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Primeira Liga | Gameweek 24
Mar 3, 2024 at 8.30pm UK
Estadio Do Dragao

5 - 0

Galeno (20', 44'), Wendell (55'), Pepe (75'), Loader (90')
Conceicao (12'), Gonzalez (79')
FT(HT: 2-0)

Morato (32'), Otamendi (52')
Otamendi (61')

Preview: Porto vs. Benfica - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Primeira Liga clash between Porto and Benfica, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Porto will be desperate to gain ground on bitter rivals Benfica at the top of the Portuguese Primeira Liga table when they meet at Estadio do Dragao on Sunday.

The visitors moved two points clear at the summit last weekend, with Porto nine points behind their forthcoming opponents.

Match preview

FC Porto's Galeno celebrates scoring their first goal on February 21, 2024© Reuters

Indeed, if Porto are to stand any realistic chance of reclaiming the Portuguese Primeira Liga from their rivals, then they surely must defeat them this weekend.

Remaining nine points behind them - or even worse falling 12 points behind - with only 10 league games of the season left would almost certainly prove an insurmountable task, especially with Sporting Lisbon sandwiched in between the two sides.

Sergio Conceicao's side were frustratingly held to a 1-1 draw away to Gil Vicente last weekend, with Thomas Luciano rescuing a point for the hosts in the fourth minute of injury time.

Evanilson had capped a dominant display by breaking the deadlock 10 minutes after the break, but Gil Vicente converted their only shot on target across the course of the encounter to snatch an unlikely draw.

Having defeated last season's Premier League runners-up Arsenal courtesy of their own injury-time strike by Galeno just four days prior, the draw against Gil Vicente represented something of a comedown.

However, Conceicao and his players will be relishing the return trip to North London, with his side boasting an excellent opportunity of reaching the Champions League quarter-finals.

They also have a cup semi-final tie to look forward to after dispatching Santa Clara 2-1 away from home on Thursday evening; the match was postponed after 27 minutes due to bad weather last month, and Conceicao's men will have to surpass Vitoria Guimaraes to set up a final showdown against either Sporting or Benfica.

Their attention will firmly revert back to league duties on Sunday, though, especially as it is almost certainly last chance saloon for their hopes of lifting the Portuguese title for the 31st time in the club's history.

Benfica's Angel Di Maria celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates on February 15, 2024© Reuters

Benfica, of course, extended their record to 38 titles by edging out Porto on the final day of last season - their first title triumph since the 2018-19 campaign, which ended a dominant run of five titles in six seasons.

Roger Schmidt became the first German manager to win the Primeira Liga in the process, and the former Bayer Leverkusen boss has become a hugely popular figure in the red-supporting half of Lisbon. Benfica fans will be desperate to ensure that their city rivals Sporting do not pip them to the title this time around.

The Eagles took a big step towards making that hope a reality last weekend by thrashing Portimonense 4-0, which saw them move two points clear of Sporting due to their 3-3 draw away to Rio Ave.

Rafa Silva bagged a brace at Estadio da Luz, while David Neres and Angel Di Maria also got themselves on the scoresheet during a rampant second-half performance.

However, they were brought back down to Earth by losing 2-1 away to Sporting in the first leg of their Taca de Portugal semi-final clash on Thursday evening.

Pedro Goncalves and Viktor Gyokeres had given the hosts a two-goal cushion, but Fredrik Aursnes pulled one back to provide plenty of hope ahead of the reverse leg at Estadio da Luz in early April.

Benfica could find themselves kicking off in Porto in second place should Sporting defeat SC Farense earlier on Sunday as expected, but in that scenario avoiding defeat against Porto would prove enough to move themselves back above their rivals.

However, with Sporting still possessing a game in hand, Schmidt and his players will almost certainly be aiming to earn all three points on Sunday.

Porto Primeira Liga form:

Porto form (all competitions):

Benfica Primeira Liga form:

Benfica form (all competitions):

Team News

Porto coach Sergio Conceicao reacts on February 21, 2024© Reuters

Porto will remain without Zaidu Sanusi and Ivan Marcano due to ACL injuries, with neither defender expected to play again this season.

Iran striker Mehdi Taremi is also facing a race against time to feature before March's international break as he continues to recover from a thigh issue.

As such, Evanilson will continue to lead the line having reached double figures in the league for the season by bagging against Gil Vicente last weekend, but the likes of Galeno and Nico Gonzalez could return to the starting XI after only being used from the bench during that draw.

Benfica, meanwhile, will travel without Juan Bernat due to a muscle injury, but otherwise Schmidt appears to have a fully fit squad at his disposal.

Florentino Luis could be called upon for his industry and defensive ability in a deep-lying midfield role, especially having been used sparsely in recent weeks. That would free Joao Mario up to occupy a role higher up the pitch alongside Silva in Schmidt's striker-less system.

Porto possible starting lineup:
Costa; Mario, Pepe, Otavio, Wendell; Varela, Gonzalez; Conceicao, Pepe, Galeno; Evanilson

Benfica possible starting lineup:
Trubin; Bah, Silva, Otamendi, Morato; Neves, Luis; Di Maria, Mario, Neres; Silva

SM words green background

We say: Porto 1-1 Benfica

Both teams are lacking a target man due to Taremi's injury and Schmidt's fluid band of diminutive wingers, meaning we should see an entertaining game with both sides aiming to keep the ball on the deck for the most part.

This match is nearly always a fiery affair and with so much at stake at the top of the table, we do not envisage this meeting being any different.

The visitors will be confident having won eight of their last nine league matches, but we think they may drop points in one of their most difficult games of the season on Sunday.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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rhs 2.0
Today's games header
Tables header RHS
1Sporting Lisbon29252284275777
5Vitoria de GuimaraesGuimaraes29176645291657
9Casa Pia2988132941-1232
10SC FarenseFarense2987143841-331
11Rio AveRio Ave2951593137-630
13Estoril PraiaEstoril2985164350-729
14Gil Vicente2977153648-1228
15Estrela Amadora29610133145-1428

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