Benfica vs Sporting CP Prediction, Preview, Lineups and Betting Tips
First edition of The Derby de Lisboa during the 2017-18 season comes in first days of 2018 when Benfica and Sporting CP are both set to meet on Wednesday night, 3 January. Situation in the Portuguese Primeira Liga is pretty dodgy as we once again have all of The Big Three (Os Três Grandes) occupying the top positions in space of three points only. This makes the 167th league clash between the two Lisbon giants even more significant, especially when their rivals Porto are on the pole position and should have a relatively “easy” visit to Feirense earlier the same night.
Latest Derby of Lisbon was on 22 April 2017 when the match at “Estádio José Alvalade” has ended with no winner – 1-1 after an early goal by former Sporting CP midfielder Adrien Silva who scored a penalty kick. Later on, in the second half, former Benfica defender Victor Lindelöf has leveled and won the point for his team after a perfectly executed free-kick.
Primeira Liga: Benfica vs Sporting CP 03.01.2018
Apparently Benfica is experiencing a tough season thus far and after a devastating European campaign, “The Eagles” remain focused over their domestic performance only. Moreover, Benfica has been eliminated by the Portuguese Cup, losing in extra-time to Rio Ave, only couple of days after suffering its sixth consecutive loss in the Champions League group stage. That’s not everything as Benfica failed to reach the League Cup semi-finals as well, drawing three times in the group games, which virtually means Rui Vitoria’s men are now engaged entirely to their title defense.
Two (2-2 in both occasions) of the mentioned three League Cup draws came in the festive period around Christmas and New Year, when Benfica couldn’t beat either Portimonense and Vitoria Setubal. The last one was in Setubal where Benfica accomlished a partial comeback after losing 0-2 on half-time, although it was a meaningless game as the hosts were already certain for the first position.
Sporting CP still dreams of winning the league for the first time since 2002 and “The Lions” were very close to live the dream two years ago, when exactly a narrow home defeat against Benfica has cost them the trophy in the end. Nevertheless, Sporting shows progress under management of Jorge Jesus and “The Green and Whites” are currently second in the standings, sharing the same number of points alongside Porto, remaining unbeaten in 15 rounds (12 wins, 3 draws).
Unlike its city rival, Sporting has a busy schedule in following weeks as Jorge Jesus’ men are committed to four different fronts. Just like Benfica, Sporting have been eliminated after the Champions League group stage but their third place in a highly competitive group (Barcelona, Juventus, Olympiacos) has earn them more European football in the UEFA Europa League where they will face FC Astana in mid-February.
Meanwhile, Sporting CP are still battling in both domestic Cups where they’ll face Cova Piedade (Portuguese Cup) and FC Porto (League Cup), respectively. This arouses a serious question whether Sporting’s coach has enough players to stay highly competitive in all the competitions? Only time will tell but one thing is sure – the Primeira Liga crown is the biggest challenge and also marks the highest priority.
Team News and Missing Players
Benfica lost just one league game so far and that was a 1-2 defeat when visiting Boavista in mid-September. That loss, surprisingly or not, marks the three-points distance between “Eagles” and their domestic rivals so a win here would not only level them to Sporting, but will boost team’s confidence before second half of the season.
A defeat, on the other hand, may cost them too much and Rui Vitoria feels some pressure.
Captain Luisão should be back and fit enough to replace Lisandro Lopez in the centre of defence. The Brazilian veteran has missed Benfica’s last league game (5-1 success vs Tondela away) but is likely to start alongside Jardel in the derby.
Matchday update: Luisão is not in Benfica’s 20-men match group so Lisandro Lopez looks favourite to be a starter, being in contention with youngster Ruben Dias.
No other changes are expected and Rui Vitoria will field his optimal XI – the same squad that scored five times vs Tondela and all eyes will be looking at experienced top scorer Jonas, who boasts 18 goals in 15 league games, thereby being individually the league goal scorer.
Sporting must find a way to stop Jonas who surely represents the biggest threat for their defense, but not the only one though. Jorge Jesus knows his abilities very well as he was the one who led Benfica in period 2009–2015, when Jonas arrived to Lisbon from Spanish Valencia in 2014.
The Argentine Jonathan Silva remains an only injury concern of Jorge Jesus but he has a player like Fabio Coentrão available at the left-back anyway.
Jesus is expected to name his regular starting XI with Bas Dost leading the line as he represents the biggest danger for Benfica’s defensive line, being the runner up in the goal scoring chart with 13 goals in 15 appearances. The trio behind him (in a 4-2-3-1 formation) should not be underestimated at all – Marcos Acuña, Gelson Martins and Bruno Fernandes are all fantastic footballers and can cause a terrible headache for every defense in that league. In case Jesus wants to refresh the line before or during the derby, he also has other attacking options such as Bruno César, Daniel Podence, Bryan Ruiz, Iuri Medeiros, Seydou Doumbia and Alan Ruiz who are all eager for more first-team football.
Benfica vs Sporting CP Prediction and Betting Tips
The Derby de Lisboa is usually anticipated with a huge enthusiasm from everyone, not just in the involved clubs, but the current league positioning is placing even greater stakes on the table. Benfica and Sporting CP need the three points and neither of them wants to lose the derby as well. This makes the draw a very favourable outcome, for Porto mostly, but for some reason we believe that both sides will score at least once in this encounter, which is normally a very unpredictable one.
Unlike both major league games earlier in the season (Sporting CP vs Porto and Porto vs Benfica), this time we expect some goals and our analysts recommend betting on the goal scoring markets. They have some of the most skilled players in Portugal and the two top scorers of the Primeira Liga. Our betting prediction is: “Both teams to score – Yes“.
Possible Lineups of Benfica and Sporting CP
Venue: “Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica”, Lisbon.
Referee: Hugo Miguel.
SL Benfica: Bruno Varela – Alejandro Grimaldo, Jardel, Lisandro Lopez, Andre Almeida – Filip Krovinovic, Ljubomir Fejsa, Pizzi – Franco Cervi, Jonas, Eduardo Salvio. (4-3-3)
Sporting CP: Rui Patrício – Cristiano Piccini, Sebastian Coates, Jeremy Mathieu, Fabio Coentrão – Rodrigo Battaglia, William Carvalho – Gelson Martins, Bruno Fernandes, Marcos Acuña – Bas Dost. (4-2-3-1)