4th of April 2018 Author: Johnny Karp
Big clash in the Iberian Peninsula on Thursday as Atletico Madrid host Sporting at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League quarter-finals tie. The two teams have met in the same competition back in 2010 and Atletico Madrid pulled through on away goals after a goalless draw in Spain and a 2-2 draw in Lisbon. Atletico Madrid have won eight of their eighteen matches against Portuguese teams in European competitions, while Sporting have defeated Spanish teams just six times in 24 matches.
Atletico Madrid might see their elimination from the Champions League as a blessing in disguise at this point, because they have a real chance of winning the Europa League now. They cruised past FC Copenhagen and Lokomotiv Moscow in the previous two rounds and they seem capable of going all the way. Last week they grabbed a 1-0 victory over Deportivo La Coruna in LaLiga to consolidate their second place behind Barcelona. Filipe Luis is injured and won't be able to play on Thursday, while Juanfran and Jose Gimenez might recover in time.
Sporting have also landed in the Europa League after having failed to qualify from the Champions League group stage, but they were not expected to qualify considering they had been in the same group as Barcelona and Juventus. They survived a pretty big scare in the previous round as they nearly got knocked out by Viktoria Plzen. Sporting had won the first leg 2-0 in Lisbon, but then Plzen fought back and sent the second leg into extra-time before Sporting were able to score the winning goal.
Atletico Madrid: Oblak - Vrsaljko, Savic, Godin, Hernandez - Correa, Partey, Niguez, Koke - Costa, Griezmann
Sporting: Patricio - Piccini, Pinto, Mathieu, Coentrao - Fernandes, Battaglia - Martins, Ruiz, Acuna - Dost
My prediction: Atletico Madrid to win 2-0.
Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:
Atletico win - 1.30
Draw - 5.50
Sporting win - 13.00
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