Coming away from a frozen first-leg with a 2-2 draw wasn’t the worst result for Legia; but now Maciej Skorża’s men head to the relative heat of Lisbon knowing that they will likely have to win against Sporting to set-up a last-16 tie with Manchester City.
After taking the lead twice in Warsaw, Legia will feel confident that they will be able to take something from the game in Lisbon; but their first-leg exploits were followed up with a disappointing 2-0 defeat at mid-table Górnik Zabrze. But like their fellow Polish representatives Wisła, the club have been in the news more during the past week for off-the-field affairs rather than the performances on the pitch.
Although the signing of former Rangers attacker Nacho Novo, and the latest capture of Argentine striker Ismael Blanco has gone a little way to appease the Legia fans following the loss of midfielder Ariel Borysiuk to Kaiserslautern, and Maciej Rybus to Terek Grozny; Legia have continued to cash in on their key players, with defender Marcin Komorowski joining Rybus on the plane to Russia after Thursday’s second leg.
Despite their league loss, the players will draw on their early season experiences – where Legia lost at home in the league before travelling to Moscow, defeating Spartak 3-2 to qualify for the Europa League group stages.
Maciej Skorża is unlikely to make any drastic changes from the side which started the first leg; although Janusz Gol could drop back into midfield to replace Jakub Rzeźniczak, whilst young attacker Rafał Wolski may replace the spot left by Gol.
Nacho Novo, Ismael Blanco and Miroslav Radovic will not be available for selection; Novo and Blanco were signed after the first leg, whilst Radovic still isn’t match-fit following the rib injury which kept him away from the team for the start of the Spring round.
Sporting meanwhile have injury problems of their own, with Oguchi Onyewu and Fito Rinaudo ruled out of the game. Although their replacements are likely to be Portuguese duo Andre Santos and Daniel Caricco, who scored both of Sporting’s goals in the first leg.
Possible Legia Starting XI:
Kuciak; Jędrzejczyk, Żewłakow, Komorowski, Wawryzniak; Żyro, Gol, Vrdoljak, Rybus, Wolski; Ljuboja.
The tie is scheduled to kick-off at 20:05 local and UK time, (21:05 Poland); and can be seen on ITV4 in the UK.