O Sporting went to the winter market in search of luck and found it in a well-known face on the Alvalade side. Islam Slimani has returned to the lion kingdom to lend a “helping hand” on the attack front. Now, nine games later, the Algerian has gone from Paulinho’s reserve role, a role Tiago Tomás held for half the season, to an increasingly secure starter.
Preponderance is the key
Slimani has been characterized, since becoming known in Portuguese football, in 2013, as an area player, with an abyssal dominance in the aerial game, with an emphasis on finishing and nothing else. These characteristics, however, have distanced the Algerian from the style supported by Rúben Amorim, who has in Paulinho the example of the spearhead that the 3x4x3 of the lion needs.
[Slimani leva nove jogos pelo Sporting, seis na I Liga, com quatro golos marcados]© Reuters
However, the Sporting manager, who seemed reluctant to return the 33-year-old, gave him an opportunity and changed his mind. It was enough to try Slimani once and now it shows that he wants nothing else. On nine occasions since his arrival, the Algerian has participated in all of them with great importance. 453 minutes in all competitions, 333 in I Liga alone, with four goals, one assist and a change in the Sporting squad.
best winter booster
Slimani showed match after match that he did not return to Alvalade to be a substitute. The numbers say that the Algerian is, for now, the best reinforcement in the January I Liga transfer window. Since the fourth match with the green and white jersey in the league, against Marítimo, Slimani has scored and helped the team. The same figures also indicate that the ex-Lyon is already showing a better performance than the one Tiago Tomás presented in the first round of the championship, before heading to the Bundesliga.
|Number of matches (all competitions combined)||Rights||Goals||assistance
change the designwills change
With the entry of Slimani, Sporting changed the tactical concept and, therefore, certain game ideas. who led the Alvalade team to the national title, Sporting went to a 3x4x1x2 with a loose player in attack before which they usually join Slimani and Paulinho, the two spearheads of the green and white squad.
[Pedro Gonçalves e Nuno Santos têm ficado para trás nas opções do ‘onze’]©Getty Images
This design by Rúben Amorim, which the 33-year-old striker constantly entered, ended up “stealing” the space of other players. The clear cases are those of Nuno Santos and, mainly, Pedro Gonçalves. The former has become more of an option on the left wing, when Matheus Reis is out of form or backs into the center of defence. The second, after a brilliant first season, having been less of a protagonist this year. Despite being ‘slaughtered’ by injuries, he hasn’t featured in the lions’ initial picks for five games and, when called up against Moreirense on the final day, he failed to show the usual quality.
With so much influence over Sporting’s latest results, Slimani risks, in a good way, being rewarded with even more playing time in the next eight I Liga ‘finals’, and Sporting risks, also in common sense, to take credit for what the Algerian does best: goals.