Our prediction for this Europa League match:
Sporting Lisbon will be aiming to kick off their Europa League campaign in style when they host Qarabag at their Estadio Jose Alvalade on Thursday evening. The Lions failed to win the national championship last season, but they are definitely capable of recording a good result in the Europa League this term. The Portuguese outfit produce much better displays at home than on the travels and they are considered hot favourites to win Thursday’s football match against Qarabag. The Azeri outfit, on the other hand, booked their place in the Europa League thanks to a win over Sheriff in the play-off, but seeing that the Lions are a real force to be reckoned with at home, we are not tempted to put our money on the underdogs. A man to watch in the home team will be Dutch international Dost, who is likely to prove a handful for the opposition back-line.
Highlighted Player (Nani):
Nani is a product of Sporting CP’s famous youth academy. The pacey winger played 58 games for the capital club in Primeira Liga, scoring nine goals and in 2007 he joined Premier League side Manchester United. He signed a five-year deal with the Old Trafford outfit for a fee of €25.5 million.
He joined his compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo at Man Utd and it has to be noted that Nani he spent eight seasons at the club. In 2014 he returned to Sporting (loan) and at the end of the 2014/2015 Primeira Liga campaign he moved to Turkish side Fenerbahce.
In 2016 he signed a three-year deal with Valencia for an undisclosed fee. Speaking of his international career, Nani did remarkably well to win the 2016 European Championship trophy with Portugal and it has to be noted that he started against France in the title game. The Portuguese winger won the 2007/2008 Champions League trophy with Manchester United.
Highlighted Team (Qarabag):
Over the years Qarabag have established themselves as one of the best teams in Azerbaijan. The club was founded in 1951 and they were playing under the name of Mehsul back then. Qarabag won their first trophy in the national championship in 1993, beating Khazar Sumgayit in the title game.
In the 2015/2016 season they won their fourth domestic trophy, with the team finishing the season 22 points clear of second-placed Zira. Qarabag participated in the 2016/2017 Champions League qualifiers, but they were more than unfortunate to suffer a loss to Viktoria Plzen in the two-legged tie. The Azerbaijan outfit were beaten by the Czechs on away goal rule and, as a result, they made it to the Europa League playoffs.
Thanks to a win over Goteborg in the double-header Qarabag made it to the knockout stages of the competition. The Horsemen play their home games at Azersun Arena and their home colours are black. Qarabag play their away games in white kits.