By 90Min
April 11, 2018

Atletico Madrid come into this game buoyed by their a routine 2-0 win in the home tie with Sporting CP. Koke's goal 26 seconds into the first leg put Simeone's team on the front foot from the outset, and the game was wrapped up by an Antoine Griezmann strike late in the first half. 

But Sporting president Bruno de Carvalho has since chimed in with his opinion of his team's performance, labelling his players as 'spoiled kids' and threatening to suspend 19 members of the first team squad. 

The President lifted the suspensions of the 19 players who voiced their displeasure with the owner's comments on social media prior to Sporting's meeting with Pacos Ferreira on Sunday.

Tensions, however, will inevitably still be high and anything other than a Sporting win may see some unpleasant scenes erupt after the final whistle. 

Sporting have a huge task to turn this tie around, and it is hard to envision anything other than Atletico progressing to the semi finals of the Europa league. 


Recent Form

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/GettyImages

Since the first leg, both teams have recorded impressive results. Atletico Madrid drew 1-1 with cross city rivals Real Madrid in the Madrid derby, and Sporting cruised to a 2-0 home victory over Pacos Ferreira after a turbulent week. 

Sporting CP sit 3rd in the Primeira Liga standings, six points behind league leaders Benfica. There attention is likely to be firmly focussed on progression in the Europa League, with the clubs seemingly now out of contention for the league title.


Key Battle


Gelson Martins vs Lucas Hernández

The first leg of the tie proved how potent Atletico Madrid's star men can be in front of goal. Griezmann has netted two in his past two games, and has shown in 2018 a revival of the form we had become accustomed to from the Frenchman.


But Sporting need to score. This means what we will likely see is an Atletico Madrid team set up to frustrate the Portuguese outfit, making Martins vs. Hernández a key contest. 


To keep Martins quiet is to keep Sporting quiet. The first leg proved as much. In the 2-0 home victory Martins had just one shot in the 90 minutes. He showed glimpses of his quality producing some mazy runs, but lacked the final ball. 


Martins has registered seven goals and seven assists in 24 appearances from the wing in the league this season, and has been capable of changing a game on his own. However, if his opposite number turns in a similar standard of performance to that in the first leg, Martins will find it difficult to establish himself in the game again.

GABRIEL BOUYS/GettyImages

Hernández marshalled the tricky Portuguese winger astutely in the previous fixture. According toWhoscored.com, the Madrid full back completed six successful tackles in the game, the most of any Atletico Madrid player. 


He has shown signs of weakness, however, and Martins will be encouraged by Gareth Bale's performance up against the French full back in the 1-1 draw at the weekend. 


Team News 


Despite the reports suggesting that only six first team players remained unsuspended, most of the Sporting's players were in action for the 2-0 win over Ferreira. Sporting striker Daniel Podence remains out long term, and Bruno Silva is still struggling with a knock he picked up in early March. 

William Carvalho is expected to return for the game, to add some defensive solidity after being rotated at the weekend, while Battaglia will likely keep his place in the starting XI. 

Denis Doyle/GettyImages

Atletico continue to monitor Jose Gonzalez, who was injured while playing internationally for Uruguay against Wales in the China Cup. 

The line up is expected to be very similar to that seen in the previous leg.  Gimenez is likely to come back in for Savic given a strong performances last time out, while Correa is also expected to return to the lineup, replacing Vitolo, to complete Simeone's trusted 4-4-2. 


Potential Sporting CP Starting Lineup: Rui Patricio; C. Piccini; S. Coates; J. Mathieau; M. Acuna; W. Carvalho; R. Battaglia; G. Martins; B. Fernandes; B. Ruiz; B. Dost. 


Potential Atletico Madrid Starting Lineup; J. Oblak, Juanfran; J. Gimenez; D. Godin; L. Hernández; A. Correa; T. Partey; S. Niguez; Koke; D. Costa; A. Griezmann 


Prediction

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/GettyImages

Despite the home advantage, Sporting CP will likely struggle against the quality that Atletico Madrid have, and the manner in which they are likely to play. They have shown no example this season of turning in a performance sufficient of scoring three past one of the best defensive teams in world football. 

It is unlikely that a goal heavy game is on the cards either, given Atletico have no need to come out on the front foot, but this should be a fairly routine performance for the Spanish outfit. This game only looks to go one way. 

Prediction: Sporting CP 0-1 Atletico Madrid

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