Rio Ave has won their last five Liga matches and beaten Sporting CP twice this season.
As a result, Carlos Carvalhal expects his side to give Sporting un uncomfortable time on Saturday night at home in Vila do Conde.
Also, if the results go their way – defeating Sporting and SC Braga losing at Benfica – Rio Ave could jump into third place.
Carvalhal, who has led Rio Ave to a strong season and in the hunt for a Europa berth, spoke today at his pre-match press conference.
“For the teams that have the pressure to win, playing Rio Ave is an uncomfortable task,” said Carvahal. “The way we play, how we behave in offensive and defensive dead balls, we are a team that is difficult to play against.”
Rio Ave beat Sporting 3-2 and later 2-1 in the League Cup with both matches in Alvalade. Despite that, Carvalhal expects Saturday’s match to be the most difficult of the three and says the league standing is not yet important, but it is nice to be in a position they are in.”
“The place in the league table, at the moment, is not important. We prefer to go as high as possible, but our barometer is different. We made the club’s second-best record in the first round, with 25 points. If we do between 45 and 51 points, it would be an excellent mark for the history of Rio Ave.”
Carvalhal won’t have Gelson Dala available, due to Liga’s rule of loanees not playing against parent club. Club legend Tarantini is suspended.
Former Sporting Carlos Mane could be in the XI.
The Week 21 match is scheduled for Saturday night at 20:30.