The Chelsea squad touched down in the Portuguese capital on Monday ahead of their second match in the 2014/15 Champions League campaign. The news from Chelsea’s camp was that they didn’t travel with a full compliment of players, with Didier Drogba and Ramires both missing out through injury. Mourinho stated in his press conference that Diego Costa will start the game, but having already hinted that his troublesome hamstring makes it difficult for him to train, it is unlikely that Costa will complete 90 minutes, especially with Arsenal visiting at the weekend.
The question of how Chelsea will approach the game is an intriguing one, will Jose go all out for the win or would he be happy enough to take a draw from what will arguably be the hardest of all the group games? It would be more likely that, having played out a slightly disappointing draw against Schalke in the first group game, Chelsea would want to take all three points, but there is also an argument to be made for not risking an unbeaten mentality that currently stretches back throughout the season so far. On the other hand, the temptation of wrapping up qualification for the next round as early as possible, allowing for more rested players, will be great.
Winning the game against Sporting, however, will require Chelsea to be at the top of their game. Whilst they are perhaps the weakest of Portugal’s ‘big three’, behind Benfica and Porto, Sporting Lisbon (or Sporting Clube de Portugal as they are officially known), still boast a number of talented players, including coveted central midfielder William Carvalho. Also in the Sporting ranks is pacey winger Nani, who has scored a number of goals against Chelsea in the past, including an incredible strike in the 3-1 defeat to Manchester United three years ago. The Portuguese club have also had an extra day of rest, as they played their league fixture on Friday.
Sporting, who were founded in 1906, currently play their football at the Estádio José Alvalade in Lisbon, which was built in 2003 to replace the former stadium of the same name. They were one of the founding members of the Portuguese Primeira Liga in 1933, and they are unsurprisingly one of the three most successful clubs in the country, having won 44 domestic trophies. The Lisbon club finished the 2013/14 season in second place, behind local rivals and eventual champions Benfica, which meant that they both qualified automatically for the Champions League group stage.
Sporting drew their first game of this seasons Champions League against Maribor, meaning that all four teams in Group G currently sit on one point, having played one game each, with all teams scoring and conceding one goal each.