Sporting have reason for optimism against Shakhtar Donetsk but home coach Mircea Lucescu says his side will be expecting to collect all three points from the Group C encounter.
“The most important thing is to get three points from this game,” Lucescu said. “If we want a chance of progressing to the knockout stage we can afford nothing but a win. We’re aware the task will be very difficult, but with a full stadium on our side we’re reckoning on three points.”
Lucescu will have to cope without in-form defender Ilsinho has been ruled out for the rest of 2008 with a broken foot and an appendix operation has robbed him of Luiz Adriano until next month.
“Their absence is our biggest problem for the coming match,” he said. “We will do all we can to find adequate replacements, but it’s going to be hard.”
After taking six points off Dynamo Kyiv last season, Sporting coach Paulo Bento intends to do the same again against their Ukrainian rivals.
“I think it will be more difficult,” he said. “My desire is to win both of our meetings with Donetsk, but four points would also please me. We know how much effort it will take to earn points here, but I expect my team to be at their best. Shakhtar play dynamic, aggressive football which is based on the great individual quality of their players, but we’re aware of their strengths. Forewarned is forearmed.”
Marat Izmailov is fit again and will also add to Bento’s options, but Simon Vukcevic misses out with flu and Marco Caneira is yet to recover from a stomach muscle problem.
“The two games against Shakhtar are likely to decide whether we progress,” Bento said. “We expect a very hard but interesting match.”