Thursday, July 18, 2024

The Latest Football News and Opinions From 90 Minutes Online

Hardly a five-star five-nil

I’ll start by blowing my own trumpet. 

 

After their victory over Benfica I wrote: “Sporting…put on a performance that makes you think you should reassess their chances against Bayern Munich on Wednesday. However, two seconds of reasoned thinking tells you that they’re going to get panned.” 

 

And they duly got their panning. A 5-0 one.  

 

 

But I have to say that they didn’t deserve it. 

 

Even though Paulo Bento fielded a side that reeked of “we’re keeping our best players back for the game against Porto at the weekend because we have a chance of winning the Liga Sagres but absolutely no chance of winning the Champions League,” the Lions hardly looked five goals worse than Bayern, or should I say Franck Ribery. 

 

The Frenchman scored two and made two, but the game was hardly a drubbing.Sporting were their own worst enemies, undoing themselves with the kind of shocking defending that usually goes unpunished in their domestic league.  

 

Luca Toni’s two goals were given to him particularly easily. How he was allowed to reach his header or get a second crack for his tap in during the closing minutes will probably still be amusing him now.

 

On top of that Ribery was lucky that the ball ran for him for his first goal, and Klose's goal was offside.

 

Still, both goals were sloppily defended, so don’t think this result is a sign of Bayern steamrollering towards the final. They didn’t look overwhelming against underwhelming opposition.

 

As for Sporting, they’re out already, but Bento evidently knew that they would be anyway. Yet leaving two of your most consistent players, Vukčević and Grimi, on the bench for the home leg of a tie where you know you’ve lost the away leg before you’ve played it could prove to be the kind of perverse stroke of genius that Bento seems adept at making.

 

Porto’s impressive display against Atletico on Tuesday night, tied in with their trip to Spain, has more than likely left them knackered. Sporting meanwhile will be relatively fresh having hardly exerted themselves at home and rested a few players in the process.

 

If Sporting win on Saturday they’ll be just one point behind Porto, and with Porto likely to be competing in the Champions League for at least another round Sporting could be ready to charge to domestic glory for the first time in seven years.

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