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Sporting steeled for Barcelona challenge

Sporting opened Group D with an impressive away victory but must now entertain a Barcelona side who won 5-2 on their last trip to the Estádio José Alvalade.

Lionel Messi after scoring on matchday one; he also found the net on Barcelona's last visit to Sporting
Lionel Messi after scoring on matchday one; he also found the net on Barcelona's last visit to Sporting ©AFP/Getty Images

Sporting Clube de Portugal are aiming to build on a valuable matchday one victory in Group D, although to do so they must get the better of FC Barcelona.

• Barcelona themselves are in fine fettle having opened the 2017/18 competition with an impressive 3-0 victory against Juventus, who ended their interest in last season's UEFA Champions League.

Previous meetings
• Gerard Piqué and Lionel Messi were both on target the last time Sporting entertained Barcelona – a 5-2 away win in the 2008/09 group stage. Thierry Henry, a Marco Caneira own goal and Bojan Krkić, with a penalty after Sporting goalkeeper Rui Patrício had been sent off, were also on target for Barça, with Miguel Veloso and Liedson getting the home goals.

• The teams at the Estádio José Alvalade on 26 November 2008 were:
Sporting: Rui Patrício, Daniel Carriço, Anderson Polga, Caneira, Grimi, Veloso, Moutinho, Pereirinha, Yannick Djaló (Tiago 73), Romagnoli (Derlei 46), Liedson (Postiga 79).
Barcelona: Valdés, Alves, Cáceres, Piqué, Márquez, Xavi (Keita 74), Busquets, Hleb, Gudjohnsen, Messi (Pedro 57), Henry (Bojan 46).

• Barcelona – who went on to finish first in the section, with Sporting second, and ended the season by lifting the trophy – had won 3-1 at the Camp Nou thanks to goals from Rafael Márquez, a Samuel Eto'o penalty and Xavi Hernández; Tonel replied for the visitors.

• The Spanish side were also victorious in the teams' only other contest, although by a much narrower margin. Barcelona's Júlio Alberto scored the only goal of their first leg in the 1987/88 UEFA Cup second round but strikes in Lisbon from Manuel Negrete and Raphael Meade looked to have taken Sporting through, only for Roberto's 83rd-minute effort to give Barça an away-goals triumph.

Match background

• The Lisbon club won 3-2 at Olympiacos FC on matchday one and are unbeaten in three European games this season (W2 D1).

• The Portuguese side were 5-1 aggregate winners against Romania's FCSB in the play-offs, following up a 0-0 home draw with a 5-1 success in Bucharest.

• Sporting are in the group stage for a third time in four years. In 2016/17, they came fourth in their group behind Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid CF and Legia Warszawa. They lost two of their three home games in last season's competition, beating Legia Warszawa 2-0 on matchday two.

• The Portuguese club have therefore lost three of their last five home European games, winning one.

• Their elimination from last season's edition of the UEFA Champions League was confirmed by a 2-1 loss at home to Madrid on matchday five, their third successive loss against Spanish opponents, home and away.

• Sporting have won only one of their last ten fixtures against Spanish opponents (D3 L6), beating Athletic Club 2-1 at home in the 2011/12 UEFA Europa League semi-final first leg; they bowed out after losing the return 3-1.

• Their overall home record against teams from Spain is W6 D2 L3.

• Jorge Jesus' side qualified by finishing third in the Portuguese Liga in 2016/17.

• Barcelona have lost three of their last four away games in the UEFA Champions League, including the 4-0 defeat at Paris in last season's round of 16 first leg and an ultimately crucial 3-0 quarter-final first-leg loss at Juventus. They have won just four of their last 11 away matches in the competition, drawing two and losing five.

• This is Barcelona's record-equalling 22nd UEFA Champions League group stage campaign, and 14th in succession. They last failed to reach the last 16 in 2000/01, although they did not take part in 2003/04.

• The Blaugrana last failed to progress beyond the round of 16 in 2006/07; their last two campaigns have been ended in the quarter-finals, by Juve last season and Club Atlético de Madrid in 2015/16.

• Barcelona's last trip to Portugal brought a 2-0 success at SL Benfica in the 2012/13 group stage. Their record away to Portuguese Liga clubs is W4 D3 L4.

• The Blaugrana are unbeaten in their last 14 matches against Portuguese clubs, home and away (W11 D3), since a 1-0 loss at CF Os Belenenses in the 1987/88 UEFA Cup first round.

Coach and player links
• André Gomes played 41 games under Jorge Jesus – who gave him his professional debut – at Benfica between 2012 and 2014, scoring four goals. Nélson Semedo was part of Benfica's B team during Jesus' last two seasons at the club, but did not make his first-team debut until the coach had departed for Sporting.

• Gomes won all three of his Benfica matches against Sporting; Semedo's record against Sporting with Benfica was W1 D1 L1.

• Andrés Iniesta scored past Rui Patrício as Spain beat Portugal 4-2 on penalties after a 0-0 draw in the UEFA EURO 2012 semi-finals; Piqué, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets and Fábio Coentrão also played.

• Lionel Messi beat Rui Patrício from the penalty spot as Argentina won 2-1 in a friendly match against Portugal in Switzerland, in February 2011; Javier Mascherano and Coentrão also featured.

• Bruno Fernandes and Daniel Podence were in the Portugal side beaten 3-1 by Gerard Deulofeu and Denis Suárez's Spain in this summer's UEFA European Under-21 Championship group stage; Tobias Figueiredo was an unused substitute.

• Between 2014 and 2017 Jérémy Mathieu made 63 league appearances for Barcelona, scoring three goals. Mathieu faced the Catalan side eight times in all competitions for Valencia CF between 2009 and 2014 (W1 D3 L4).

• As a Real Madrid player between 2011 and 2017, Coentrão made 58 Liga appearances, scoring once. He faced Barcelona ten times in all competitions (W4 D2 L4).

• Also played in Spain:
Tobias Figueiredo (CF Reus, 2013/14)
Cristiano Piccini (Real Betis Balompié, 2014–17)

• International team-mates:
Jérémy Mathieu & Lucas Digne, Samuel Umtiti, Ousmane Dembélé (France)
Rui Patrício, Fábio Coentrão, Gelson Martins, William Carvalho & Nélson Semedo, André Gomes (Portugal)
Bas Dost & Jasper Cillessen (Netherlands)
Marcos Acuña & Javier Mascherano, Lionel Messi (Argentina)
Sebastián Coates & Luis Suárez (Uruguay)

• Have played together:
Sebastián Coates & Luis Suárez (Liverpool FC, 2011–14)
Bruno Cèsar & André Gomes (Benfica, 2012)
Jérémy Mathieu & Jordi Alba (Valencia CF, 2009–12)
Jérémy Mathieu & Paco Alcácer (Valencia, 2013/14)

Match facts

• Including the final league game of last term, Sporting are 12 matches (W9 D3) undefeated in all competitions, having drawn 1-1 at Moreirense FC on Saturday.

• The Lions had won their first six Liga fixtures of the campaign prior to Saturday, equalling their best start to a Portuguese top-flight season since 1993/94 under future Barcelona coach Bobby Robson.

• Mathieu opened the scoring with a free-kick in the 2-0 home win against CD Tondela on 16 September, his first goal for Sporting.

• Bruno Fernandes drew a blank on Saturday having registered in each of Sporting's previous four matches and in five of their previous six (six goals in total).

• A much-changed side drew 0-0 at home against CS Marítimo in the Portuguese League Cup group stage on 19 September.

• Summer recruits Romain Salin and Mattheus Oliveira made their Sporting debuts against Marítimo. Fellow new arrivals André Pinto and Stefan Ristovski were given their first starts.

• Barcelona are the only team with a 100% record after six games of the Liga season.

• Messi has 12 goals in 11 outings for club and country this season, four of them coming in the 6-1 home win against SD Eibar on 19 September.

• Dembélé will miss the rest of the group stage with a hamstring injury sustained in the 2-1 comeback victory at Getafe CF on 16 September.

• Messi is among the final three nominees for the Best FIFA Men's Player 2017. The winner will be announced on 23 October.