Sporting CP vs SL Benfica: Preview and Prediction

The top spot in Liga Portugal will be on the line on Saturday when Sporting CP welcome local rivals Benfica to Estadio Jose Alvalade.

The 2023/24 season has entered its run-in period, with only two months left before the curtains come down on an action-packed campaign. Liga Portugal has seen Matchday 28 kick off this week. Saturday will bring us four more games, with the action rounding up with Derby de Lisboa as Sporting CP and SL Benfica lock horns at Estadio Jose Alvalade to wage a battle for the top spot.

Sporting CP came into the 2023/24 season after finishing fourth in the Liga Portugal last term, 13 points behind eventual champions Benfica. However, that now seems like a bad dream, with the Lions romping to the summit of the Primeira Liga, a point ahead of Benfica with a game in hand. The stellar campaign has brought the attention of Ruben Amorim, who has become a target for several high-profile clubs, including Liverpool.

As for Benfica, they remain in contention to win the Liga Portugal title for a second successive season. The Eagles are second in the standings and have the second-best offensive and defensive records. However, considering they have a game in hand over Sporting CP, Roger Schmidt’s men need to win on Saturday to keep their fate in their hands.

The reverse fixture saw Benfica coming from a goal down to beat Sporting CP 2-1, with Joao Neves and Casper Tengstedt scoring two injury-time goals. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides.

Team News & Tactics

Sporting CP

Ruben Amorim does not have any new injury concerns hampering his preparations ahead of his side’s latest fixture. Against SL Benfica on Saturday, the Sporting CP manager will be bereft of the services of two first-team players.

Pedro Goncalves is the most notable absentee, with the Portuguese international recovering from a hamstring injury. Veteran goalkeeper Antonio Adan is the only other player on the sidelines, with the Spaniard recovering from his own thigh issue.

Franco Israel will take his spot between the sticks, with Sporting CP lining up in a 3-4-3 formation in front of him against SL Benfica. The central defensive unit should feature the in-demand Ousmane Diomande, Matheus Reis, and the in-demand Sebastian Coates.

Geny Catamo and Paulinho will be the two wing-backs, with the duo flanking Morten Hjulmand and Hidemasa Morita. Viktor Gyokeres will lead the line for Sporting CP against Benfica, with Francisco Trincao and Nuno Santos completing the numbers in the final third.

Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Israel; Diomande, Coates, Reis; Catamo, Hjulmand, Morita, Paulinho; Trincao, Gyokeres, Santos

SL Benfica

Unlike his counterpart in the Sporting CP dugout, Roger Schmidt does not have any issues to deal with ahead of the short trip to the Jose Alvalade Stadium. The SL Benfica manager has a full-strength squad this weekend.

Benfica will line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation against Sporting CP on Saturday, with Anatoliy Trubin taking his spot between the sticks. The backline should consist of Alexander Bah, Antonio Silva, Fredrik Aursnes, and captain Nicolas Otamendi.

As for the midfield unit, there is no looking past the solid duo of Florentino Luis and Joao Neves in the double pivot. The pair will look to keep things tight in the middle of the park while connecting the defence with the attack.

Rafa Silva should reprise the no. 10 role, with Angel Di Maria and vice-captain Joao Maria being the two wide attackers. Finally, Marcos Leonardo should spearhead the Benfica attack against Sporting CP.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Trubin; Bah, Antonio Silva, Otamendi, Aursnes; Luis, Neves; Di Maria, Rafa Silva, Mario; Leonardo

Key Stats

  • Sporting CP and Benfica have clashed 319 times thus far, with the Eagles leading the head-to-head-record with 138 wins (D68 L113).
  • Benfica are on a four-game unbeaten run against Sporting CP in the Primeira Liga, including winning the reverse fixture 2-1.
  • The last five meetings between Sporting CP and Benfica have witnessed over 2.5 goals and strikes on both ends.
  • Eight of Sporting CP’s nine most recent games across competitions have produced three goals or more.
  • Four of Benfica’s last five away games have seen one side keep a clean sheet. However, Sporting Lisbon’s five most recent home matches have seen both sides find the back of the net.

Player to Watch

Viktor Gyokeres

Embed from Getty Images

No one could have foreseen the kind of impact that Viktor Gyokeres has had in Portugal. Going from the EFL Championship to the Primeira Liga is a big jump. But the Swedish international has taken Liga Portugal by storm, scoring goals for fun throughout the 2023/24 season.

The 25-year-old has 36 goals and 15 assists in 41 appearances across all competitions, producing astounding numbers in his debut campaign. He has also scored in two of the three meetings with Benfica and will be the go-to man for Ruben Amorim on Saturday.


Sporting CP 2-1 SL Benfica

Benfica might have come from behind to beat Sporting CP 2-1 in the reverse fixture. But the Lions have turned things around against their local rivals after clinching a 4-3 aggregate win to reach the Taca de Portugal final. Considering the fine margins in the three clashes featuring Sporting and Benfica, we can expect similar things on Saturday.

The match should go down the wire, with both teams leaving everything on the field to secure the summit of Liga Portugal. However, the hosts should continue their recent unbeaten run against Benfica, eking out a narrow 2-1 win to go four points clear at the top of the table.

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