Derbi Preview: Sporting-Benfica

It’s true what they say about Derby Matches, forget about form and if you’re Sporting Clube de Portugal the Derby is a season of it’s own. In fact for our rivals the difference between success and failure is whether or not you beat Benfica. Though they may deny it, Sportinguistas can live with losing to Porto (notice most of them are more concerned with us being awarded penalty against Aves than the fact they were robbed a clear penalty against Porto) but losing to Benfica is the end of the world. So as I look at this battle of eternal rivals I am ignoring the clear difference in lack of quality and form, ignoring the 16 points that separate us in the table, and ignoring the 5-0 beat down we handed them in the SuperCup in August. That’s because none of that matters in this rivalry, this will be a battle of wills, guts, and determination. It will also be battle of efficiency. Benfica will not get 36 shots on goal like they did against Aves. At best we can hope 5 or 6 solid chances if things go well. Sporting will be missing central defender Sebastian Coates who has on multiple occasions gaffed in his own penalty area and given us goals. Lage will have to decide between Vinicius or Seferovic to partner with Chiquinho in the attack. Also there’s the question as to who will start in the center of midfield. Some combination of Weigl, Taarabt and Gabriel will team up with Pizzi and Cervi to hopefully control the majority of the tempo and territory of which the battles in this match will be fought. I’m inclined to believe Weigl will play in the “6” position with the assignment of sending Sporting’s Bruno Fernandes to Manchester United on sour note given the ever impending transfer of the midfielder to the Red Devils. The German midfielder is perfect for the task should Bruno Lage entrust him with it. Weigl has phenomenal positioning in midfield and is right at home canceling out talented play makers. However the key match up for me will be down our right corridor and its the match up between André Almeida and Acuña. Sporting’s Argentine left wing back was the best player on the park in a recent 2-1 defeat to Porto. Almeida will have little help defensively from Pizzi in front of him and will have to rise to the occasion if the Eagles are to soar in this clash. No matter how you cut it up Benfica are superior on paper but Football is not played on paper and for 90 minutes at Estadio José Alvalade Benfica will have to execute and endure a hostile crowd in order to bring home the three points.

Published by Mike Agostinho

Former Coach turned Podcaster/Blogger involving all things Sport Lisboa and Benfica from the perspective of the Mister and in English for Benfiquistas all over the English speaking world.

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