Sporting CP's record-equalling eighth last-32 appearance begins at home to İstanbul Başakşehir, newcomers to springtime European football.
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Sporting CP's record-equalling eighth appearance in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 begins with a home leg against Turkish side İstanbul Başakşehir, who are appearing in European competition during the spring for the first time.
• While Sporting finished runners-up in Group D to Austrian side LASK, who defeated them 3-0 in Linz on Matchday 6, the Portuguese side's final tally of 12 points was two better than that of İstanbul Başakşehir, who surprisingly topped a highly competitive Group J thanks to a sensational last-minute winner in their final fixture away to Borussia Mönchengladbach – a result that eliminated the then Bundesliga league leaders from the competition.
• The clubs are meeting in UEFA competition for the first time.
• While Sporting have drawn all three of their previous away matches against Turkish teams, their record at home is W2 L1. The most recent such encounter came on Matchday 6 of the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League, when they came from behind to beat Beşiktaş 3-1 and go through at their visitors' expense.
• İstanbul Başakşehir's only previous meetings with Portuguese opposition came in the 2017/18 UEFA Europa League group stage. They lost 2-1 at Braga before winning the return fixture in Istanbul by the same scoreline, Edin Višća grabbing the opening goal.
• Sporting qualified automatically for the 2019/20 UEFA Europa League group stage by winning last season's Portuguese Cup, a penalty shoot-out victory in the final against Porto adding to a third-placed finish in the Liga. They also reached the UEFA Europa League round of 32, where they were knocked out by Villarreal.
• Sporting's ninth appearance in the UEFA Europa League proper – a joint-competition record – kicked off with a seventh group stage appearance, which brought further progress for the sixth time thanks to maximum points at home, where they defeated LASK (2-1), Rosenborg (1-0) and PSV Eindhoven (4-0), plus a 2-0 win in Norway.
• The Lisbon side's best performance in the competition came in 2011/12, when they reached the semi-finals. They have won only three of their previous seven round of 32 ties, most recently against Astana in 2017/18 (3-1 a, 3-3 h), and are without a win in their last four home matches at this stage of the competition (D2 L2), failing to score in three of them.
• Sporting went a record 20 home games unbeaten in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final, in their first five seasons of participation (W13 D7) but have lost four of the 14 since (W9 D1). In the knockout phase their record in Lisbon is W7 D4 L2.
• This is İstanbul Başakşehir's fifth successive European campaign, their UEFA competition bow having been made in 2015/16. They ensured a return this term by finishing second to Galatasaray in a closely fought 2018/19 Süper Lig title race.
• Two defeats by Olympiacos in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round put İstanbul Başakşehir into the UEFA Europa League group stage for the second time. Their previous campaign, in 2017/18, ended after six matches as their tally of eight points left them in third place behind Braga and Ludogorets.
• This season they finished first in their group despite two heavy defeats to second-placed Roma (0-4 a, 0-3 h). However, they won twice against Wolfsberg and drew 1-1 at home to Mönchengladbach before leapfrogging their German hosts to the Group J summit thanks to Enzo Crivelli's added-time strike in a momentous 2-1 win on Matchday 6.
• That was only the Istanbul club's third win in 13 European away fixtures (D3 L7) but their second in a row after a 3-0 triumph at Wolfsberg on Matchday 4. They had failed to score in their previous three continental fixtures on the road – defeats at Burnley, Olympiacos and Roma.
UEFA Europa League squad changes
In: Rodrigo Battaglia, Stefan Ristovski, Andraž Šporar (Slovan Bratislava)
Out: Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), Fernando (end of loan), Luiz Phellype
• İstanbul Başakşehir
In: Gökhan Inler
Out: Mert Çelik, Muzaffer Kahrıman, Onur Güney, Arda Turan
Links and trivia
• Sporting's January signing Andraž Šporar has already scored against Turkish opposition in this season's UEFA Europa League, registering twice in Slovan Bratislava's 4-2 home win over Beşiktaş in the group stage.
• Sporting defender Luís Neto spent 2017/18 on loan at Turkish club Fenerbahçe, making 13 Süper Lig appearances. His team-mates there included current İstanbul Başakşehir players Mehmet Topal and Martin Škrtel.
• Škrtel also played at Liverpool with Sporting defender Sebastián Coates from 2011 to 2013, while Mehmet Topal was a team-mate at Valencia in 2011/12 of Sporting's French defender Jérémy Mathieu.
• İstanbul Başakşehir's Brazilian right-back Júnior Caicara had a two-season loan spell with Portuguese outfit Gil Vicente in 2010/11 and 2011/12, winning the second division title in his first season and reaching the Portuguese League Cup final in his second. He won two of his three games against Sporting, losing the other, and was sent off in a League Cup encounter.
• Defender Carlos Ponck spent six seasons in Portugal, playing for Quarteirense, Farense, Paços de Ferreira, Benfica B, Chaves and Aves, before joining İstanbul Başakşehir in 2019. He faced Sporting eight times (W2 D1 L5) and scored the only goal as Chaves eliminated the Lisbon side from the 2016/17 Portuguese Cup quarter-finals.
• Ponck and Sporting's Jovane Cabral both made their international debuts for Cape Verde in a 2-0 friendly win against Luxembourg on 28 March 2017.
• Sporting are competing in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase for the eighth time, a competition record they share with Ajax.
• Sporting became the fifth team to register 100 goals in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final, when Coates opened the scoring in their 2-0 win at Rosenborg on Matchday 4.
• The son of a former player, Emanuel Ferro opted instead for a career in coaching that began at the age of 24 and led to a job with Benfica's youth team. Between 2014 and 2015 he had a spell abroad as the assistant coach to Malaysia and the head of Espérance de Tunis's youth sector before returning to Portugal to work at Sporting CP as assistant to the Under-14, B and U23 teams. He was briefly head coach of the latter, replacing Leonel Pontes, and now works alongside Silas in the senior side's current regime.
• A former midfielder who spent most of his playing career at Galatasaray, with whom he won seven Turkish league titles plus the UEFA Cup/UEFA Super Cup double in 2000, Okan Buruk also helped Turkey to third place at the 2002 FIFA World Cup. İstanbul Başakşehir became his seventh club in as many seasons as a coach when he succeeded Beşiktaş-bound Abdullah Avcı in the summer of 2019. His profile had risen considerably a year earlier when he led unheralded Akhisar Belediyespor to Turkish Cup success with a 3-2 final victory against Fenerbahçe.
UEFA Europa League knockout debut for VAR system
Video Assistant Referees (VAR) will be deployed in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase. The decision was taken by the UEFA Executive Committee last September, following the introduction of the system in several UEFA competitions in the 2018/19 campaign.