Benfica’s loss at home to Tondela last weekend all but ended their hopes of retaining the Portuguese title, with Porto now five clear at the summit with just two games to spare. It was always going to be an uphill battle for the Eagles, who have a tough trip to third placed Lisbon rivals Sporting on Saturday night. This huge capital city derby still has plenty on the line, despite the title race ending. These two sides are level on 77 points, and only one of them will make next season’s Champions League. Can Sporting’s home form deliver another blow to the champions?
Sporting have won 10 on the bounce at home, so they’re favourites to take the points on Saturday. Of course, that would move them in to the driving seat for Champions League football, and add another crushing disappointment to Benfica’s season. The visitors were awful in Europe, eliminated early from the cups and have twice shot themselves in the foot in the title race of late. Will this be yet another upset for the champions?
Well, Benfica have the vital experience needed to get over the line in the race for second, and they have some great form backing them up too. The Eagles haven’t lost in their last 13 away trips in the league, avoiding defeat in 15 of their 16 matches on the road this season. They make this trip unbeaten in six visits to the Jose Alvalade, so we see them ending Sporting’s run of form this weekend.
While Sporting have kicked up a gear in front of their own fans, they’ve been doing that against some poor sides. The best side they’ve beaten at home this term, Rio Ave, are still 30 points behind the Lions in the table. Meanwhile, Sporting are yet to beat a top four rival this season, whileBenfica haven’t lost at any of the top six. With the visitors having the edge in big games, recent meetings and with some strong form behind them, we think the Eagles are well priced on the double chance market ahead of this huge encounter.
While Sporting are going to have a tough time on Saturday, they should capitalise against a Benfica defence which has conceded in 75% of their away trips this season. That has us backing a 1-1 draw in this clash, while we’re also backing joy for forward Bas Dost. With seven goals in his last eight league starts, we’re expecting him to hurt the Eagles’ backline. We’re backing Dost to score any time this weekend, having struck 26 league goals already this season.