UEFA Europa League: Sporting vs Atletico Madrid preview


Atletico Madrid will try to seal their qualification to the last four when they visit Sporting at Jose Alvalade Stadium on Thursday for the second leg of their UEFA Europa League quarter-finals tie. The Spanish side won the first leg 2-0 last week thanks to first-half goals from Koke and Antoine Griezmann, and the result deeply unsettled the atmosphere at Sporting. That was the first victory for Atletico against Sporting after the two previous meetings had ended in draws.

The 2-0 loss at Atletico was followed by rough statements from Sporting president and some reports even claimed that he had decided to suspend a few senior first-team members. That eventually did not happen as Sporting bounced back with a 2-0 league victory over Ferreira at the weekend, but the whole matter was not clarified at all. Sporting will miss two key players in Thursday's match anyway, left-back Fabio Coentrao and striker Bas Dost are suspended, while Daniel Podence and William Carvalho have injury issues.

Atletico Madrid had a pretty good week, first they defeated Sporting 2-0 on Thursday and then on Sunday they managed to clinch a 1-1 draw in the derby against Real Madrid. That result practically hands the LaLiga title to leaders Barcelona, but Atletico can be very confident of finishing second now. Atletico have lost just one of their last seven matches in all competitions. Filipe Luis remains injured for the away side, while Jose Gimenez and Sime Vrsaljko are fitness doubts for head coach Diego Simeone.

Probable line-ups:

Sporting: Patricio - Piccini, Coates, Mathieu, Cesar - Wendel, Battaglia - Martins, Fernandes, Ruiz - Montero

Atletico: Oblak - Juanfran, Savic, Godin, Hernandez - Correa, Gabi, Niguez, Koke - Costa, Griezmann

My prediction: Atletico Madrid to win 1-0.

Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:

Sporting win - 5.25
Draw - 3.39
Atletico win - 1.85

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