PL flops Nani and Quaresma meet in battle of Lions versus Dragons
North verses south, Dragons against Lions; last season’s Portuguese Premeira Liga third and second-placed teams Porto and Sporting Lisbon respectively meet yet again in one of the most famous rivalries in the country.
Remarkably, in their 217 battles in all competitions, only three victories separate the duo, with Julen Lopetegui’s current side Porto just ahead on 79. They are 6/4 favourites to win again, despite being the away side.
The Dragons have begun this campaign well, as they look to reclaim their top-flight title from last season’s winners Benfica, and find themselves undefeated from their opening five games. Porto are two points behind the Premeira Liga holders and current table-toppers in third place.
Sporting (9/5 chances for victory) have also not lost in the league this term, but are two further points behind their upcoming opponents.
While the thought of these clubs’ titanic, ferocious animal symbols going head-to-head could make a wonderful painting, metaphorically speaking a dragon would batter a lion, and that is what has occurred in recent history.
Since the 1984/85 campaign, Porto have utterly dominated their domestic top-flight, winning 20 of the last 30 titles, including nine of the previous 12, starting from 2002/03. In that most recent spell, the two clubs have met 24 times in the league, with the Dragons taking all the spoils on 12 occasions, in contrast to Sporting’s five.
Last season, though, it was the Lions who claimed a 1-0 win in this fixture at their Estadio Jose Alvalade. They are 7/1 chances to beat them by that scoreline again.
Sporting have also been boosted by the temporary return of former academy product Nani, from parent club Manchester United, and the tricky winger has netted twice in five appearances in all competitions already. Back the Portugal international, who dramatically dipped in England the past couple of seasons, at 11/4 to score again.
His fellow Sporting youth dweller and Premier League flop Ricardo Quaresma, meanwhile, has been impressive since his return to his homeland and Porto last January, and nearly earned himself a place on the plane to Brazil for the World Cup. The 30-year-old has started the season slowly this term, but can be backed also at 11/4 to score anytime.
New captain Jackson Martinez will be the main hope for the Dragons, though, having hit five goals in as many league games this season. The Colombian is 6/5 to net anytime, but a more enticing 9/2 to score first, as he did against the Lions in 2012.
Other chances for Sporting include midfield destroyer William Carvalho, who was heavily linked with top Premier League sides this summer. The 22-year-old netted against Porto last term in a 3-1 away loss, but is a decent 7/1 shout to score anytime again.
The Angolan-born Portugal international has not been up to his best form this campaign so far, but ha defended himself, and vowed to improve.
“I can do more,” he said. “I know I haven’t been on my best this season, but it will turn around. Hopefully verses Porto on Friday [September 26th]. Nobody have ever heard me said that I wanted to leave or that I’m unhappy at Sporting. I’ve always been satisfied here.”
“People who think my bad start to the season has anything to do with me being upset, have never been more wrong.”