Are Sporting a big club or not?

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Brilliant. Surprising. Undisputed. Three adjectives that could briefly and accurately describe Sporting CP’s Europa League performance against Everton last Thursday.

With the tie delicately poised after the Scouse side claimed a narrow 2-1 win in the first leg, Sporting needed to show something special in order to advance to the last 16.

After all, while this Everton side had defeated Chelsea and Manchester United, the Lions hadn’t won in seven consecutive matches.

But with the odds stacked against them, Sporting produced their best performance of the season and gave their supporters a reason to smile with a resounding 3-0 success, courtesy of goals from Miguel Veloso, Pedro Mendes and Matías Fernández.

They're all in there somewhere. Probably

Everton had no arguments to prevent Sporting's midfield – probably their strongest department – from dictating play and controlling the flow of the match. Mendes, Veloso, Moutinho and Izmailov are very talented players and when they’re fired up, they can propel their team to a good result.

Even if only for one night, the Lions were able to forget the fact they were recently trashed by both their arch rivals to reign supreme and earn the plaudits.

Considering how difficult this season has been for the club, this victory should be celebrated and used as a platform to build the future, but it shouldn’t be enough to distort reality.

To simply see this season in a different light after one good night borders on delusion.

After the match, Carlos Carvalhal hailed his side as one of the Europe’s finest and didn’t waste any time stoking the fire ahead of the league match against Porto by saying that their objective “is and will always be the victory”.

‘Confidence’ some may argue, but those words contradict the speech given just one day before when he denied that the Toffees clash was all or nothing.

Sporting have already been knocked out from both domestic cups and trail leaders Benfica by 20 points so their only incentive to look forward this season was the Europa League.

Accepting a hypothetical defeat in a crucial match is accepting the lack of success at the club and disrespecting the supporters and directors who wanted to see more ambition after the departure of Paulo Bento.

"It's about time we won..."

The club have tied to use humble quotes to justify humble results, but when people started to accept the fact that Sporting were unable to compete financially with Benfica and Porto they broke with their traditionally conservative transfer policy and splashed €11.5M in January.

It should be easy enough to decide. Either Sporting are a genuine title contender that has to meet high expectations, or they should simply settle for a Europa League place and a squad full of academy products.

Just don’t change your position after a great or dreadful result.

Having said that, congratulations to the club and bring on Atlético Madrid!

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