Sport has had lively days. After winning the league cup with victories over FC Porto and Sp.Braga, he won the derby with Benfica, which has not happened in the championship games since 2015, strengthened the undefeated leadership of the championship and bought the most expensive player in his history (Paulinho, 16 Millions). This Friday the animation continues with the return of the “Lions” to Barreiros for the 17th round of the championship against Marítimo (7pm, SPTV1), who were the only team to defeat Sporting in national competitions this season – won 2-0 the knockout round of the Portuguese Cup.
This time around, Sporting are at Funchal confident of beating their three closest rivals, with the motivation to finish the first lap safely in the lead. And a win against the Madeira team will be the best first round of this sporting (with 42 points in 16 games, 13 wins and three draws) since the I Liga in 2014-15 with 18 teams. The best first round “Leonine” in the last six seasons took place in 2015/16 in the first season with Jorge Jesus with 44 points (14 wins, two draws and one defeat).
Another difference between Sporting, who lost on January 11th, and the one that presents itself in Funchal this Friday, is called Paulinho, who became official as a winter reinforcement last Monday and was directly included in the election of Rúben Amorim.
The former Sp-Braga is a striker the likes of which the “Lions” didn’t have in their squad and his title is very likely against the Madeirans. Amorim knows Paulinho from Sp.Braga’s time, Paulinho knows how Amorim works, the striker has a good rhythm and Sporting doesn’t have as many options as this for the position, not least because Sporar went on loan to Minho.
In a call that did not include the injured Nuno Mendes and João Mário, or the punished Luís Neto, two of the three winter reinforcements were named (Paulinho and João Pereira) and the other (Matheus Reis) was left out.
Amorim will have to make some forced changes, but the recipe for the game will be the same as always. “Intensity, concentration and accuracy. Marítimo, the only team that won us in Portugal, have to be humble and know we need to improve, but we have good things and that is what we have to focus on, ”he said, guaranteeing that Sporting would not be out in this character Match Madeiran team.
On the other hand, there will be a maritime man who has a hard time. After triumphing over Sporting, the Milton Mendes-trained team still managed to beat Gil Vicente in the championship. He then suffered three straight defeats, one against Estoril, who threw him out of the Portuguese Cup. And in this second game with Sporting, the island team is unlikely to have Rodrigo Pinho, who scored in the cup game against the “Lions” and has already scored 13 goals in 16 games this season. The Brazilian striker, who is Benfica’s replacement for 2021-22, will be in doubt until the time of the game.