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Sporting CP vs. Tottenham Hotspur Preview: A prime opportunity for a strong Champions League start

Spurs have the rare opportunity for back-to-back Champions League victories without any match in between.

Tottenham Hotspur v Olympique Marseille: Group D - UEFA Champions League Photo by Vincent Mignott/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

There was not much rust for Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League, as the return to the highest competition came with a 2-0 victory over Marseille last Wednesday. Spurs now travel to Lisbon to take on Sporting CP, who also sits on three points after besting Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany.

This is a bit of a unique situation as Tottenham’s trip to Manchester was called off over the weekend, leaving the club with consecutive Champions League fixtures without anything in between. Even without the postponement it was going to feel a bit different with the already condensed schedule thanks to the World Cup, but the current state of affairs only heightens this irregularity.

Sporting should provide a good test, especially on the road; FiveThirtyEight ranks the Portuguese side 20th globally, second-best in Group D. A win is far from guaranteed, but it would put Tottenham in great position after the first two-week block of the Group Stage. With all of the fixture congestion that lies ahead, having that strong start would be a huge benefit in the future.

Sporting CP (t-1st, 3pts) vs. Tottenham Hotspur (t-1st, 3pts)

Date: Tuesday, September 13
Time: 12:45 pm ET, 5:45 pm UK
Location: José Alvalade Stadium, Lisbon, Portugal
TV: Paramount+ (USA), BT Sport 4

Despite the 0-3 victory, Sporting did not necessarily dominate Eintracht, actually losing the xG battle. This is another opponent who will look to press, but that does not ensure it will lead to any real threat. It would not be entirely surprising to see this match play out similarly to last week, as Marseille showed the aggression and desire for the ball yet created very few opportunities.

If there are goal-scoring chances they are likely to come from old friend Marcus Edwards. The Spurs academy product joined Sporting in the winter and has been a consistent presence in the lineup. He already has six goals and five assists in 20 matches with his new club, including one of each in the Champions League last week.

Recent results:

  • No prior meetings

On the visitors’ side, the focus is squarely on Richarlison, who looks undroppable at the moment. His brace against Marseille was the difference, but his impact this season was clear even before bagging his first goal(s) at Spurs. Antonio Conte has the luxury of four great attackers but the challenge of figuring out how to best deploy them.

With nearly a week off between matches, just about everyone is rested and capable of playing. The midfield continues to be the biggest source of frustration for supporters, but Conte is unlikely to move off the midfield two, so it becomes a question of how best to utilize the squad to work around that. There are only so many personnel swaps that can be made, but perhaps getting some more attacking production out of the right wingback spot would help.

Sporting is not exactly dominating domestically, with a modest 3-1-2 start in the league including a 0-3 loss to Porto. While last week’s results and global rankings should lead to this opponent to be taken seriously, Spurs need to see this as a great opportunity. Winning on the road is always tough in the Champions League, but coming home with six points through two matches would be an excellent place to be.