Arsenal have been drawn against Sporting CP in the last 16 of this season’s UEFA Europa League.
The Portuguese outfit will return to north London after playing against Tottenham in the group stages of what was ultimately an unsuccessful Champions League campaign, finishing third and having to beat Midtjylland over the last fortnight in the knockout round play-off to reach this stage.
Here’s everything you need to know about Sporting.
Young Uruguayan midfielder Manuel Ugarte has been one of Sporting’s brightest sparks in what’s been a pretty subpar season by their standards. The energetic 21-year-old has been linked with several top European sides during an outstanding breakout campaign.
Tottenham academy product Marcus Edwards scored against Arsenal’s north London rivals during the group stages of the Champions League, while he also grabbed a goal at the Emirates Stadium for Vitoria during the 2019/20 Europa League.
After Pedro Porro joined Tottenham on deadline day of the January transfer window, Sporting replaced him with ex-Arsenal favourite Hector Bellerin, who is set to return to N5 for the first time since leaving the club in 2021.
Sporting also have other great young prospects in winger Pedro Goncalves and centre-back Goncalo Inacio.
On this edition of The Chronicles of a Gooner, part of the 90min podcast network, Harry Symeou discusses Arsenal’s upcoming game against Leicester and the latest on Bukayo Saka’s contract. If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!
Sporting’s head coach is 38-year-old Ruben Amorim.
One of Europe’s youngest managers, Amorim spent most of his playing career at city rivals Benfica, while he won 14 caps for Portugal and was part of two World Cup squads.
Amorim began his management career with lower league side Casa Pia, before quickly moving on to Braga’s B side, eventually taking charge of the first team.
With only two months’ experience of top-flight management under his belt, Amorim was bought out of his contract by Sporting in 2020 by Sporting for €10m, making it one of the most expensive managerial transfers of all time.
In his first full season, Amorim delivered Sporting their first Portuguese league title in 19 years. He has since been linked to the likes of PSG and Tottenham.
As mentioned, things could be going better for Sporting.
They currently sit fourth in Liga Portugal, eight points behind third-placed Braga who occupy the final Champions League spot.
Sporting’s Champions League elimination was also disappointing – they needed just a point at home to Eintracht Frankfurt on matchday six to qualify for the knockout stages, but fell to a 2-1 defeat.
That said, they did take four points off of Spurs prior to elimination. This won’t be a walk in the park for an Arsenal team who will have one eye on the Premier League title race.
Leave a Reply