Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea finally lost their first game this season against Newcastle United, after a run of 23 matches unbeaten in all competitions. Having already qualified for the round of 16 in the Champions League, as winners of Group G, they face a Sporting Lisbon side in their final group game that need at least a point to ensure progress themselves lest they let Schalke 04 condemn them to Europa League with a win in Slovenia against Maribor.
The Portuguese club find themselves on seven points, two ahead of Schalke and with a goal difference that is eight better than the German side. Chelsea have dropped points at the Stamford Bridge just once all season and that was in the first Champions League game of the season, when Klaas Jan Huntelaar stole a deserved point and even if they field a weakened team on Wednesday, Sporting Lisbon face an uphill task to book their name in the draw for the next round on Monday.
Nathan Aké remains continues to be sidelined with a hamstring injury.
Ramires returned from a thigh injury to make the bench against Newcastle United but he hasn’t completed more than 60 minutes since September, when Chelsea drew 1-1 at the Etihad.
Manchester United loanee Nani had to come off after just half an hour after injuring his right thigh in Sporting’s 3-1 win over Boavista over the weekend and will miss his side’s crucial trip to London.
Defender Cedric will a serve a one match suspension after collecting his third yellow card in just five games when he got booked against Maribor in their last Champions League game.
Chelsea: 4-2-3-1: Cech; Andreas Christensen, Zouma, Terry, Filipe Luis; Mikel, Ramires; Salah, Willian, Schurrle; Remy
Sporting Lisbon: 4-3-3: Patricio; Soares, Oliveira, Sarr, Jefferson; Silva, Carvalho, Mario; Montero, Slimani, Carrillo
- Jose Mourinho hasn’t lost a single game against Sportinh as a manager, with five wins and two draws with Benfica, UD Leiria and Porto FC.
- Chelsea have registered seven wins in their last seven games against Portuguese opponents, all by a single goal margin.
- Chelsea have scored in 21 of their last 22 matches this season with the 0-0 draw against Sunderland 10 days back the only anomaly.
- Sporting CP have won their last four matches in all competitions scoring 14 goals and conceding just two.
- Sporting CP lost 3-2 at the Etihad three seasons back though they progressed to the quarterfinals of the Europa League with a 1-0 home win.
- Sporting CP have won just two of their last 10 games in England, losing six and drawing the other two.
- Sporting CP have won just one of their last 17 away games in Europe losing ten of those matches, the 2-0 win coming in Russia against FC Zurich back in 2011/12.
- Chelsea’s oldest player is Mark Schwarzer who is 42, while Sporting’s 30-year-old Marcelo Boeck is the oldest in their squad.
Chelsea won the only previous meeting between the two sides with Nemanja Matic heading in the only goal of the match in which the English side dominated.
The Brazilian winger missed a couple of great chances against Newcastle United at the weekend and will be looking to make up for those misses with a solid display against Sporting CP. The winger has the best final third pass accuracy in the Premier League this season with 91.1% of his passes finding a teammate in that zone, ahead of Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas. Along with Oscar, he has been an important cog in Mourinho’s system as the pair work their socks off to help out Chelsea defensively. With 2.2 key passes and 2 dribbles per game in the Champions League, Willian will be a threat to any hopes Sporting Lisbon harbour of getting the point they require to practically make sure of their qualification to the next round.
Sporting Lisbon: Islam Slimani
Slimani is the club’s top scorer with six goals from just eight league starts this season along with two goals in Champions League continuing from an impressive World Cup campaign in which he netted twice for Algeria. With Nani out injured, the goal scoring onus will rest on the 26-year-old who has had 1.8 shots per game along with 1.6 key passes per game in the five Champions League games. With Chelsea expected to field young Kurt Zouma in central defence, the Sporting number 9 will be relishing his chance to get on the score sheet in London.
Sporting Lisbon will have a tough time even bagging a point at Stamford Bridge with Chelsea looking to bounce back with a win after their unbeaten run was abruptly ended at Tyneside at the weekend. Therefore, the Portuguese side will have to rely on Maribor who themselves will be gunning for a win in order to claim a Europa League berth.