On the last round of this Champions League’s qualification stage, last season’s Portuguese league 3rd place will face off against Romanian league 2nd placed team.
This will be the 1st leg of this round, with the Portuguese team hosting the Romanians.
The Lions go into this match as clear favourites, not only to win this match, but also to go through and qualify for the UCL’s group stage, which should put them under a bit more pressure.
Jorge Jesus’ squad will make their first official match on the international stage this season, looking to ensure their entry on the Champions League’s group stage.
Something that didn’t happen in these last two seasons, after they got eliminated last season against CSKA Moscow on this same qualifying round.
The team goes into this match with 2 wins on their last 2 official matches, both for Liga NOS, beating Aves and Vitória Setúbal. But they still haven’t convinced me so far.
On the Romanian side, the vice-champions are preparing for their 9th official match this season, and their 3rd official European match so far, having started these official matches a month earlier than their opponents.
They arrive on this Champions League’s play-offs after eliminating Viktoria Plzen, winning 6-3 on aggregate and battering the Czechs on their own ground in the 2nd leg, which confirmed their ticket to these play-offs.
Sporting vs Steaua Bucharest Pick:
Sporting has shown, in their 2 official matches played so far, that they still have a long way to go in terms of evolution of their game process, intermeshing, physical condition, etc.
Steaua on the other hand, are on a more advanced stage of their season, so they are already showing more progress on those levels. Considering the importance of this match for the Lisbon team, and despite the defensive weaknesses that they still show.
Ibelieve that the team is more solid on this match, on those same defensive processes, since they are playing at home (and we all know how fatal an away goal can be in these 2-legged affairs).
This way, I expect a Sporting that will be focused on winning, but without pressuring their opponents too hard, to avoid the risk of conceding a goal at home.
They will be looking to take a good result to Bucharest, but especially trying not to concede here. This way, I expect a low-scoring affair here.