At the halfway stage of this Europa League knockout round play-off tie, things are even, meaning we essentially have a straight shootout. Sebastian Coates’ 94th-minute equaliser last week ensured that Sporting CP went into the second leg on level terms, still in with a chance of progressing in what may be their best chance of qualifying for the Champions League.
It’s been a poor season for Sporting so far, currently fourth in the Primeira Liga and eight points behind third-placed Braga. In Europe, things started so well as Sporting won their opening two Champions League group stage matches but they failed to win any of the remaining four, just about scraping third place to drop down into the Europa League.
Midtjylland are also middling in the Danish Superliga right now, currently fourth, 10 points behind league leaders Nordsjaelland after 18 games played. In the Danish Superliga, only the top two automatically move into European football (the qualifying rounds of the Champions League and Conference League respectively) with the third-placed side having to enter a play-off with whoever finishes top of the relegation round (seventh).
The Danish side were part of the most interesting group of the Europa League alongside Feyenoord, Lazio and Sturm Graz. All four teams ended the group on the side number of points and head-to-head results couldn’t separate them either, meaning Midtjylland went through on goal difference and only finished second having scored one fewer goal than Feyenoord.
(Stake Not Returned on Free Bets). 18+ New UK Customers. Must bet £10 in total on 4+ legs, min odds 4.0. £20 credited as free bets, stake not returned. T&C Apply. BeGambleAware.org.
Midtjylland vs Sporting CP match stats
Last week’s game was all about the second half, with both goals coming after half time. Emam Ashour opened the scoring in the 77th minute before Coates’ injury-time equaliser, with 13 shots in total for both teams compared to just eight in the first half.
Sporting do not fare well away from home in the knockout stages of major European competitions, but Midtjylland have not done well in knockout ties altogether. The Danish side have been eliminated from six of their seven previous two-legged knockout ties in major European competitions, only progressing past NK Varazdin in the first round of the 2002/23 UEFA Cup.
16 February 2023 – Sporting CP 1-1 Midtjylland – Europa League
27 September 2001 – Sporting CP 3-2 Midtjylland – UEFA Cup
20 September 2001 – Midtjylland 0-3 Sporting CP – UEFA Cup
Sporting are unbeaten in their three games against Midtjylland, all of which have come in Europe’s secondary club competition. Last week’s draw, however, was the first time Midtjylland have avoided defeat against Sporting.