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Sporting v Maribor background

After winning for the first time on matchday four, Sporting Clube de Portugal will hope to build on that against NK Maribor as they chase a top-two place in Group G.

Nani was Sporting's goalscorer in the matchday one fixture
Nani was Sporting's goalscorer in the matchday one fixture ©AFP/Getty Images

Winners for the first time in Group G on matchday four, Sporting Clube de Portugal will want to build on that against NK Maribor as they seek to overtake second-placed FC Schalke 04.

Sporting were denied by substitute Luka Zahovič's added-time equaliser when the sides met on matchday one, Maribor's return to the group stage after a 15-year absence. Nani had shot the visitors ahead late on.

Match background

• Last season's Portuguese Liga runners-up succumbed 1-0 at home to Chelsea FC on matchday two, before two dramatic games with Schalke.

• Sporting went down 4-3 in Germany, taking the lead before losing Maurício to a first-half red card yet still pulling it back to 3-3 having been 3-1 down. Two weeks later they turned the tables to win 4-2 and move to four points, one fewer than Schalke.

• They have lost just once – against Chelsea – in 18 European home matches since a 2-0 defeat by Brøndby IF in the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League play-offs. They have won 14 and drawn three of those games.

• In the 2011/12 UEFA Cup group stage, Maribor crashed 5-1 at SC Braga after the home fixture had finished 1-1, Agim Ibraimi having put Maribor ahead in the first instalment. 

• Jasmin Handanović, Tavares, Dejan Trajkovski, Arghus, Aleš Mertelj, Željko Filipović and Aleksander Rajčević also played in those matches.

• The Violets led in Gelsenkirchen on matchday two through Damjan Bohar before Schalke claimed a 1-1 draw. They then fell 6-0 at Chelsea before drawing the return 1-1, Ibraimi lobbing them ahead. 

• Tavares hit a 75th-minute winner at Celtic FC to secure Maribor's play-off victory and place in the competition proper. The home game had ended 1-1.

• After a 1-0 home victory over Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC in the third qualifying round, Maribor's passage was sealed with a 2-2 draw in Larnaca.

• The Slovenian side recorded a 2-0 home success over HŠK Zrinjski after a 0-0 draw away in the second qualifying round. 

• Maribor have lost only two of their last eight European away matches.

• In their previous group stage appearance, in 1999/2000, Maribor finished in fourth place with four points, winning 1-0 away to FC Dynamo Kyiv and drawing 0-0 at Bayer 04 Leverkusen.

Coach and player links
• Islam Slimani's Algeria beat Mertelj's Slovenia 2-0 in a Blida friendly in March 2014.

• Ibraimi's FYR Macedonia faced Nani's Portugal in a May 2012 friendly which ended goalless. 

• Luka Zahovič was born in the Portuguese city of Guimaraes where his father Zlatko was playing. Now Maribor's sporting director, Zlatko had spells at Vitória SC, FC Porto and SL Benfica in Portugal. He played 15 games against Sporting, scoring three goals and notching four wins, five draws and six losses.

Match facts

• Maurício is available after serving a one-game ban on matchday four. Cédric, Maurício, João Mário and William Carvalho are all a booking away from suspension.

• Junya Tanaka scored his first goal for the club from the spot as Sporting cruised into the last 16 of the Portuguese Cup with a 5-0 win at third-tier SC Espinho on Friday. Daniel Podence, 19, came on for his debut.

• Sporting slipped to eighth in the Portuguese Liga after a 1-1 draw at home against FC Paços de Ferreira on 9 November. Their previous league game ended in a 3-0 loss at Vitória SC – their heaviest defeat in nearly two years.

• Adrien Silva made his senior international debut as a second-half substitute in Portugal's 1-0 friendly win against Argentina at Old Trafford, Manchester on 18 November.

• Jonathan Silva made his Argentina debut as a substitute in a 2-1 friendly win against Croatia on 12 November.

• Heldon Ramos scored a late goal as Cape Verde Islands beat Niger 3-1 to finish top of their section in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying.

• Sporting had 16 players on international duty last week: Rui Patrício, Cédric, William Carvalho, Adrien Silva, João Mário, Nani (Portugal), Paulo Oliveira, Ricardo Esgaio, Tobias Figueiredo, Carlos Mané (Portugal U21), Jonathan Silva (Argentina), Ryan Gauld (Scotland U21), Slimani (Algeria), Heldon (Cape Verde Islands), André Carrillo (Peru) and Rami Rabia (Egypt U23).

• Figueiredo made his debut for Portugal U21 as their 20-month unbeaten run ended with a 3-1 friendly defeat in England on 13 November; Oliveira, Esgaio and Mané also featured.

• Filipović, Ibraimi and Mitja Viler are all a booking away from a ban.

• Tavares (adductor) and Ibraimi (pneumonia) were struggling with fitness last week but both recovered to feature on Saturday against FC Koper, Tavares scoring the opener in a 4-0 win.

• Maribor won 2-1 at NK Krka in the first leg of their Slovenian Cup quarter-final tie on 19 November, with Aleš Mejač on target for the first time in nearly 14 months.

• Second-placed Maribor have 35 points from 17 league games this season, just as they had at the equivalent stage last term when they were top.

• Petar Stojanovič became Slovenia's youngest ever senior international debutant in a 1-0 friendly loss to Colombia on 18 November aged 19 years and 42 days. In all, there were nine current or past Maribor players in a youthful Slovenia squad.