The clash between Sporting and Eintracht Frankfurt on Champions League matchday 6 at the Estadio José Alvalade is a winner-takes-all affair with a place in the last 16 awaiting the winner. In such a tight group it is still possible for the loser to finish bottom and not even make the Champions League. Here we bring you five key matchups that could make the difference on Tuesday night.
Carlos Edwards v Tuta/ Evan Ndicka
The English forward is certainly taking the opportunity to blossom given more game time and is following a route taken by the likes of Jadon Sancho and Jude Bellingham (just in Portugal not Germany). He scored against Frankfurt in the first game and also against his former club Tottenham on his recent return to London.
The 23-year-old is very direct, he keeps control of the ball very well and he’s quick when he gets a defender in one-on-one situation. He has shown he has a good finish and although not the finished article, the Eintracht central defenders are going to have to get him under control.
Pedro Gonçalves v Jesper Lindström
Gonçalves and Lindström operate in similar areas for the Lions and the Eagles respectively. Gonçalves should return to the starting line-up after serving his suspension for the red card he received in the home loss to Marseille. Since returning to his homeland after an unsuccessful spell with Wolves he has become a key man. All his six goals this season have come in the league so Tuesday would be the perfect time to open his Champions League account.
Danish attacker Lindström was the Bundesliga Rookie of the Year last season, so it comes as little surprise that he has kicked on this season and is already being linked with the likes of Arsenal. He has five Bundesliga goals this season and one in the Champions League. A match-winner with his quality on the right day. This is the time to shine.
Sebastián Coates v Randal Kolo Muani
If the duel between Edwards and the Eintracht centre backs at one end is going to be key, then the matchup of Frankfurt’s dangerman Randal Kolo Muani and Uruguayan defender Sebastian Coates will be equally as important.
The Sporting captain will have his hands full against the Frenchman who has literally taken the Bundesliga by storm since his summer arrival from Nantes. He has three goals and nine assists from his first eleven appearances and got his first Champions League goal last week in the 2-1 win over Marseille.
Kevin Trapp v Antonio Adán
The attacking power both sides are going to provide as they seek the win that will propel into the promised land of the last 16 will mean both keepers should see plenty of action. Frankfurt’s captain Kevin Trapp knows what is expected ahead of the key clash. “I’ve got a really good feeling because I think that compared with the first game against them, we’ve really improved. We’re well prepared for this.
“Sporting have a lot of quality. First and foremost, they are a technically very strong team who can create a lot of chances. We need to stay focused for the full 90 minutes, defend as a team and bring our own strengths into play. That’s the only way to win a game at this level, where it always comes down to the little details.”
Adán, at 35-years-old has seen it all before with his experience at Real Madrid and Real Betis sure to hold him in good stead.
Manuel Ugarte v Djibril Sow
With both PSG and Tottenham chasing the 21-year-old Uruguayan defensive midfielder, you know that you have a player of some talent on your hands. In just his second season with Sporting, he impressed last year, but has really come to the fore this season both domestically and in the Champions League. Sow is more of a veteran (although not in the Makoto Hasebe sense of the word). The matchup between Ugarte and Sow will go a long way to deciding who comes out on top in the midfield battle.