5 min: Bentancur takes a whack from distance. His effort is charged down by Inacio, who bravely takes the shot square in the fruit bowl. He goes down immediately and play is stopped so he can take inventory, and a breath.
3 min: … a game of pinball breaks out in the six-yard box. Sporting eventually clear their lines, but this is a confident start from the visitors.
2 min: Spurs are on the front foot immediately, and Perisic wins a corner. From which …
Spurs get the ball rolling. Plenty of noise now.
One of those aforementioned minutes is spent in silence, in honour of Queen Elizabeth II. Well, not completely in silence. It’s not particularly well observed by some of the home fans, who make a little bit of noise, but then it’s not Portugal’s royal family, they’re not obliged. The majority respect the moment, to be fair.
The teams are out! Sporting wear their famous green and white stripes, while Spurs are draped in insert-marketing-department-approved-adjective-here blue. A quick blast of Zadok the Priest (Version) and we’ll be off in a couple of minutes.
Antonio Conte, giving off extremely laid-back vibes, speaks to BT Sport. “Richarlison played very well against Marseille and also against Fulham. I think it is right to pick him to play from the start. It is always important to get a good result in this competition. It is very short. You don’t get many games to get points. For this reason, every game is really important. To play against a Portuguese team is always difficult, especially away. The atmosphere in this stadium is not easy, there is a lot of noise, and we have to be good from the start. We have to manage the situation very well.”
A reminder of how Group D looks after Matchday 1. Here’s the Guardian match report of Tottenham’s 2-0 win over Marseille, and there’s a wee bit on Sporting’s 3-0 demolition of Eintracht downpage here.
Tottenham make one change to the starting XI named for last week’s 2-0 win against Marseille. Ben Davies replaces Clement Lenglet, who drops to the bench.
Sporting Lisbon’s XI features former Spurs academy player Marcus Edwards. David Hytner has more on a young striker who had always seemed destined to feature in a showpiece Tottenham Champions League tie – albeit not in a Sporting shirt – below.
Sporting: Adan, Inacio, Coates, Matheus Reis, Porro, Morita, Ugarte, Nuno Santos, Trincao, Edwards, Goncalves.
Subs: Alexandropoulos, Israel, Rochinha, Issahaku, Paulinho, Andre Paulo, Arthur Gomes, Ricardo Esgaio, Marsa, Nazinho.
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris, Romero, Dier, Davies, Emerson, Hojbjerg, Bentancur, Perisic, Richarlison, Son, Kane.
Subs: Doherty, Skipp, Sanchez, Gil Salvatierra, Sessegnon, Forster, Kulusevski, Spence, Tanganga, Bissouma, White, Lenglet.
Referee: Srdjan Jovanovic (Serbia).
Sporting are one of Portugal’s domineering big three, but unlike their all-conquering rivals Benfica and Porto, they haven’t made much of an impression in the European Cup. Their most successful tilt at Uefa’s premier prize came in 1983, when they were knocked out at the quarter-final stage by Real Sociedad. Other than that, there’s very little worth noting. Beaten in the first round by Bob Shankly’s Dundee in 1962. Thrashed 5-0 at home last autumn by Manchester City. These are slim pickings. At least they’ve got memories of the 1964 Cup Winners’ Cup to keep them warm at night.
Last year’s thrashing by the hand of City came in the Round of 16. It was only the second time Sporting had made it through the groups, the first being 2008-09, whereupon they were spanked 12-1 on aggregate by Bayern Munich. The moral of this story? It’s either be careful what you wish for, or that Sporting are currently on the up. Let’s go for the latter, as they beat Borussia Dortmund 3-1 and Besiktas 4-0 at home last season, to finish second in their group, even if they did go down 5-1 when Ajax came to town. More pertinently, they trounced Europa League champions Eintracht Frankfurt 3-0 away last week, and currently top Group D, one goal ahead of tonight’s visitors Spurs, who eventually saw off Marseille last week with two late Richarlison headers.
Spurs are nevertheless expected to prevail this evening. “Tottenham are the clear favourites in the group,” says Sporting coach Ruben Amorim. “We will have to be wary because they will punish us for the slightest mistake.” By contrast, Antonio Conte is “relaxed” and in the mood to take advantage of the weekend off. “The postponement of the game against City has allowed me to change the idea of the team I had in mind,” he explains, perhaps ominously for tonight’s hosts. Will his team take charge of Group D with a win tonight? Or will it be Sporting who build on their impressive showing last week? Kick off is at 5.45pm BST. It’s on!