Sporting braced for Metalist exam

Sporting Clube de Portugal have the pedigree, but they have good reason to fear FC Metalist Kharkhiv as they return to Lisbon in the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals.

Sporting celebrate eliminating Manchester City in the round of 16
Sporting celebrate eliminating Manchester City in the round of 16 ©Getty Images

Sporting Clube de Portugal have reason for optimism as they welcome Ukrainian guests for the third time in the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals, but FC Metalist Kharkiv have fond memories of Lisbon.

Previous meetings
• The sides are meeting for the first time in UEFA club competition.

• Sporting have won all four of their previous games against Ukrainian sides, defeating FC Dynamo Kyiv and FC Shakhtar Donetsk home and away in UEFA Champions League group stage games. They have yet to concede a goal at home against clubs from Ukraine.

• Sporting defender Anderson Polga scored his first goals for the club in the 2007/08 fixtures against Dynamo – from open play in a 2-1 win in Kyiv and from the spot in a 3-0 win in Lisbon.

• Metalist won 1-0 away against Sporting's Lisbon rivals SL Benfica in their only previous match against Portuguese opponents, in the group stage of the 2008/09 UEFA Cup. That result on 18 December 2008 saw Myron Markevich's side finish top of their group, with current Metalist players Oleksandr Goryainov, Milan Obradović, Papa Gueye, Edmar and Marko Dević all involved.

Match background
• Sporting are unbeaten in ten European home games − nine wins and a draw − since a 2-0 loss to Brøndby IF in the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League play-offs.

• Metalist have lost just once in 12 UEFA Europa League games this season, recording eight wins and three draws as well as a 1-0 home defeat by Olympiacos FC in their round of 16 opener.

• Sporting have reached the quarter-finals once since losing the 2004/05 UEFA Cup final 3-1 against PFC CSKA Moskva in Lisbon, bowing out to Rangers FC in 2007/08.

• Metalist are unbeaten in six European away games this season, a 1-1 draw at AZ Alkmaar and five victories, in three of which they scored four times.

• Markevich's Metalist have reached a new European high by making it to the last eight; their best previous season saw them losing out on away goals to domestic rivals FC Dynamo Kyiv in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup round of 16.

Team facts
• Metalist defender Marco Torsiglieri played for Sporting last season; the Argentinian joined the Lions from CA Vélez Sársfield in the summer of 2010, but moved on to Metalist – initially on loan – last summer, securing a permanent move to Ukraine in December. He played 16 league games for Sporting and five more in the UEFA Europa League.

• Metalist are not short of Portuguese speakers: Fininho, Edmar, Marlos, Cleiton Xavier and Taison were all born in Brazil.

• Metalist are the competition's top scorers with 25 goals – four more than their nearest challengers still involved this season, Club Atlético de Madrid and FC Schalke 04.

• The Ukrainian side finish games powerfully; eight of those 25 goals came between the 76th minute and the final whistle.

• Defender Papa Gueye has played in all 900 minutes of Metalist's campaign since the start of the group stage, but only one team-mate – Cristian Villagra – has also featured in all ten games.

• Sporting's Ricky van Wolfswinkel earned his only cap for the Netherlands against Ukraine, a 1-1 draw in Donetsk on 11 August 2008, in which he came up against Metalist's Oleksandr Romanchuk.

• Portugal and the Netherlands – who could feature Van Wolfswinkel and team-mate Stijn Schaars – will be in Ukraine this summer for UEFA EURO 2012. Portugal, most likely featuring Sporting's Rui Patrício and João Pereira, meet the Netherlands in their last Group B game at Metalist Stadium on 17 June.

• Midfielder Schaars is the only Sporting player to have featured in – and indeed started – all ten of their games since the start of the group stage.

• Domingos Paciência was dismissed as Sporting coach at the start of February, having led SC Braga to last season's UEFA Europa League final, where they lost 1-0 to FC Porto in Dublin.

• Youth coach Ricardo Sá Pinto, 39, was installed as Paciência's replacement. The former Portugal forward had two spells with Sporting (1994-97, 2000-06) and played abroad with Real Sociedad de Fútbol and R. Standard de Liège.

• Sá Pinto featured in two 1998 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Ukraine. He was a starter in Kyiv as Portugal lost 2-1 on 5 October 1996 and also at Porto in his team's 1-0 win in 9 November 1996.

• Metalist coach Markevich is a keen student of the game − he has made trips to study Fabio Capello, Christoph Daum and Carlo Ancelotti − and is also an able pianist. Having been in charge of Metalist since 2005, he was named Ukraine coach on his 59th birthday in February 2010 but stepped down that August to focus solely on his club duties.

Final rounds
• The winners will take on FC Schalke 04 or Athletic Club in the semi-finals, playing the first leg at home. Whoever prevails in that tie will be the nominal away side in the final in Bucharest's National Arena on 9 May.

• Metalist have never played in Bucharest, while Sporting lost in their only previous visit to the Romanian capital.

• Sporting eliminated Athletic from the 1985/86 UEFA Cup third round, winning 4-2 on aggregate.

• Of the sides they could meet in the final, Atlético are the only one Sporting have encountered before, losing on away goals in the round of 16 in the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League, which the Spanish side went on to win.

• Metalist have never met either of their potential semi-final opponents. Should they reach the final, there is a chance they could meet a side they have played before, AZ Alkmaar, who they twice drew 1-1 against in this season's UEFA Europa League group stage.

Competition statistics
• An updated version of the UEFA Europa League Statistics Handbook is available here: