Preview: Maribor v Sporting

While Ante Šimundža thinks NK Maribor will "play with a lot of energy", visiting coach Marco Silva demands Sporting Clube de Portugal improve as they make a group stage return.

Ante Šimundža talks to his Maribor players in training ahead of the Sporting game
Ante Šimundža talks to his Maribor players in training ahead of the Sporting game ©AFP/Getty Images

Maribor coach Ante Šimundža says the pressure is on visitors Sporting
Šimundža warns his players not to get "too carried away"
Maribor defender Marko Šuler has been ruled out with a hamstring injury
Marco Silva demands an improvement from his Sporting players
Silva asks his team to play "patiently and efficiently"

Possible lineups
Maribor: Handanovič; Stojanovič, Rajčevič, Arghus, Viler; Mertelj, Ibraimi, Filipovič, Vršič; Tavares, Mendy.
Out: Marko Šuler (hamstring)

Sporting: Patrício; Ricardo Esgaio/Cédric, Maurício, Sarr, Jefferson; Carvalho, Adrien, Martins; Nani, Carillo, Slimani.
Out: none
Doubtful: Cédric (ribs)

Ante Šimundža, Maribor coach
Our experience from last season's UEFA Europa League will help. We won't get too carried away but will give it a lot of energy.

Sporting have a lot of attacking strength, like any Portuguese side, but you have to expect that in this competition. All the teams are strong – very strong. They have their weaknesses too, but I will keep those to myself. They will certainly be under pressure to get a result, and I am sure the match will be decided by small details on both sides.

I played in the UEFA Champions League and now I am a coach in this competition, but the only common point is Maribor [whom Šimundža represented in the 1999/2000 group stage]. I don't like to compare the past with the present; it was 15 years ago that I played in this competition.

Marco Silva, Sporting coach
In our last few matches we did not play great and of course I cannot be pleased with some results, but now we have a new chapter, a new contest. We came to Maribor to get three points.

We also learned a lot from our recent matches – some mistakes should not be repeated here. It is obvious we have only four players with a lot of international experience here, but we need to start the match patiently. This patience and efficiency is what we've lacked in recent games.

Of course Nani is a very important reinforcement for us, he is strong and experienced. But for the moment perhaps he is still getting used to our game, he hasn't really been at his best. However, there are 11 players on the pitch, it's not all about Nani. If he is not in his best shape, then someone else should take a leadership role on the field. It is all about the team spirit.

We've had some problems away from home and there's a loud and emotional crowd waiting for us here. Maribor have had good results in Europe in recent years, including this season with some high-profile wins, so strong opponents are waiting for us. They are very well-organised and have a very dangerous attack from both midfield and either wing.

Weekend results
Maribor 2-0 NK Krka (Zahovič 22 38)
Sporting 1-1 CF Os Belenenses (Carrillo 34; Deyverson 28)

Form guide (all competitions)
Maribor: WLWWDL
Sporting: DDWD

Match facts
• How did Maribor fare when they played Sporting's domestic rivals SC Braga in the 2011/12 UEFA Europa League group stage? Find out in our extensive match background.

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