Sporting CP will face stiff competition in Liga Portugal 2022/23 in their pursuit of glory. The side managed by Ruben Amorim endured a disappointing start to the season following the departure of key players Matheus Nunes and Joao Palhinha. They are currently fourth in the league table, 14 points behind the leaders, arch-rivals Benfica. The Lions have won eight, drawn one, and lost four matches—far from the consistency shown by them in recent seasons.
Sporting’s 2022–23 Champions League run also ended in the group stage after they finished third. Despite victories over Tottenham and Eintracht Frankfurt in their first two games, the Lions suffered three defeats and a draw in their remaining four games. The good news is that the season still has a long way to go and the team has gained some momentum after an unsteady start. Sporting is within touching distance of Porto and Braga, who are second and third in the domestic league, respectively. They will also want to progress deep into the knockout stages of the Europa League. Thus, we will look at some of the stats to understand how the team from Lisbon can turn around their season into a successful one.
Overview of Sporting Lisbon performances this season
With four wins in their last five league matches, Sporting CP is in decent form and seems to have recovered from the shaky start to their campaign. They have scored 26 goals in 13 matches and conceded 15. The above viz shows the percentile rank of the team in attacking, defensive, and possession stats compared to other teams in Liga Portugal. Ruben Amorim’s men rank highly in the attacking and possession stats and are doing well in making entries into the opposition penalty area and unlocking key passes. However, their defensive displays tell a different story. They will want to improve on the shortcomings that are apparent in areas like ball recoveries and successful pressures.
The 26 goals scored by Sporting are the fourth highest in the league. Their average of 2.0 goals per game slightly exceeds their xG of 1.9 per match. The above viz shows the shot map of the team in the current season. We can observe that the Green and Whites have scored the majority of their goals from in and around the 6-yard box. They average 16.54 shots per match, with 34% of them landing on target. The reason for the team’s success in front of the goal is because of the high intensity of shots taken from dangerous areas inside the penalty box.
Amorim’s side has been impressive in the attacking department due to their high-intensity approach. Their desire to press opponents and win possession in the final third has resulted in 169 high regains. Most of the 65 dangerous recoveries they have made have been in the attacking third. The team has also made a few dangerous recoveries inside the opposition penalty box, leading to a shot on eleven occasions.
After a season of injury struggles resulting in declining performances, Pedro Goncalves has regained his scoring touch in Liga Portugal this season. The Portuguese attacker has scored seven goals and provided three assists in 13 appearances in the league. He has taken 36 shots with an accuracy rate of almost 42% and is his side’s leading goalscorer thus far. A right-footed attacker, he has often been deployed on the left side of Sporting’s attack, from where he tends to cut inside to register an attempt on goal. Goncalves will once again have to be the key player for Sporting if they are to have a successful campaign. He will hope to replicate his prolific form from two seasons ago, when he was the league’s top scorer.
Slight deficiencies in defence
The 15 goals conceded by Ruben Amorim’s men are the most among the league’s top seven teams. They concede an average of 1.15 goals per game, which exceeds their current xGA of 0.98. The team has also struggled to keep clean sheets, with only four so far in 13 matches. Sporting has shown gradual signs of improvement in the defensive departments after starting the season with a draw and two consecutive losses in their first four matches. The departure of some key players weakened the starting lineup, which is why they brought in reinforcements like Pedro Porro and Hidemasa Morita. The above viz depicts the team’s defensive territory in Liga Portugal 22/23. Sporting gives up 13.2 fouls per match and makes around 8.1 interceptions per game, currently the second-lowest. They have shown the tendency to commit fouls in their defensive third, resulting in three penalties conceded.
The 22 shots blocked by Sporting put them fourth from the bottom in terms of the metric. Being a big club in their league, they do not concede as many shots as some of the weaker teams. Credit must also be given to the manager’s 3-4-3 formation, which utilises three mobile defenders. However, the Sporting defenders have made some crucial blocks in their penalty box. Sebastian Coates, Goncalo Inacio, and Manuel Ugarte have been the key performers in Sporting’s defence. While Coates leads the charge with eight important blocks, Ugarte tops the team’s interception charts with 18, followed by Inacio with 16. This shows the players’ commitment towards improving their defensive outputs and carrying their team towards success.
Threat from the attacking wingback
The acquisition of Pedro Porro has been a revelation for the Lions this season. He has made an instantaneous impact on the results of the team, nailing down a spot in the starting eleven in the process. The 23-year-old has provided four assists from the right wingback position, where he likes to bomb forward into the final third. He has 67 penetrating carries, the majority of them into the opposition’s penalty area. Porro, who is equally adept with both feet, demonstrates a proclivity for attacking spaces inside and outside the penalty area from wide positions.
Sporting CP has struggled to display the same levels of consistency shown in the previous two seasons. They have recovered from their bad start to 2022/23 and will be aiming for the high standards they have set. The experienced Sebastian Coates leads Sporting’s defence alongside Goncalo Inacio and Matheus Reis. While Manuel Ugarte and Hidemasa Morita have been key in the midfield, Pedro Goncalves and Marcus Edwards have led from the front. Ruben Amorim will be hoping these players stay at the top of their game to ensure domestic success and Champions League qualification.
Visuals via TFA data viz engine