Sporting coach Paulo Bento knows that his side stand on the threshold of history when they face Shakhtar Donetsk in Lisbon.
“We know that if we win, we’re virtually through to the last 16,” he said.
After their 1-0 victory at Shakhtar Donetsk on Matchday 3, Sporting know that a repeat performance tonight could guarantee them a place in the last 16 of the Champions League for the first time.
The proviso is that Group C’s bottom side, FC Basel 1893, fail to beat Barcelona.
“We have a clear objective – to get the points that will practically secure qualification for us,” Bento added. “We have faith in our ability to go into the game strongly, and when a team has qualities like ours does, and is playing at home with a great atmosphere behind them, of course we feel we have a good chance to win. It would be great for the club, the players, and the coach as well.
“We displayed great togetherness in Donetsk, and we know we’ll approach this match with belief and on the front foot. We need to be tactically and emotionally balanced. The motivation is always strong in the Champions League. It’s natural for us to have our major objective [qualification] in mind, but we have to have our eyes on the three points first and foremost.”
Shakhtar are also looking at a first appearance in the knockout stages, although their task has been made more difficult by the home defeat by Sporting.
Realistically, Mircea Lucescu’s charges require a win in Lisbon to keep their chances alive.
“Sporting are a very strong team, as we saw,” said Lucescu, “but we’ll do our very best to win.”