FC Astana vs Sporting CP Prediction, Preview, Lineups & Betting Tips
Sporting CP must march more than 6000km to face FC Astana in the Round of 32 first leg, when the home side becomes the first club from Kazakhstan to reach a UEFA knockout stage.
FC Astana is the first Kazakh side to participate in the knockout phase of a UEFA club competition. They claimed their position as runners-up to Villarreal in Group A, while Sporting CP dropped into the UEFA Europa League after finishing 3rd behind Barcelona and Juventus in their UEFA Champions League group.
There have been no previous meetings between both clubs. Meanwhile, Sporting CP have never faced opposition from Kazakhstan. FC Astana, on the other hand, have faced Sporting’s city rivals Benfica in the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League groups. They made their group stage debut in Lisbon, losing 2-0 before drawing the return fixture 2-2 at home turf, losing a two-goal lead in November 2015.
Find out the possible starting lineups of FC Astana and Sporting CP, as well as our betting prediction with the highest betting odds available on the chosen market.
A home loss (2-3) against Villarreal on matchday 5 ended a 17-game unbeaten European home run for FC Astana (9 wins and 8 draws) – since they lost 0-3 to the same opposition in the 2014/15 UEFA Europa League playoff round. They recovered, however, to win 0-1 vs Slavia in Prague on matchday 6 and secure their historic qualification for the 1/16 finals at their hosts’ expense.
Furthermore, “The Blue and Yellows” have found the net in each of their last eight European home fixtures, scoring 18 goals over that period at an average of 2.25 per game.
Kazakh midfielder Serikhan Muzhikov misses the first round with a suspension while Junior Kabananga, who led Astana’s attack in five of all six group stage games and scored 3 goals, has left the club in January to join Saudi Arabian Al-Nassr. The Congolese attacker will be most likely replaced by either Roman Murtazaev or Djordje Despodovic.
Sporting CP have lost 6 of their most recent 8 European away games and 18 of their last 26 (3 wins, 5 draws). Furthermore, they have won just one of their last 15 UEFA Europa League matches outside Lisbon, losing 10 of them.
The Dutch top scorer Bas Dost is still injured, whose absence is a huge blow for the away side. Daniel Podence is also expected to miss out for the Portuguese giants. Ruben Ribeiro, Bryan Ruiz and Fredy Montero have all been added to the squad for the Europa League knockout phase and we expect Montero to lead Sporting’s attack in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with the absence of Bas Dost.
Sporting’s left wing will be very sharp here as both Fabio Coentrão and Marcos Acuña will be fresh (they were suspended) for Thursday’s game after missing the weekend’s 2-0 success over Feirense in the Primeira Liga. Indeed, the Primeira Liga is Sporting’s main target this year and “The Lions” are keen to win their first domestic league trophy since 2002. Currently Jorge Jesus’ side is third, two points behind leaders Porto and with the same amount as of second-placed Benfica, but “Lions” have an upcoming direct clash in Porto early next month. Their confidence will be high as Sporting have already won the League Cup in end of January, eliminating exactly Porto in the semi-finals, but then lost first leg of their third duel this season – in the Portuguese Cup. However, the Portuguese Cup semi-final is two-legged so Sporting will have a second chance to reach the final, but like we’ve already highlighted, their highest priority is the Primeira Liga and most likely the upcoming European performance.
UEFA Europa League: FC Astana vs Sporting CP Prediction and Betting Tips
In addition to a very long and exhausting journey, Portuguese side must deal with the heavy Kazakh winter as the weather forecast predicts -20° when the game will be played, but let’s not forget that “Astana Arena” has a retractable roof.
We believe Astana won’t lose the first leg at home soil. Our betting prediction suggests Asian Handicap +0.5 (Double Chance) on the home side – FC Astana won’t lose to Sporting CP.
Possible Lineups of FC Astana and Sporting CP
Venue: “Astana Arena”, Astana.
Referee: Ruddy Buquet from France.
FC Astana: Nenad Eric – Igor Shitov, Yuri Logvinenko, Marin Anicic, Dmitri Shomko – Abzal Beysebekov, Srdjan Grahovac, Ivan Maevskiy, Marin Tomasov – Patrick Twumasi – Roman Murtazaev. (4-4-1-1)
Missing players: Serikzhan Muzhikov is suspended.
Sporting CP: Rui Patrício – Fabio Coentrao, Jeremy Mathieu, Sebastián Coates, Cristiano Piccini – William Carvalho, Rodrigo Battaglia – Marcos Acuña, Bruno Fernandes, Gelson Martins – Fredy Montero. (4-2-3-1)
Missing players: Daniel Podence and Bas Dost are both injured.