Sporting CP Lisbon vs Rio Ave Preview
Sporting will look to continue their steady if unspectacular recovery at home to Rio Ave on Sunday afternoon.
The three matches played by the Lions since SÃ¡ Pinto became the new coach has seen Sporting make progress in the Europa League and get back to winning ways in the Liga ZON Sagres, albeit with far from convincing performances.
â€œPositive results bring joy. With each game that passes we are more confident and we are improving. The players have been fantastic,â€ said Pinto ahead of the Rio Ave clash.
Sporting go into the match without first-choice goalkeeper Rui PatrÃcio, who suffered a knee injury against Legia Warsaw on Thursday and has not been included in the squad.
There was better news as regards another player who picked up a knock in the same match, however. Russian midfielder Marat Izmailov has been passed fit to play.
Alberto Rodriguez, Oguchi Onyewu and Fito Rinaudo are all out injured though, as Sportingâ€™s medical staff continue to work overtime.
Rio Ave coach Carlos Brito does not believe the missing players will make the task any easier for his side. â€œI donâ€™t believe Sporting are weaker because of the injuries,â€ said Brito.
The experienced coach of the Vila do Conde outfit has problems of his own. Rio Ave have won only one of their last seven games and remain perilously close to the relegation zone.
Kick-off at 6.15 pm local time at the Alvalade Stadium, Lisbon.