts).
Sporting’s defensive record proved the best in Europe’s top five leagues, plus their own division, while their 20 clean sheets was bettered only by French champions Lille, who enjoyed 21 shutouts as they dethroned perennial Ligue 1 champions PSG. That formidable rearguard action, though, has not yet translated to Europe.
In their curtain-raising loss to Ajax, Sporting conceded five goals, while they also suffered a 1-0 loss to Dortmund last time out. Six goals shipped in just two games is not the stuff of ‘Europe’s best defence’. In fact, that is now 21 goals conceded in their last 12 Champions League games.
Their last clean sheet in the competition came all the way back in September 2016 against Legia Warsaw, and while the club continue to readjust without teenage wunderkind Nuno Mendes, who joined PSG in the summer, Amorim will need to tighten up if his side are going to get a result against an unpredictable Besiktas.
Scoreline prediction: Besiktas 0-1 Sporting
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Besiktas vs Sporting previous line-ups & injury news:
- Besiktas (vs Istanbul Basaksehir): Gunok; Rosier, Welinton, Vida, Yilmaz; Hutchinson, Souza, Ghezzal, Yalcin, Ozyakup; Batshuayi.
- Sporting (vs Belenenses): Virginia; Esgaio, Feddal, Inacio; Esteves, Braganca, Ugarte, Vinagre; Goncalves, Jovane; Tomas.
Miralem Pjanic, Mehmet Topal and Georges-Kevin Nkoudou are all currently sidelined for the hosts, but Cyle Larin returned last match after a short time out through injury and was handed a 45-minute run out, so could well make the starting line-up on Tuesday night. As for Sporting, attacking fulcrum Pedro Goncalves is a doubt, while Amorim is expected to completely rotate his squad following their 4-0 cup win over Belenenses.
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