NICK LEYDEN - Friday, October 14, 2011
Sporting will enter the third stage of the Taça de Portugal against Famalicão on Saturday, though Domingos Paciencia has not revealed what role Oguchi Onyewu and other regulars will play.
Sporting CP - FC Famalicão
Having not lost a game in any competition since August the Lisbon giants will be confident of defeating the northerners no matter who is in the lineup, especially as Famalicão has just a single victory in five league games in Portugal's third level.
Onyewu has only just returned to Portugal after playing in both US friendlies in the past week, while his defensive partners Alberto Rodriguez and Emiliano Insua are not yet back in the country after traveling to World Cup qualifying matches for Peru and Argentina respectively.
The fourth regular starter on the back line, João Pereira, as well as goalkeeper Rui Patricio were also active on international duty with Portugal, meaning it is possible that Paciencia will field an entirely new defense against Famalicão.
Many of Sporting's attacking players, including midfielders Matías Fernández, Elias and Stijn Schaars, as well as forward Valeri Bojinov, were also called to their national teams.
While Paciencia has stressed that Sporting will not overlook any opponent, he has also acknowledged that it may be difficult to use any of his international stars as he has not had enough time to assess their physical conditions following their travels, making wholesale lineup changes a distinct possibility in this matchup with a lower league opponent.
The break for Tony Taylor and Caleb Patterson-Sewell will extend for a week longer than most as Atlético was eliminated from the Taça de Portugal in the previous round.