Sporting CP will face off against Midtjylland at the Jose Alvalade Stadium on Thursday night for the UEFA Europa League knockout playoffs. The Liga Portugal giants are having an underwhelming season after losing three of their last four matches in the UEFA Champions League group stage, which has demoted them to the second-tier European competition. Domestically, Sporting are placed fourth in the league and have struggled to show prolonged consistency, thus impairing their challenge for the Liga Portugal title and chances of Champions League football next season. Therefore, progressing deep in the UEFA Europa League is Sporting’s best shot at giving their fans something to cheer about.
Midtjylland, on the other hand, finished second in their Europa League group to qualify for the knockout playoffs. They won, drew, and lost two matches each. The Danish Superliga team aren’t having a great season themselves. They currently occupy the seventh spot in the league and are winless in their last four matches. While Midtjylland are the underdogs on paper, they will be aware of Sporting’s inconsistent performances this season and will look to stage an upset. Below, we look at the stats of both teams from the current season to comprehend how this matchup could play out.
Overall performances of both teams
The viz above shows the percentile rank of both teams’ stats compared to each other as well as to other teams in the 2022–23 season of European competitions. Both teams outperform each other in a few departments, even though the disparity between the level of competition in the two leagues can be considered. Notably, the hosts have the upper hand in terms of goals per 90, accurate passes, possession rate, and high press success rate. Alternatively, the visitors have superior stats in areas such as xG per 90, shots, key passes, final third entries, and recoveries.
Sporting Lisbon have taken a total of 43 shots in six UCL matches and scored eight goals. They scored all but one of the goals from close range inside the penalty box, accumulating 4.83 xG in total. The xG map above shows the Liga Portugal side has attempted most of their shots inside the box but has also shown the desire to shoot accurately from a distance. Sporting have scored 1.33 goals per match, averaging an xG of 0.81. They have taken 7.17 shots per match with a 48.8% accuracy rate.
Alternatively, Midtjylland have taken 58 shots in total and scored only 12 goals with an xG tally of 7.22 (excluding penalties). They have also missed one penalty. The Danish side scored a few of the goals from inside the six-yard box and one from a long-range effort from very far out. They scored at the rate of 1.46 goals per match while averaging 1.93 xG. Midtjylland attempts ten shots per match with 41.7% accuracy.
Forward passing ability
The two viz above compare both teams based on progressive passes. While both teams use the flanks significantly to move the ball forward, Midtjylland have delivered more forward passes and crosses into the box compared to Sporting. The hosts average 60 progressive passes per match with 62.2% accuracy compared to the 62.83 such passes with 60.5% accuracy by the visitors. Both teams are neck-and-neck in terms of possession rate, with the hosts averaging 46.94% possession per match against Midtjylland’s 47.12%. Overall, Sporting attempts 412.5 passes per match with an accuracy of 84.7%, with Midtjylland attempting 382 passes with an accuracy of 80.2%.
Meanwhile, the two viz above compare both teams based on their ability to regain possession high up the pitch. Both teams are neck-and-neck, with Sporting having 41 high regains compared to 40 high regains by Midtjylland. However, the visitors have made more recoveries inside the box compared to the hosts, with three of them leading to a shot, eventually. Overall, Sporting makes 77.5 recoveries per match, compared to the 78 recoveries made by Midtjylland.
Marcus Edwards has chipped in with some strong performances for Sporting this season. Apart from his ten goal-contributions in the league, he has also scored two goals and provided two assists for Sporting in Europe. On his day, he can be lethal against any opposition with his speed, ball control, and accurate shooting. Midtjylland will be hoping it’s not one of those days when they face off against Marcus Edwards’ team.
Gustav Isaksen has been one of the top players for Midtjylland this season. He has fared decently in the domestic league and is the team’s top contributor in the Europa League 2022–23 with three goals and two assists. The Danish winger brings a genuine threat from the right wing as he delivers crosses and beats opposition players with his immaculate dribbling. Sporting defenders will have the job of nullifying Isaksen’s presence on the flank to achieve a positive result.
Sporting CP are expected to be without the injured trio of Hidemasa Morita, Dario Essugo, and Daniel Braganca. Apart from these three players, the remainder of the Sporting squad should be ready to play.
Meanwhile, Midtjylland has no reported injuries in their squad but will miss the services of Erik Sviatchenko due to his suspension. Other than the centre-back, the rest of the Midtjylland players will be available for selection.
Sporting vs. Midtjylland is one of the important fixtures of the UEFA Europa League knockout playoffs. The stats indicate the hosts should be favourites to win this tie over both legs. Sporting will get the advantage of playing at home in the first leg and will be motivated to give their best performance and carry a broad advantage into the return fixture. Midtjylland, on the other hand, will come with its own game plan and look to remain in contention until the second leg.
Visuals via TFA data viz engine