Teams: SPORTING CP & Portugal NT
Europa League |Gr.D|R2| SPORTING 1-0 Hertha Berlin, Alvalade, 01.10.2009
Sporting scent an end to German drought
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Group D leaders after a 3-2 win in their opening match at SC Heerenveen, Sporting Clube de Portugal may see the visit of Hertha BSC Berlin as the perfect opportunity to end their long wait for a first win against German opposition. Yet they should be wary of a visiting Hertha side smarting from a 1-1 draw with unfancied FK Ventspils.
• Sporting and Hertha are meeting for the first time. Sporting have never beaten a German club in 16 UEFA club competition games, with their previous eight attempts at home producing four draws and four defeats. Hertha's two previous trips to Portugal both ended in 1-0 losses.
• Sporting made it all the way through to the 2004/05 UEFA Cup final following their only group stage appearance. However, they lost the showpiece 3-1 to PFC CSKA Moskva at their own Estádio José Alvalade. Hertha competed in two UEFA Cup group stage campaigns, reaching the round of 32 in the 2005/06 edition but missing the cut last season.
• Sporting's win at Heerenveen ended a run of four straight draws in UEFA competition this season. Draws in their last two European home games came after two humiliating defeats in Lisbon in the UEFA Champions League last season – a 5-2 loss to FC Barcelona was followed by a 5-0 drubbing against Hertha's Bundesliga rivals FC Bayern München.
• Hertha have gone four games without a European away win since a 2-0 victory at NK IB Ljubljana in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup second qualifying round. They have lost their last two fixtures on the road.
• Sporting coach Paulo Bento is a former midfielder who was surprisingly handed the first-team job midway through the 2005/06 campaign after a spell as a youth coach. His team's success in winning two Portuguese Cups and two Super Cups earned him the nickname 'Papa-Taças' (Cup Eater).
• Hertha dismissed 24-times capped Swiss international Lucien Favre as their coach on Monday, with Sunday's 5-1 loss at TSG 1899 Hoffenheim their sixth in a row in the league under the former FC Lausanne-Sport, Neuchâtel Xamax FC, Servette FC and Toulouse FC player, who won two titles as coach of FC Zürich prior to joining Hertha in 2007.
• His stand-in replacement is Karsten Heine, a former 1. FC Union Berlin and Stahl Brandenburg midfielder who had been working as coach of Hertha's Under-23 amateur team. This is the 54-year-old's fourth spell as the club's caretaker boss. His greatest achievement came as he led Hertha's amateur team to the 1993 German Cup final, where they lost 1-0 to Bayer 04 Leverkusen.
• Hertha's Brazilian defender Kaká knows all about Portuguese football, having represented Sporting's Liga rivals A. Académica de Coimbra from 2006 to 2008.
• Sporting reserve goalkeeper Ricardo Batista and Hertha custodian Jaroslav Drobný were team-mates at Fulham FC in the 2005/06 season, though neither made a first-team appearance in the Premier League during their time in London.
• Sporting visit Ventspils on Matchday 3, while Hertha host Heerenveen on the same night, 22 October.
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