Stuffed Sporting face Porto test next

LISBON - Sporting must put their midweek Champions League thrashing by Bayern Munich behind them to maintain their hopes of wresting the title from Porto when they visit the Portuguese league leaders on Saturday.

"The damage of this game cannot last until after Thursday," Sporting manager Paulo Bento said following Wednesday's 5-0 home thumping by the Germans in their last-16, first-leg game.

"We will see who will hide for the game against Porto. I will be ready and hope the players are ready with me."

"We will have to show a different mental attitude than the one we showed against Bayern," he added.

Porto have 41 points, followed by Lisbon clubs Benfica and Sporting on 37 and Leixoes on 35 after 19 matches.

The championship has been earmarked by Sporting as their main objective after Porto have won it the past three seasons.

"The game is not decisive for Porto, but it is for Sporting since if we win it is unlikely we will lose more than seven points in relation to them until the end of the season," Porto captain Lucho Gonzalez said.

For some at Sporting, it may be their last chance to win the league before moving on. Manager Bento is widely expected to leave at the end of the season and has been linked with Atletico Madrid.

Joao Moutinho almost joined Premier League side Everton in the close season and talks over a move for Miguel Veloso to Bolton in January fell through.

Moves for the two young players are likely to be discussed at the end of this season, as Sporting's model is to produce talent it can sell to richer clubs.

Porto had a less traumatic Champions League night, and will take spirit from an impressive performance in the 2-2 draw at Atletico Madrid. Argentine striker Lisandro Lopez scored both of Porto's goals.

"The draw tasted like a defeat, but it was our best performance of the season, with a high tempo for 90 minutes," coach Jesualdo Ferreira said.

Benfica, who lost 3-2 at Sporting last weekend, face fourth-placed Leixoes on Friday.

The surprise package of the season, Leixoes drew 1-1 against Benfica when they met in October and beat Sporting 1-0 in Lisbon.