WORLD football fanatic James O'Rourke (@JamesOR1) has scoured the planet for his best bets this weekend and bring us his best six plays from across the world. Here he previews Sporting's visit to Guimares where he thinks there could be goals for each side.
See James' other previews for the weekend here;
- Karlsruher v Braunschweig | Saturday 22nd December 2018, 13:00
- PSV Eindhoven v AZ Alkmaar | Saturday 22nd December 2018, 18:45
- Standard Liege v Oostende | Saturday 22nd December 2018, 19:30
- Aue v Union Berlin | Sunday 23rd December 2018, 12:30
- Porto v Rio Ave | Sunday 23rd December 2018, 15:00
- Guimaraes v Sporting Lisbon | Sunday 23rd December 2018, 20:00
Guimaraes v Sporting Lisbon | Sunday 23rd December 2018, 20:00
Our second trip to Portugal before Christmas will see us run the rule over Guimaraes versus Sporting Lisbon, which on paper looks like it should be quite an entertaining contest. A bit like the Porto and Rio Ave match, this game will see one of the better sides in Portugal face one of those that deserve respect, but aren’t quite of the same calibre. Sporting however clearly have the tougher weekend game when that they are away from home. Sporting have only won two of the last five head-to-head as well, so they need to turn up with their A Game for sure.
Guimaraes did start the campaign in rather stuttering fashion, but they have certainly recovered since then. They last lost in the league in late September and they’ve suffered just the one home league defeat this season as well. A passionate crowd will be in attendance as Guimaraes look to get one over one of the top sides in the league, and they certainly have a chance.
Now Sporting Lisbon have had some shaky times themselves in recent times, certainly off the pitch. The well-known episode where fans broke into the training ground and then players demanded to leave certainly portrayed the club in a negative light entering the season. They have already changed manager, but former Ajax boss Marcel Keizer is starting to really get them rolling. They go into the weekend two points behind league leaders Porto and also into the next stage of the UEFA Europa League.
It will come as no shock to see Sporting as the favourites this weekend. Whilst this is a difficult away assignment, the reality is that they should beat a side like Guimaraes if they play to their best. That is a very real possibility given their recent form as well. Keizer has certainly made them play some excellent football of late, and scoring goals is no concern. They are actually the top scorers in the Primeira Liga, with the goals of Dutch striker Bas Dost and the creativity of Nani certainly contributing towards that.
A risk to backing Sporting is that their away record is not the best. They only have a 50% win ratio on the road, which certainly has to improve if they’re to seriously challenge for the title. However, they did win 3-1 away to Rio Ave in their most recent away assignment, and they sit sixth in the table. Guimaraes certainly won’t approach this game looking to get bodies behind the ball and be hard to beat. They will have a go, and this should suit Sporting more than if they had to break down a stubborn opponent.
A statistic why took my eye is that 83% of Sporting’s away league games has witnessed both teams scoring. Guimaraes have only failed to score in 15% of their league clashes as well, so goals do look on the agenda this weekend.
Sporting Lisbon however are really scoring goals for fun at the moment. They’ve scored 12 in their last three league games combined, and if that average is maintained, then Guimaraes could feel the full force on Sunday night.
Sporting are yet to keep a clean sheet away, but Keizer obviously won’t have managed all of those games. They have definitely improved under his management, but this is still a tough game for them.
However, it is one we back them to come through, but not without a scare. Sporting Lisbon To Win and Both Teams To Score is an attractive 13/5 (888Sport).
Sporting Lisbon To Win and Both Teams To Score 13/5 (888Sport)