Preview: Estoril Praia vs. Sheffield United – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Wednesday’s friendly clash between Estoril Praia and Sheffield United, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Sheffield United will continue their preparations for the upcoming Premier League season on Wednesday, when they take on Primeira Liga outfit Estoril Praia in Portugal.

The Blades travelled abroad on Sunday for a training camp and will hope to make it two wins from two in pre-season following a victory over Chesterfield at the weekend.

Match preview

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom on April 7, 2023© Reuters

Estoril Praia headed into this pre-season on the back of a tough Primeira Liga campaign last time around, as they eventually finished 14th with 35 points from their 34 outings.

That did leave them nine points clear of the bottom three, but such comfort was only down to a strong end to the season after a rut since the turn of the year, as they managed three victories and 10 points from the last five fixtures, including a 3-1 triumph over Maritimo on the final day in late May, courtesy of goals from Alejandro Marques, Joaozinho and Bamidele Yusuf.

Following the departure of Nelson Verissimo in February, Ricardo Soares oversaw the final months of the campaign, and after he exited at the end of the term, Alvaro Pacheco came in to lead the Canarinhos into the new term, with his tenure beginning in pre-season with a contest against Belenenses on Saturday.

Estoril would come out on top in that first friendly, eventually seeing out a 2-1 victory, and with their Taca da Liga first-leg tie against Pacos de Ferreira looming on Saturday, they will now look to ramp up their preparations against Premier League opposition at the Estadio Antonio Coimbra da Mota.

Estoril Praia's Francisco Geraldes celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates on March 10, 2023© Reuters

Their visitors, meanwhile, kicked off a Portuguese training camp on Sunday and are looking to build momentum ahead of their return to the Premier League, after winning promotion from the Championship last time around.

In his first full season as manager at Bramall Lane, Paul Heckingbottom guided the Blades to a second-placed finish in England’s second tier, having kept themselves in the automatic promotion spots throughout the entirety of the campaign, eventually ending on 91 points from their 46 outings having managed 28 victories while only suffering 11 defeats.

They wrapped up the promotion with a 2-0 victory at home to West Bromwich Albion in late April with three matches to spare, before capping off the campaign with a 2-1 triumph away at Birmingham City, courtesy of goals from Oli McBurnie and James McAtee.

Following the celebrations, the South Yorkshire outfit returned for pre-season at the beginning of July, and they took to the field for a first friendly away at Chesterfield on Saturday, eventually leaving with a 2-0 victory as Iliman Ndiaye and Ben Osborn scored in the second half after the manager made 11 half-time changes.

Now with their first minutes in the tank, having moved within a month of their curtain-raiser at home to Crystal Palace, Sheffield United will hope to keep building momentum with a win on the continent on Wednesday before returning home for friendlies against Rotherham United, Girona, Derby County and Stuttgart in the coming weeks.

Estoril Praia friendly form:

Sheffield United friendly form:

Team News

Sheffield United's Iliman Ndiaye celebrates with teammates after scoring their first goal on April 7, 2023© Reuters

Estoril Praia head into the new term with a somewhat changed squad from last season, following the departures of defenders Tiago Santos and Lucas Africo, midfielder Chico Geraldes and attacker Andre Clovis over the summer.

Attacker Heri Tavares has arrived to bolster the ranks and could start on the right wing, though, with last season’s joint-top scorers Tiago Gouveia and Alejandro Marques having also left the club after loan spells from Benfica and Juventus respectively, as did creative midfielder Joao Carvalho.

That could leave Cassiano to lead the line, while Mor Ndiaye, James Lea Siliki and Loreintz Rosier may line up in the engine room.

Sheffield United have also seen some change in their squad over the summer, with defenders Jack O’Connell and Enda Stevens having departed alongside experienced forward Billy Sharp, although two new signings could make their first appearances for the Blades on Wednesday.

Full-back Yasser Larouci and midfielder Anis Slimane have both travelled with the squad to Portugal after arriving from Brondby and Troyes respectively and should both start in Wednesday’s game, with John Fleck, Ben Osborn, Oliver Norwood and Sander Berge likely competing for the two remaining spots in the engine room alongside the former from the start,

Elsewhere, Oli McBurnie should lead the line alongside Iliman Ndiaye, for whom the Blades have fended off interest from Marseille for, while Anel Ahmedhodzic, John Egan and Jack Robinson could reform the Blades’ regular back three from last season.

Estoril Praia possible starting lineup:
Figueira; Volnei, Alvaro, Vital, Joaozinho; Ndiaye, Siliki, Rosier; Tavares, Cassiano, Araujo

Sheffield United possible starting lineup:
Foderingham; Ahmedhodzic, Egan, Robinson; Baldock, Berge, Norwood, Slimane, Larouci; McBurnie, Ndiaye

SM words green background

We say: Estoril Praia 1-2 Sheffield United

Wednesday should present a tough test for the Blades on their travels, but we see Heckingbottom’s men having enough quality in their squad to come out on top and cap off the pre-season training camp with a victory before returning home and continuing their preparations.

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