By 90Min
September 26, 2017

Barcelona and Sporting CP are looking to continue winning starts when they meet in the Champions League Group D in Lisbon on Wednesday night. Barca certainly laid down a message of intent with their demolition of Juventus two weeks ago, whilst Sporting also looked good as they won away at Olympiakos.

In a tough group which contains four very good teams, this game alone could go a long way to deciding who will go through in Group D. 

Here's everything you need to know before Wednesday's clash in Lisbon:


Classic Encounter

Image by Rob Syer

The two sides last met at the same stage of the 2008/09 competition, and it was very much Barca's night that night. A 21-year-old Lionel Messi was at his very best, as the Argentine went on a mazy run to set up Thierry Henry for a tap in, Gerard Pique tapped in from close range and Messi himself finished off a quick free kick to make it 3-0. 

The hosts pulled two goals back in the space of two minutes to set up a tense last half an hour or so, but further goals from Bojan and an own goal gave the Catalans an emphatic 5-2 win in Portugal, just one victory on the way to Rome where they ended up lifting the trophy for a third time.


Key Battle


Gelson Martins v Jordi Alba & Sergi Roberto

LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/GettyImages

Linked with Liverpool in the summer, 22-year-old Gelson Martins is the latest wonderkid to be produced at Sporting, and as a rapid winger who can play down both flanks and at right back, it will be interesting to see how both Jordi Alba & Sergi Roberto deal with the unpredictable Portuguese star. 

Barcelona's defence has been strong so far,  and having conceded just two goals all season, will have a real test on their hands with Martins. He's notched 3 goals in 4 league games this season, and Olympiakos couldn't cope with him in the opening match of the group so being cheered on by around 50,000 fans could seriously rattle Barca and bring the best out of this promising young star, and make it a long night for Barca's back four, especially their full backs.

It's a case of how manager Jorge Jesus chooses to utilise the youngster. He may choose to use his pace to try and tame the likes of Messi and Suarez at the back, but you would think in a home tie against a side who have shown in the past they are prone to conceding a lot of goals Martins will look to run in behind with his electrifying pace and calm finishing, as well as link up with his fellow pacy attackers.


Team News

Alex Caparros/GettyImages

Sporting manager Jorge Jesus has no team selection issues, so home fans are likely to get the same eleven that brushed aside Olympiakos in their Group D opener, a team which will see ex-Barca defender Jeremy Mathieu face his former side, having left the Nou Camp for Lisbon in the summer.

Barcelona have Ousmane Dembele, Rafinha, Arda Turan and Paco Alcacer all ruled out with injury, and are look likely to use the same 4-4-2 formation they used in the weekend league win against Girona.


Potential Sporting XI: Patricio; Piccinini, Coates, Mathieu, Silva, Battaglia, Carvalho, Martins, Fernandes, Acuna, Doumbia.


Potential Barcelona XI: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Alba, Vidal, Busquets, Rakitic, Iniesta, Messi, Suarez.


Prediction

ARIS MESSINIS/GettyImages

Even though Barcelona have the stronger squad on paper, Sporting are not a team to be complacent about. They have a lot of pace up front in the form of Seydou Doumbia and Gelson Martins, and could cause Barca some issues defensively.

The Portuguese side probably don't have enough to overcome the Spanish giants, but certainly have enough to given them a hard ninety minutes in what should be an electric atmosphere. It will be a close encounter and expect some great attacking football, but a score draw looks to be the most likely outcome.

Prediction: Sporting CP 2-2 Barcelona

You May Like