In the first Derby de Lisboa of this Primeira Liga season, league leaders Benfica travel to face Sporting CP.
Benfica currently sit four points clear at the top of the table after 16 games having lost just once so far this season – to second-placed Porto.
Things haven’t been as positive for Sporting, who are 16 points behind their bitter rivals in fourth and even sit below Famaliaco who have shocked the Primeira Liga in their first season back in the top flight.
Read on for our Sporting CP vs Benfica preview, predictions, team news and TV coverage information.
When is Sporting vs Benfica and where can I watch live?
Competition: Primeira Liga
Venue: Estadio Jose Alvalade
Date: Friday, 17 January 2020
Kick-off: 9:15 PM (UK time)
TV coverage (UK): FreeSports
Last five meetings: Sporting vs Benfica
04 August 2019: Benfica 5-0 Sporting (Portuguese Super Cup)
03 April 2019: Sporting 1-0 Benfica (Portuguese Cup)
06 February 2019: Benfica 2-1 Sporting (Portuguese Cup)
03 February 2019: Sporting 2-4 Benfica (Primeira Liga)
25 August 2018: Benfica 1-1 Sporting (Primeira Liga)
Aggregate Score: Sporting (LWLLD) 5-12 Benfica (WLWWD)
Ones to watch
Sporting: Bruno Fernandes
Most neutral eyes in the build-up to this match will be on Bruno Fernandes, who appears to be on his way out. The Portuguese midfielder looks set to be on the verge of a move to Manchester United, having been linked with them in the summer. And this has only seen his reputation rise further, not least among Football Index traders.
Even with previous links to United, Fernandes’ value was £2.78 as of January 9th, 2020 – a respectable yet not remarkable price which would see him currently the 45th most valuable player. But instead, he is the 12th most valuable player on Football Index, having risen to £4.62 by January 17th, 2020 with traders buying him in anticipation of the expected United move.
Many expect Fernandes to slot straight into the United midfield, potentially proving a long-term replacement for Paul Pogba amid uncertainties around the Frenchman’s future. And the Portuguese midfielder would certainly be able to fill the gap having been crucial to Sporting’s attacking play this season.
But before any move is confirmed Fernandes will be focused on helping Sporting get one over on their rivals.
Key stat: Bruno Fernandes has been directly involved in 15 Primeira Liga goals this season, scoring eight and recording seven assists.
Benfica have been brilliant in the league this season and have so many of their stars performing. But perhaps the standout man has been Pizzi.
The 30-year-old midfielder has frequently captained Benfica this season and has been leading by example as the Primeira Liga’s top scorer this season. Causing problems from the right flank, the Portuguese either scored or assisted in his previous seven games and was involved in three of Benfica’s five goals against Sporting in the Super Cup earlier this season.
Key stat: Pizzi (20) has been directly involved in more Primeira Liga goals than any other player this season.
The big story going into the game is that Fernandes will be part of the Sporting squad, with manager Silas telling reporters: “The only certainty I have is that Bruno will be present.
We have prepared the game with him, he has trained very well, he is an extraordinary player, the best in the league.
“Only a catastrophe would see him miss this. He will be [there] as he always is.”
Sporting will, however, be without Luciano Vietto who picked up an injury last weekend and joins the suspended Sebastian Coates out. Everton loanee Yannick Bolasie is also expected to start.
Predicted XI: Maximiano; Ristovski, Ilori, Mathieu, Borja; Doumbia, Wendel, Fernandes; Bolasie, Phellype, Camacho.
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Benfica will, of course, now be without Gedson Fernandes after the midfielder joined Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur on loan.
But the Primeira Liga leaders have no fresh injury concerns should are expected to name a strong side as they look to compile misery on their rivals.
Predicted XI: Vlachodimos; Almeida, Dias, Ferro, Grimaldo; Pizzi, Gabriel, Weigl, Jota; Chiquinho; Seferovic.
With or without Bruno Fernandes, there is a growing gulf between these two sides and Sporting are in danger of moving further away from their rivals.
Benfica have been pretty perfect this season at both ends of the pitch, bar that sole defeat to Porto, scoring 40 and conceding just six.
If this does prove to be Fernandes’ final Sporting game, expect it to be an unhappy farewell as Benfica continue their quest to the title.