Sporting go to face Benfica at the Luz for one of the most anticipated derby games in recent years.
It’s been a long, long time since Sporting have picked up a win outside of the Alvalade, in fact the last time Sporting did win in the Luz was way back in January 2006. That day Ricardo Sá Pinto (now the U19 coach) and Liédson got the goals that day in a 3-1 victory.
The last time the two sides met with Benfica at home in the league was last September with Óscar Cardozo scoring a brace for the Eagles that day.
Sporting though are very different side now and this game provides Domingos Paciência with his first derby and it will also be the first derby experience for a large portion of this revitalised side.
In match news it seems Benfica will be without captain Luisão after he was injured in Benfica’s 2-2 draw away to Manchester United with Miguel Vítor likely to be his replacement. Javier Saviola may return after his injury but will probably have to make do with sitting on the bench.
For Sporting Oguchi Onyewu and Ânderson Polga seem to be Paciência’s preferred pair at the back with Alberto Rodríguez not quite yer recovered and Daniel Carriço seemingly further down the pecking order.
Midfield is likely to be the same as that against Braga with André Santos as the deepest midfielder and joined alongside Stijn Schaars and Elias.
Paciência also has to decide whether to play Matías Fernández or perhaps André Carrillo on the right hand side of midfield with Jeffrén still not fit. Diego Capel and Ricky van Wolfswinkel are almost certain to retain their roles.
This is no doubt Sporting’s best chance to get something from Benfica in sometime with a massively improved squad in great form having amassed 12 wins out of their last 13 games. It also gives Sporting a chance to leapfrog Benfica in the league table and should Porto slip against Braga then perhaps finish the weekend on top of the table.
Possible SPORTING XI:
João Pereira – Ânderson Polga – Oguchi Onyewu – Emiliano Insúa
André Santos – Stijn Schaars
Diego Capel – Elias – Matías Fernández
Ricky van Wolfswinkel