Sporting Lisbon are currently fifth in the Primeira Liga table after earning 13 points from their opening seven league encounters. The Verde e brancos have registered four wins, drawn once and lost twice in the Primeira Liga in 2018/2019, whereas current leaders and rivals Benfica lead the Primeira Liga with 17 points.
Elsewhere, Abel Ferreira’s Sporting Braga, Sérgio Conceição’s FC Porto and Jose Gomes’ Rio Ave are all presently in top four spots in the Primeira Liga after positive early starts in the league.
Meanwhile, Sporting Lisbon will turn their undivided attention to the UEFA Europa League next as the Portuguese giants host Arsenal in a much-awaited showdown inside the Estádio José Alvalde on October 25.
The Gunners have won their first two 2018/2019 UEFA Europa League group contests courtesy of victories against Vorskla Poltava and Qarabag. Furthermore, Sporting opened their 2018/2019 UEFA Europa League campaign with a 2-0 win at home against Qarabag followed by a heroic 2-1 late show victory away against Vorskla Poltava; Fredy Montero and Jovane Cabral netted the decisive goals for Sporting against the Ukrainian side. Sporting are currently second in the UEFA Europa League Group behind Unai Emery’s Arsenal.
FOX Sports Radio 96.9 FM/1340 AM’s Dean Perretta briefly caught up with Sporting Lisbon and Portugal star, Luis Nani, to discuss the Portuguese giants expectations this season, the UEFA Europa League, the Portugal national team and more.
Dean Perretta: Firstly Luís, what are the main expectations and goals for Sporting Lisbon this season?
Nani: Sporting starts every season with high expectations. We are competing in the Portuguese League, Europa League, Portuguese Cup and Portuguese League Cup and we have to have ambitions of challenging for every trophy. I would say our priority is winning the Portuguese League title since the club has not been able to achieve this since 2002.
Dean Perretta: How far do you believe Sporting Lisbon can advance this season in the UEFA Europa League?
Nani: First we have to focus on making it past the group phase. Once we get to the knock-out stages then anything can happen and we will fight to make it as far as possible in this competition.
Dean Perretta: What do you feel separates José Peseiro from other managers that you have worked with in your career?
Nani: Jose Peseiro is a coach who means a lot to me because it was he who gave me my break back in 2005. It gives me great pleasure to work with him again now. He is someone who works intensely and diligently to prepare every detail before every game. He is a positive person and a good leader and he is very popular in the squad.
Dean Perretta: What does it mean to now be the captain of Sporting?
Nani: Being Sporting captain is a pleasure and a privilege. This is the club where I grew up as a kid and I feel like I am at home, so having the armband is truly special. I work hard and give 100% every day as I try to be an example to some of the younger players at the club.
Dean Perretta: Lastly Luís, what are your thoughts about Portugal’s showing at FIFA World Cup Russia 2018?
Nani: Since Portugal entered the World Cup as European Champions, expectations were very high, both at home and abroad. I was hoping that we could make it further, but Uruguay were very strong and in the end we were missing a bit of luck to beat them.