UEFA Champions League – Barcelona-Sporting CP – Sporting CP must scale Barcelona obstacle
Sporting Clube de Portugal face a tall order on matchday six: to have any chance of extending their UEFA Champions League season, they must win away to FC Barcelona, who have already wrapped up first place in Group D.
• The Portuguese side must turn round the 1-0 home defeat they suffered against the Blaugrana on matchday two, but even that might not be enough; trailing second-placed Juventus by a point, Sporting CP need the Italian team to fail to win away to Olympiacos FC, who will finish bottom.
• When these clubs met in the 2008/09 group stage, Barcelona – who went on to finish first in the section, with Sporting CP second, and ended the season by lifting the trophy – won 3-1 at the Camp Nou thanks to goals from Rafael Márquez, a Samuel Eto’o penalty and Xavi Hernández; Tonel replied for the visitors.
• The line-ups in Spain on 16 September 2008 were:
Barcelona: Valdés, Alves, Puyol (Sylvinho 89), Piqué, Márquez, Keita, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Eto’o (Touré 66), Henry (Pedro 75).
Sporting CP: Rui Patrício, Anderson Polga, Caneira (Pereirinha 79), Abel, Romagnoli (Miguel Veloso 66), Rochemback, Moutinho, Tonel, Izmailov, Derlei, Yannick Djaló (Postiga 62).
• Gerard Piqué and Lionel Messi were both on target in Barcelona’s 5-2 away win against Sporting CP on 26 November 2008. Thierry Henry, a Marco Caneira own goal and Bojan Krkić, a penalty after Sporting CP keeper Rui Patrício had been sent off, also registered for Barça, with Miguel Veloso and Liedson getting the home goals.
• The Spanish side were also victorious in the teams’ only other contest, although by a much narrower margin. Barcelona’s Julio Alberto scored the only goal of their first leg in the 1987/88 UEFA Cup second round but strikes in Lisbon from Manuel Negrete and Raphael Meade looked to have taken Sporting CP through, only for Roberto’s 83rd-minute effort to earn Barça an away-goals triumph.
• Barcelona are unbeaten in 23 UEFA Champions League home matches, a run that started in September 2013 (W21 D2).
• Barcelona’s record at home against Portuguese clubs is W10 D1 L1. The draw came in their most recent fixture, on matchday six against SL Benfica in 2012/13 (0-0). The only defeat came in their first game, with FC Porto winning 1-0 in Spain in the 1972/73 UEFA Cup first round.
• The Blaugrana are unbeaten in their last 15 matches against Portuguese teams, home and away (W12 D3), since a 1-0 loss at CF Os Belenenses in the 1987/88 UEFA Cup first round.
• This is Barcelona’s record-equalling 22nd UEFA Champions League group stage campaign, and 14th in succession. They last failed to reach the last 16 in 2000/01, although they did not take part in 2003/04.
• Sporting CP have never won in Spain, where their record is W0 D3 L8. Their most recent trip was a 2-1 defeat at Real Madrid CF on matchday one last term.
• Their elimination from last season’s edition of the UEFA Champions League was confirmed by a 2-1 loss at home to Madrid on matchday five; this season’s defeat by Barcelona was a fourth successive loss to Spanish opponents, home and away.
• Sporting CP have won only one of their last 11 fixtures against Spanish opposition (D3 L7), beating Athletic Club 2-1 at home in the 2011/12 UEFA Europa League semi-final first leg; they bowed out after losing the return 3-1.
• The Olympiacos victory was Sporting CP’s third in their last 25 European away fixtures (D5 L17). It was also their first away win in this competition proper since a 1-0 triumph at FC Basel 1893 on 9 December 2008; their subsequent record was D1 L6, with a five-game losing run prior to the Olympiacos victory including all three away matches in last season’s group stage.
• The Portuguese team were 5-1 aggregate winners against Romania’s FCSB in the play-offs, following up a 0-0 home draw with a 5-1 success in Bucharest. That win in Romania ended Sporting CP’s four-game losing streak in European away matches.
• Sporting CP are in the group stage for a third time in four years. In 2016/17, they came fourth in their section behind Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid CF and Legia Warszawa.
Coach and player links
• André Gomes played 41 games under Jorge Jesus – who gave him his professional debut – at Benfica between 2012 and 2014, scoring four goals. Nélson Semedo was part of Benfica’s B team during Jesus’ last two seasons at the club, but did not make his first-team debut until the coach had departed for Sporting CP.
• Gomes won all three of his Benfica matches against Sporting CP; Semedo’s record against Sporting CP with Benfica was W1 D1 L1.
• Andrés Iniesta scored past Rui Patrício as Spain beat Portugal 4-2 on penalties after a 0-0 draw in the UEFA EURO 2012 semi-finals; Piqué, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets and Fábio Coentrão also played.
• Lionel Messi beat Rui Patrício from the penalty spot as Argentina won 2-1 in a friendly match against Portugal in Switzerland, in February 2011; Javier Mascherano and Coentrão also featured.
• Bruno Fernandes and Daniel Podence were in the Portugal side beaten 3-1 by Gerard Deulofeu and Denis Suárez’s Spain in this summer’s UEFA European Under-21 Championship group stage; Tobias Figueiredo was an unused substitute.
• Between 2014 and 2017 Jérémy Mathieu made 63 league appearances for Barcelona, scoring three goals. Mathieu faced the Catalan side eight times in all competitions for Valencia CF between 2009 and 2014 (W1 D3 L4).
• As a Real Madrid player between 2011 and 2017, Coentrão made 58 Liga appearances, scoring once. He faced Barcelona ten times in all competitions (W4 D2 L4).
• Also played in Spain:
Tobias Figueiredo (CF Reus, 2013/14)
Cristiano Piccini (Real Betis Balompié, 2014–17)
• International team-mates:
Lucas Digne, Samuel Umtiti, Ousmane Dembélé & Jérémy Mathieu (France)
Nélson Semedo, André Gomes & Rui Patrício, Fábio Coentrão, Gelson Martins, William Carvalho (Portugal)
Jasper Cillessen & Bas Dost (Netherlands)
Javier Mascherano, Lionel Messi & Marcos Acuña (Argentina)
Luis Suárez & Sebastián Coates (Uruguay)
• Have played together:
Luis Suárez & Sebastián Coates (Liverpool FC, 2011–14)
André Gomes & Bruno Cèsar (Benfica, 2012)
Jordi Alba & Jérémy Mathieu (Valencia CF, 2009–12)
Paco Alcácer & Jérémy Mathieu (Valencia, 2013/14)
• Nélson Semedo will incur a suspension with his next booking.
• Ernesto Valverde’s side have won nine in a row at the Camp Nou, scoring 31 and conceding three in the process.*
• Barcelona are unbeaten in 20 matches in all competitions, winning 16, and have kept 14 clean sheets during that run including seven in their last nine matches.*
• Jordi Alba has scored three in his last five games for club and country, including a late equaliser at second-placed Valencia CF on 26 November – his first for Barcelona in 2017.
• Lionel Messi has 19 goals in 25 outings for club and country this term but none in his last six.*
• Messi is just three away from 100 UEFA Champions League goals.
• Messi and Luis Suárez are on the 30-man shortlist for the Ballon d’Or, the winner of which will be revealed on 7 December.
• Ousmane Dembélé will miss the rest of the group stage with a hamstring injury sustained against Getafe CF on 16 September.
• Sebastián Coates returns from suspension. Marcos Acuña, Fábio Coentrão, Gelson Martins and Bruno Fernandes are all a booking away from a ban.
• Sporting CP are yet to lose in domestic competition this season (W12 D4).
• Sporting CP have scored 19 goals in 13 home games in all competitions this season; away from home they have 27 goals in ten matches.
• Sporting CP have scored in 19 consecutive away games in all competitions.
• Bas Dost has scored nine goals in his last eight games.
• Rodrigo Battaglia scored his first Liga goal for Sporting CP in the 2-1 win at FC Paços de Ferreira on 26 November.
• Rui Patrício is one game away from going third on Sporting CP’s all-time appearance list. With 432 games for the club so far, the 29 year-old goalkeeper could overtake Hilário’s club-record tally of 453 this season.
• Marcos Acuña returned to the team at Paços de Ferreira, his first appearance since 5 November.
• Seydou Doumbia injured himself in the last international break and has not played for Sporting CP since 5 November.
• Jonathan Silva has had surgery after damaging knee ligaments against FC Famalicão on 16 November.
*Subject to updates