When they got off the bus after the Lisbon-Portimão trip, the Sporting players still didn’t know that they would have another trip to make in a passenger truck. In the duel with Portimonense, for the I Liga, the “lions” knew how to ride the bus and took a 1-0 victory from the Algarve. But Sporting goes home without knowing very well what happened on Saturday night, because they suffered a lot in a match that they could have won by two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight or even more than that.
Paulo Sérgio’s team attacked little and defended with a low and dense defensive line, the famous bus, in the “soccer” jargon, and Sporting, which even found spaces to finish – Portimonense defended a lot, but didn’t defend well – was 77 minutes on a bizarre adventure.
A tremendous “festival” of waste took place, perhaps one of the biggest in this football season, and it even seemed like a game doomed to a draw, despite the rather good performance of the Lisbon team.
Until Pedro Gonçalves, until then deeply unhappy at finishing moves, changed positions and helped Paulinho to be decisive. But it remains for the record a night of great “leonine” torment, when it was not supposed to be like this.
too much waste
With his body in the Algarve, but his head in Lisbon (there is a duel with Arsenal in the Europa League), Rúben Amorim designed a Sporting with five changes in the usual starters and even Bellerín and Trincão, motivated by the goals in the last game, stayed on the bench .
Portimonense, on the other hand, started by taking a 5x2x3 symmetrical to Sporting’s 3x4x3, giving the players easily identifiable individual references. But the plan quickly changed.
By choice or because they were forced to, Portimonense bet on a line of six from the 15/20th minute, with a diamond in front of that line. It was, in short, a very long “bus”.
But the car had open doors. Coordination in the defensive sector was poor and there was a lot of space between the full-back and the more open centre-back – a space that Sporting players exploited to exhaustion, especially Nuno Santos, Edwards and Pote.
And they did it with the decoy created by Esgaio, on the right, and Pote, on the left, who asked for the ball inside and dragged one of the defenders in front supports, to leave that opponent away from the space that would later be explored.
Diomande stood out for his ability to feed these “leonine” movements with good vertical passes – some on the ground, others in the air. And the space was appearing, even against a very dense defense.
Sporting wasted flagrant opportunities at 17′ (Pedro Gonçalves for Kosuke’s save and Pedrão, in the rebound, cut a shot by Morita over the line), 28′ (Pote missed a “penalty in progress”), 32′ (Edwards didn’t finished well at the second post) and 40′ (penalty that Pote sent to the bench).
There were ten shots, six of them dangerous and, of those six, four as flagrant goal opportunities. From Portimonense nothing could be seen but a shot out of a free-kick. That was it.
Pot changed jobs
Shortly after the break there was a ball against the crossbar of the Algarve goal (it would be Park’s own goal) and Kosuke’s great save from Pote’s shot.
Portimonense continued to defend in a strangely weak way – either because they usually conceded few goals, or because of the number of defenders they brought to this game, proving that defensive density does not always make teams defend better.
At 60′, at a time when Sporting seemed to be losing some steam in game creation, Amorim introduced Matheus Reis, adding another centre-back capable of creating with the ball and verticalizing the game in possession and in the pass – especially compared to Coates, the player who left.
Sporting came close to the goal again in the 62nd minute, with a ball from Esgaio saved by Kosuke – once again, due to the poorly defended space between the center and the winger – and in the 64th minute, with another ball on the irons. In this second move, Pot failed in a good position, after Matheus Reis made an interesting move from back to front – the ones that Coates will always have more difficulty in making, giving nexus to Amorim’s change.
But Pot’s night wasn’t over yet. At 72 ‘, isolated, he returned to not being happy. To that extent, he changed jobs. He gave up and devoted himself to a different activity, when at 77’, a dozen opportunities later, he allowed Sporting’s ordeal to end.
Paulinho, just entered, responded first to a deep ball from Pote and the midfielder agreed with Amorim when the coach argues that, sometimes, the quality of the player in creating the game is as or more useful than in finishing.
In the final minutes, Sporting showed some inability to control the game with the ball and had to survive twice with the help of Adán.