Our prediction for this Europa League match:
A place in the Europa League quarter-finals will be at stake when Arsenal and Sporting CP face each other at Emirates Stadium on Thursday evening. The Gunners are enjoying a Premier League season to remember, with the team leading the chase for the domestic trophy, but they have big ambitions for the Europa League knockout stages as well. There are no fresh injury worries in the home team, but Egypt midfielder Elneny remain in the recovery room. Eddie Nketiah should recover in time to face the Lions, but he is likely to start from the bench.
The visitors, meanwhile, did well to hold Arsenal to a 2-2 draw in Lisbon, but they will have a much bigger fish to fry in London. Since Arsenal impressed in a 3-0 victory over Fulham at the weekend, home win should be considered. The good news for the Primeira Liga outfit is that midfielder Manuel Ugarte is back from suspension.
Highlighted Player (Granit Xhaka):
Granit Xhaka is widely regarded as one of Europe’s most talented central midfielders at the moment and he is on the radar of quite a few high-profile sides. Just two seasons at FC Basel proved enough to attract interest from Borussia M’gladbach, who secured his signature in the summer of 2012.
The Switzerland international had a slow start to his career in Germany, causing many pundits to start doubting his credentials, but he eventually turn things around to show he is more than capable of playing at the highest level. Acting as a deep-lying playmaker, Xhaka impressed fans and pundits alike with his performances in Bundesliga and European competitions, and he even managed to score a couple of important goals in the process.
Despite his fragile age, the highly regarded footballer has been a key member of the Switzerland national team for quite some time now, scoring 6 goals in his first 40 caps to establish himself as a real leader of the Rossocrociati. The 2014 World Cup, where he scored one goal in four starts, should prove just the first of many major tournaments to come.
Highlighted Team (Sporting):
When it comes to official club members, Portugal giants Sporting Lisbon are the sixth club in the world. Commonly referred to as Leoes which is Portuguese for Lions, Sporting Lisbon were founded in 1906 and are one of the founders of the Primeira Liga.
Sporting’s main rivals are Benfica, with both teams contesting the Lisbon Derby, one of the most fierce ones in Europe. Lions play their games at Estadio Jose Alvelade in front of 50,000 people and are the third most successful club in the country with 46 titles in Portuguese competitions and a title in the European Cup Winner’s Cup from 1963-64.
During this time that is also known as the club’s golden years, Sporting Lisbon won the majority of their 18 Primeira Liga titles in total. Sporting Lisbon boasts the quality football youth academy system which has yielded world-class footballers such as Paulo Furte, Simao Sabrosa, Nani and Ballon d’Or winners Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo.