Teams: SPORTING CP & Portugal NT
I have been waiting for a game like this to happen since the season started. I am only surprised that it took so long to happen. To see Sporting being shamelessly robbed by the referees is nothing new but somehow this season we've managed to break the spell. It took a well orchestrated smear campaign led by the red/blue tabloids of Lisbon/Porto and the proximity of a clash between the two halves of our corrupt system that will unavoidably take points away from at least one of them, for old habits to come back to our pathetic little futebol.
Sporting didn't play well last night, that is a fact. The team didn't show enough energy and ideas to counter the well set defensive system of Nacional during the first half. Our wingers, both of them, were not active enough and were not supported enough by both full backs. It's also true that the Stoke City-like "legs first and ball afterwards" of Nacional's tackling didn't help as well as the clearly one-sided judgement of every single divided ball by the con artist that came from Braga.
The forced substitution of André Martins at half time, victim of one of the endless butcher tackles we've seen coming from the men from Madeira, did not help things in what respects the fluidity of our game. Leonardo Jardim opted for bringing in Slimani instead of the more logical option of Vítor. I understand why he did it because we needed a more direct approach towards the last third instead of a more stable and safe midfield game. The problem is that using two strikers involves a permanent support by the wings and that really didn't work last night. It always looked like if we could break Nacional would be thanks to a dead ball situation or to a well put cross.
We did manage to do it around the middle of the second half but our clean goal was denied by the ref. I didn't understand the reason why while watching it live at the stadium and now that I've seen several replays on TV, I go on not having a clue. Montero's slight shove on his marker is a perfectly normal situation inside the box during an attack/defense move, so much so that Nacional's defender did not even lose balance from it. Slimani's header is absolutely clean.
This Sporting is really shaking the rotten pillars of our futebol's system but they are still standing as we saw last night. Until when? Let's wait and see.
"The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”