Sporting vs Astana – Thursday, February 15, 18:00 GMT/19:00 CET – Estádio José Alvalade, Lisbon, Portugal.
After losing 3-1 at home in the Astana Arena FC Astana’s European campaign is all but over. The club from Kazakhstan capital had a good start to the game with Marian Tomasov scoring the early lead for Kazakhs, but Sporting showed all their European experience scoring three unanswered goals.
To make matters worse defender Yuri Logvinenko was sent off with two yellow cards. Overall, however, the result in Kazakhstan was perhaps a bit too high for the travelling Portuguese side. Astana played cultured football and seemed to threaten Sporting even with the man down.
In the end, it was likely the lack of experience at this stage and, the fact, which this was Astana’s first competitive game in 2018. With the club still in season preparation for the 2018 Kazakh Premier League season—their first league game will not be played until March 11.
Astana’s head coach Stanimir Stoilov will therefore likely use this game as another pre-season preparation match. Sporting in the meantime will try to wrap this up as quickly as possible. The Portuguese are in the middle of their league campaign and are still involved in the domestic cup competition as well. With this in mind expect a game that will have a bit of friendly game atmosphere with Sporting walking away as the likely winners.
Sporting vs Astana – Player to look out for:
Gelson Martins #77 – Sporting
Gelson Martins could become the latest talent to move from Portugal to a big club this summer. Linked to clubs like Bayern München, where he is on the list to replace Arjen Robben in the medium-term, Gelson Martins is now worth €30 million, but will likely command a much bigger transfer fee. Lightning fast the winger has already scored five goals and six assists in 20 games this season.
Patrick Twumasi #23 – Astana
With Kabananga gone Patrick Twumasi is Astana’s only true star. The forward was linked with a move away from Astana throughout the winter break. Club’s like VfB Stuttgart and Spartak Moscow chose to go for different options instead, which means that the 23-year-old Ghanaian will remain in Kazakhstan for now. Immensely talented it will only be a matter of time, however, for Twumasi to find a new club.
Sporting vs Astana – Match Stats
- The first leg was the first ever encounter between the two sides.
- Astana took on Sporting’s city rivals Benfica in the 2015-16 UEFA Champions League. They made their group stage debut in Lisbon, losing 2-0 before drawing the return fixture 2-2 in Astana – letting slip a two-goal lead. Current players Patrick Twumasi and Marin Aničić scored the home team’s goals.
- At 6,171km, the journey from Astana to Sporting is one of the longest in European football.
- Sporting’s transfer from the UEFA Champions League means they have participated in seven of the nine UEFA Europa League campaigns. Only Ajax (eight appearances) have been involved in more.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Sporting vs Astana – 2-1
Sporting vs Astana – Possible Lineups
Patricio – Coentrão, Mathieu, Coates, Piccini – Carvalho, Fernandes – Acuna, Gelson Martins – Montero, Ruiz
Manager: Jorge Jesus
Eric – Shomko, Anicic, Maly, Shitov – Maevskiy, Grahovac – Tomasov, Kleinheisler, Twumasi – Despotovic
Manager: Stanimir Stoilov
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and social media editor at Bundesliga.com. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth. Or contact him via email: [email protected]