This, Sunday, February 9, 2014 (10:00 AM Pacific, 18:00 GMT), the all-time Lisbon rivals SL Benfica and Sporting CP will measure forces at Estádio da Luz for Round 18 of the Liga Zon Sagres. With both teams separated by two points at the top of the league table, the leaders SL Benfica seem to have history on their side when it comes to the teams’ recent clashes at the home of the Eagles. The last time Sporting CP won the local derby match was back in 2006, when Sá Pinto and Liedson gave the Lions a convincing 3-1 victory at their rivals’ ground.
The years have gone by and SL Benfica has always found a way to defeat Sporting CP at Estádio da Luz. This season, both teams went head-to-head on the early stages of the Portuguese Cup competition and the Eagles grabbed a narrow 4-3 win on extra-time after a spectacular and emotive match.
For next Sunday’s match, SL Benfica’s head coach Jorge Jesus will have almost all of the team’s most important players at his disposal, with the exception of the talented Argentinean winger Salvio, who is still dealing with a long term injury. The charismatic Portuguese manager will keep pushing his classical 4-4-2 tactical style despite all the criticism he has been facing recently. Although the Paraguayan sharpshooter Oscar Cardozo is already fit, it is likely that Jorge Jesus will maintain his recent duo (Lima and Rodrigo), up in the front, since both players are currently enjoying a good moment and Cardozo was sidelined for quite some time and only returned to the matches last week, on his team draw at Barcelos against Gil Vicente FC.
Sporting CP has everything against them on next Sunday’s match. The team’s head coach, Leonardo Jardim, has never won a single match against Jorge Jesus and they have already met six times so far. The Lions have only managed to win four times over the last fifteen years at the home of their eternal rivals and they will need to be completely inspired to defeat a SL Benfica’s side that is yet to be defeat at home this term.
Leonardo Jardim will not be able to count on the young Portuguese international William Carvalho, due to the suspension enforced after a somewhat controversial late yellow card on the team’s last match against Académica, and on the Brazilian left back Jefferson, who is dealing with an ankle injury. Both players have been playing key roles at the team and Sporting’s boss will certainly have some difficulties in replacing them.
Benfica vs Sporting CP Prediction
Next Sunday will certainly not decide who will win the Portuguese football league this season, but a victory for any of the teams could be a major motivational boost, which may help them to successfully overcome the demanding obstacles that are still in store for both teams until the end of the season. Playing at home, in front of their supporters, SL Benfica has almost everything on their side to grab another victory over their eternal rivals; nevertheless, Sporting CP will certainly want to prove that their good moment this term is not happening by chance and they will try to discuss the match to the very last minute. This being said, the most likely outcome is 2-1 for SL Benfica.
SL Benfica (4-4-2)
Maxi Pereira – Luisão – Garay – Siqueira
Fejsa – Enzo Pérez – Markovic – Gaitán
Lima – Rodrigo
Sporting CP (4-3-3)
Cédric Soares – Rojo – Mauricio – Ivan Piris
Adrien Silva – André Martins – Vítor
Montero – Capel – Wilson Eduardo
Benfica vs Sporting CP Television
The match will be televised on Benfica TV 1.