Porto to Win
Since the start of 2017, Porto have won six of their last eight matches against Sporting at the Estádio de Dragão, with the other two matches being a 0-0 draw against the Lions and a 2-2 draw that saw them erase an early two-goal deficit and remain six points clear of their rivals in first place. Apart from the latter match, Porto would fail to pick up the three points at home on just one occasion in last season’s Primeira Liga – a 1-1 draw to Gil Vicente – with Sérgio Conceição’s men remaining indomitable at home in a season that saw them cruise to a second domestic double in three years as well as a Portuguese league record 91 points. The following weeks would see various key players like Fábio Vieira, Vitinha and Chancel Mbemba depart the club, but Porto have nevertheless begun the season on the right track with a comfortable 3-0 win against Tondela in the Supertaça, a 5-1 victory against Marítimo at home, and a 1-0 victory in Vizela that saw Spanish center back Iván Marcano score the sole goal of the match in the 90th minute.
Porto’s departures would come early on in the window, allowing them to recover and bring in reinforcements as David Carmo replaced Mbemba in central defense whilst André Franco and Gabriel Verón have also arrived to provide creativity going forward. Not only do they have an unstoppable strike pairing in Mehdi Taremi and Evanilson, not only do they have a wealth of options in attack and a plethora of game-changers off the bench, but the hosts also have a key player making his first starting appearance of the season. Having racked up 3 goals and 13 assists in the league in 32 appearances, Otávio is set to return to Porto’s XI alongside Marko Grujić and Matheus Uribe in midfield as well as one of Pepê, Danny Namaso Loader or Wenderson Galeno, with the Brazilian-born Portuguese international offering a unique blend of creativity and dynamism in possession and aggressive defending off the ball for Porto.
An equally indispensable Brazilian-born Portugal midfielder is Matheus Nunes, who looks set to depart Sporting for Premier League side Wolves for €45 million plus €5 million in bonuses. The 23-year-old grabbed an assist in Sporting’s opening day 3-3 draw to Braga before scoring in a 3-0 win against Rio Ave, and his presence could be sorely missed in the first Clássico of the season as summer arrival Hidemasa Morita looks set to partner Manuel Ugarte in the double pivot. Without Nunes, and without the injured center forward Paulinho, Sporting could have a tough time getting out of Porto with a point. With Paulinho out, they do not have a single center forward with first-team experience which will see Amorim play Marcus Edwards or Pedro Gonçalves in a false 9 role, and with Daniel Bragança injured, their sole backup midfielders are unproven teenage prospects in the B team such as Dário Essugo or Mateus Fernandes. Porto, on the other hand, have far more depth and plenty more players who are capable of making an impact against tired legs, and I’m ba
Both Teams to Score
The first Clássico of the 2021/22 season saw Sporting grab the lead within 16 minutes via Nuno Santos and continue to push for a second goal only to be denied each time by 21-year-old goalkeeper Diogo Costa – who was filling in for the injured Agustín Marchesín before making the starting spot his own – with Porto holding on and grabbing an equalizer in the second half via a piece of individual magic from Luis Díaz. Five months later, they erased an early two-goal deficit at the Dragão and secured a 2-2 draw to remain six points clear at the top, before beating them 2-1 and 1-0 in the Taça de Portugal semifinals. Amorim’s first match-up against Porto as Sporting manager would see them lose 2-0 during Project Restart, whilst the following season would see Sporting draw 2-2, win 2-1 in the Taça da Liga Final, and draw 0-0 at the Dragão in league play.
Apart from their 1-0 defeat to Porto in the second leg of the Taça semis, Sporting have failed to find the back on just three occasions since the start of October – their two Round of 16 Champions League matches against Manchester City and a 2-0 defeat to Benfica in the league. They have been a consistent goalscoring threat under Rúben Amorim and have scored 6 goals in their first two matches – level with Porto and Braga – after drawing 3-3 to Braga and beating Rio Ave 3-0. Despite Spanish winger Pablo Sarabia returning to Paris Saint-Germain following a productive loan spell in Lisbon, and despite their lack of options at the center forward position, Sporting’s attack remains a force to be reckoned with under Amorim, with Nuno Santos and Pedro Porro providing ample dynamism from the wing-back positions and combining with Pedro Gonçalves, Marcus Edwards, and Francisco Trincão in attack. In many ways, this lack of a traditional center forward following Paulinho’s injury could be a blessing in disguise for Sporting and force Amorim to experiment with a fluid attack with the front three exchanging positions and wreaking havoc against a Porto defensive pairing of Pepe (39) and Iván Marcano (35). I’m expecting Sporting to find the back of the net at the Dragão, and I’m expecting the hosts to penetrate a Sporting side that has conceded 10 goals in its last five matches against Benfica, Porto and Braga.
Mehdi Taremi to Score Anytime
Mehdi Taremi left Asia for Europe for the first time at 27 years old, joining Portuguese side Rio Ave and getting his first start on August 23, 2019, where he would score a hat-trick in a 5-1 win against Aves; one week later, Taremi won three penalties – all of them committed by Sporting’s Uruguayan defender Sebastián Coates as Rio Ave erased a two-goal deficit and scored two goals in the final 10 minutes to snatch a 3-2 win in Lisbon. The Iranian forward finished atop the Primeira Liga’s scoring charts with 18 goals – level with Benfica’s Pizzi and Carlos Vinícius – and led Rio Ave to a fifth-place finish and Europa League qualification, earning a move to Porto the following summer. After a slow start to life at the Dragão, Taremi caught fire in the second half of the 2020/21 campaign and finished with 23 goals and 18 assists in all competitions, including a Puskas-nominated bicycle kick goal against the eventual Champions League winners Chelsea. The following season saw Taremi finish in double figures in goals and assists with 26 goals and 17 assists, forming a dynamic duo in attack with Brazilian striker Evanilson who racked up 21 and 5 himself and providing an unstoppable firepower in attack that saw Porto win a second domestic double in three years under Sérgio Conceição, as well as Taremi’s first silverware in Europe.
Porto’s first major test following the sale of Colombian winger Luis Díaz to Liverpool came on February 11 at the Dragão – Paulinho opened the scoring within eight minutes whilst Nuno Santos made it two in the 34th minute. Taremi would set up Fábio Vieira four minutes later as Porto halved the deficit, and with 12 minutes remaining in regular time, Vieira found Taremi for the equalizing goal that saw Porto secure a 2-2 draw and remain six points ahead of the defending champions, with Pepe seeing red for Porto in extra time and Bruno Tabata and João Palhinha also being sent off in the final minutes. Sporting, for the third straight time against Porto that season, would take the lead within 49 minutes of their Taça de Portugal semifinal, only for Taremi to equalize from the spot at the hour-mark and set up Evanilson for the go-ahead goal minutes later to secure a 2-1 win in Lisbon. Porto would win the second leg 1-0 to progress to the Taça de Portugal Final, where Taremi scored a brace against an already-relegated Tondela side in a 3-1 win.
The Iranian has picked up where he left off with a brace in a 3-0 win against Tondela in the Supertaça and a brace in the 5-1 win against Marítimo, and I’m expecting to add to his tally against Sporting as he looks to go level with Pedro Gonçalves and Simon Banza (3 goals) atop the league’s scoring charts and keep Porto atop the table and open a five-point gap on their rivals. The rock-solid Sporting defense of 2020/21 that saw them concede 20 goals in 34 matches is no longer, with the team conceding 10 goals in preseason, conceding 3 in an opening day draw to Braga as well as losing 2-1 to Braga, 2-0 to Benfica and 3-2 to Santa Clara since the start of the year. I’m backing Taremi to find the back of the net against a Sporting defense that is up to a long day at the Dragão.
Pedro Porro to be Shown a Card
Since the start of 2021, Porto and Sporting have faced off against each other on six occasions. Sporting won the first of those six, followed by three draws and two wins for Porto. Three of those occasions saw Pedro Porro receive a yellow card. The only exceptions? March 27, 2021, when Porro avoided yellow in a rather tranquil Clássico that featured just three cautions and that saw the two teams grind out a 0-0 draw, and February 11, 2022, when Porro missed the clash altogether due to an accumulation of yellow cards – his replacement, Ricardo Esgaio, would see yellow in a fiery clash that saw a total of nine yellow cards as well as four players sent off. The other exception came in their most recent fixture, the second leg of the Taça de Portugal semifinals, on April 21, 2022. After winning the first leg 2-1, Toni Martínez gave Porto a late opening goal to stretch their lead to two goals; six minutes later, after being caught high up the pitch, Porro raced back to stop a potential counter before deciding to place his cleat directly into Wenderson Galeno’s ankle. The challenge was completely unnecessary – Gonçalo Inácio was tracking Galeno’s run – but after 88 minutes of futile attacks and cup elimination staring them in the face, it seems Porro’s nerves got the best of him.
Since joining from Manchester City in the summer of 2020, Porro has emerged as one of finest young right wingbacks in Europe under the tutelage of Rúben Amorim, but between his attack-minded nature that often leaves him exposed on the counter and his fiery temper, he has been prone to the occasional booking. The 2020/21 campaign saw him receive a total of eight bookings for Sporting – most of which came in high-pressure scenarios. The first came on October 1, 2020 as Sporting were eliminated in the Europa League qualifiers by LASK Linz in a 4-1 defeat, two of them came against Braga, one of them against Porto, and one in a 1-1 draw to Famalicão. The 2021/22 campaign would see him receive 10 bookings for Sporting as well as his first expulsion for the club, with one yellow coming against Porto, one coming against Benfica, and two in the club’s Champions League fixtures against Borussia Dortmund and Besiktas. I’m expecting Brazilian winger Pepê to give Porro a tough time defensively, and I’m expecting the young Spaniard to add to his collection of bookings vs. Porto.
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How to watch Porto v Sporting CP in the Primeira Liga?
📅 When is Porto v Sporting CP? / Saturday 20th August 2022, 20:30
🏟 Where is Porto v Sporting CP? / Estadio do Dragao (Porto)
📺 What TV channel is Porto v Sporting CP on? / BT Sport 1 🟨 …And who is the referee for Porto v Sporting CP? / Nuno Almeida 🇵🇹