Just when everything seemed to be heading in the right direction for Jorge Jesus and his side, it now appears ready to fall apart right before his eyes. Could Benfica potentially lose out on two of the three titles they are chasing within a week?
A hard fought victory over Maritimo had Benfica well on their way to winning a 33rd league title. The players came together in the middle of the pitch at the Estádio dos Barreiros to celebrate what many believed to be a crucial match for the Lisbon side. Little did they know that things were about to get really interesting.
Their match at home against Estoril was by no means a guaranteed victory, but having kept their lead at four points over Porto, it was extremely difficult to imagine Benfica dropping points at home, with just three matches remaining.
Monday night, the Portuguese League leader's will welcome Pacos de Ferreira to the Estadio da Luz for the second leg of the Portuguese Cup. A two goal lead will have Benfica fans confident of booking their place at the Estadio do Jamor, but Pacos de Ferreira will not go down easily.
Needing to score three goals without conceding, Paulo Fonseca knows that the chances of his side eliminating Benfica will not be easy, but they are fully confident that anything can happen.
"The chances of us winning at the Estadio da Luz are very slim, although we all believe that we can do it," Fonseca told reporters.
"At home, Benfica has performed very well along with their positive results. We are at a disadvantage but we are no going to give up. We want to continue to leave a good impression, without losing our identity."
When you think of the Portuguese National Team, it is almost impossible to think of anything other than Cristiano Ronaldo. Unfortunately for the Real Madrid forward, he is not always able to put the nation on his back and carry them forward, leaving a lot of questions to be asked of Portugal's strikers.
From Hugo Almeida to Helder Postiga, Paulo Bento is not left with a pure goal scorer, making things extremely difficult in front of goal. While Hugo Almeida has the size, he is not all that convincing in front of goal, and does not always make things easy on himself.
Everything started so well for Portugal on Friday when they took an early lead over Israel. That one goal lead quickly turned into a one goal draw, then a 2-1 deficit and then a 3-1 deficit, leaving Portuguese fans frustrated and annoyed, but most of all, some fans were not very surprised.
Luckily for Paulo Bento, the Portuguese were able to rally late and tie the match at three goals, but that still leaves the Lusitanos in third place, even on eight points with Israel, who will take on Northern Ireland in their next match.
Portugal will travel to Azerbaijan to take on Berti Vogts' side who is fifth with three draws and two losses. The hosts have only played one match at home in Baku, and they managed a 1-1 draw against Israel, the same Israel that just scored three goals against Portugal.
Miami Beach, Florida (March 24, 2013) – A few days after Friday’s intense UEFA World Cup qualifying action, Europe’s teams will engage in another round of fixtures. The 2014 FIFA World Cup is everyone’s dream but several teams are in better position than others. The road to Brazil is an interesting one for all contenders. Hence, live coverage for the UEFA World Cup qualifiers is huge. Gol TV USA, ESPN Deportes, ESPN3 and Sportsnet World are some of the big channels listed by LiveSoccerTV.com (@LiveSoccerTV) for the fixtures on Tuesday, March 26, 2013.
Paulo Bento’s team will be in Azerbaijan, looking to add more to the vital point they earned in a 3-3 draw against Israel. What are the Portuguese’s chances of winning in the absence of suspended skipper Cristiano Ronaldo? Watch Azerbaijan vs Portugal live at 13:00 EST on Sportsnet in Canada and on ESPN Deportes or ESPN3 in USA.
With another World Cup Qualification round, comes more nervous moments for a Portuguese side that tends to only hit their stride on the big stage. Time after time Portugal goes through qualifying with some trouble, but they somehow manage to get through.
Even on seven points, Portugal and Israel can earn themselves a three point cushion with a victory on Friday.
Paulo Bento knows that the next two matches are highly important for the Portuguese, so he has made sure that his squad is set on earning six points from both matches.
"What we need to do is obvious, we need to win," the former Portuguese International told reporters.
Miami Beach, Florida (March 20, 2013) – The 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers resume on Friday, March 22, 2013. The action begins with the live broadcast of Israel vs Portugal at 14:45 local time. LiveSoccerTV.com (@LiveSoccerTV) has listed 19 countries where this European World Cup qualifier will air live.
Israel and Portugal share the second spot in Group F but Friday’s hosts have the upper hand due to the goal difference factor. Israel’s run in the 2014 FIFA World Cup has been very inconsistent. They commenced with an unconvincing 1-1 draw away to Azerbaijan before terribly losing 4-0 at home to Russia. However, they took full advantage of Luxembourg’s weakness in the next matches – winning 6-0 away and 3-0 at home in their double header.
Miami Beach, Florida (February 5, 2013) – LiveSoccerTV.com has ensured its users with top quality information on live and repeat television broadcast listings in over 80 countries worldwide ahead of tomorrow’s international friendly matches across the globe.
Soccer fans have been treated with intense club football action since the beginning of the year. On February 6, players will don their country’s colours as a host of national teams keep building plans ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
Big guns from South America and Europe are set to engage in thrilling friendly matches. Seven of the most gigantic clashes are Spain vs Uruguay, Netherlands vs Italy, Sweden vs Argentina, England vs Brazil, France vs Germany, Portugal vs Ecuador and Ireland Republic vs Poland.
Portugal and Ecuador will go head to head on Wednesday for the first time ever. The Portuguese are ranked 7th in the latest FIFA ranking while Ecuador is 12th, the highest ranking they have ever had in their history.
Not only is Ecuador's 12th position shocking, but the fact that they are second in South America only behind Argentina who is ranked third is very impressive. They have managed to surpass countries like Brazil and Uruguay who have had a serious impact in world football over the years.
Ecuador's manager Reinaldo Rueda expects to see a well played match between two great teams.
Jorge Jesus and his squad will be looking to take another step towards winning the Taca de Portugal, a title that has been missing from the Benfica trophy case since they defeated Porto 1-2 at the Estadio Nacional do Jamor in May of 2004.
Goals from Simao Sabrosa and Greek international Fyssas canceled out a 45th minute goal from Derlei, handing the Lisbon side their record setting 24th Taca de Portugal title.
Since then, Benfica has not been able to reclaim the title, but Jorge Jesus is determined to win his first Taca de Portugal of his managerial career. The Portuguese manager came close during the 2006/07 season when he led Belenenses to the final, but a late goal from Liedson gave Sporting CP the title.
Having played each other not to long ago, Academica will be aware of the difficulties they will encounter with Benfica coming to town. The hosts will also have to make sure they don't have any mental lapses defensively which could cost them dearly.
In their previous match for the Taca da Liga, Academica actually had a 1-2 lead over Benfica, only to see that come undone late in the second half.
Pedro Emanuel's side played compact on the defensive side of the ball, allowing themselves to use their pace on the counter attack which caused Benfica some significant problems throughout the match. Playing at home, the Academica players will be expected to be up for this match.
Even if Jorge Jesus needed luck in the Dragons’ latest match, the truth is that the victory was mainly the reward of the geniality between Colombia’s James Rodríguez and Jackson Martínez who built the two goals.
In that encounter, Porto proved much stronger during the first half an hour, but SC Braga’s reaction in the second period almost denied Vitor Pereira's team of snatching three points. In other words, Braga virtually lost their Portuguese Primeira Liga title fight during the last ten minutes.
Get your printable guide – Portuguese Primeira Liga Matchday 10
The difference between giants Porto and Benfica continues to be non-existent at the top of the table. Both are locked on 23 points from a possible 27. The Dragons and the Eagles are yet to face defeat. This weekend, Benfica will host Olhanense before Porto take on Sporting Braga in a much anticipated fixture.
Meanwhile, Sporting Lisbon continue to struggle in 10th position. They will be away to Moreirense next Monday. Pacos de Ferreira and Maritimo will close Matchday 10 with a battle on November 27.
To view all Portuguese Primeira Liga TV listings, including repeat broadcasts, visit the Primeira Liga competition page.
The following TV listings are limited to US, UK and Canadian broadcasts:
Maicon, Fernando and Alex Sandro are still out of the FC Porto roster. The three players are recovering from injuries and will not travel to Madeira. James Rodríguez and Jackson Martínez, who both flew in South America to play with the Colombian national team, have been called up and will probably play in the starting eleven.
In the Nacional team, Moreno is suspended. He will be replaced by Brazil’s Isael. After a great performance at Guimarães, Angolan player Mateus is set to gain a start.
The Portuguese Cup is a trophy that FC Porto love to win. Playing in Madeira will not be easy for the Dragons, mostly because Manuel Machado's men are now very confident, after winning in a league match in Guimarães.
Moreirense have two players on the injury list. They are midfielder Pintassilgo and striker André Luiz. Castro is also not part of Casquilha's options. As usual in cup matches, Ricardo Ribeiro will be replaced by Ricardo Andrade in post.
The good news is the return of Luisão, who was suspended during the last two months. With some of the players out of the training sessions, due to the midweek international matches, Benfica manager Jorge Jesus is expected to present big changes in Benfica's starting eleven.
The biggest omission in this game has to be Cristiano Ronaldo. The 27-year-old Portugal captain fractured his left eyelid while playing for Real Madrid in La Liga last Saturday. This was the result of an elbow challenge by Levante’s David Nevarro during the early moments of the game.
Ronaldo opened the score line with a 21st minute strike in a game that finished 2-1 in favour of Los Blancos. The injured player was substituted at half-time as coach Jose Mourinho took precaution measures.
Reports indicated that Cristiano Ronaldo would undergo tests to his eyes following news that he had lost vision. News broke out on Monday afternoon, confirming the exclusion of the Portuguese icon from the Gabon friendly.
Portuguese Primeira Liga Matchday 7 - Soccer TV listings printable guide
The fierce race between FC Porto and Benfica is not meant to stop anytime soon. Both sides are neck and neck having clinched four wins and two draws each since the start of the season. Portugal’s top two giants remain unbeaten. In Saturday’s late match, Gil Vicente will try their luck against the Eagles who want to open up a three-point gap at the summit.
FC Porto will only play a day later against an Estoril team that has scored 10 goals and conceded 11 in 540 minutes of Portuguese Primeira Liga football. By the time a ball gets kicked in that match, Sporting Braga could be tied on 14 points like FC Porto. Braga squandered a 2-0 lead at Old Trafford in the Champions League. They will be looking to throw their fury on Maritimo on Sunday.
Sporting Lisbon’s seventh test in the Liga Sagres comes up on Monday against eighth-placed Academica. The hosts are struggling and are yet to grab their second victory in the league.
To view all Portuguese Primeira Liga listings, including repeat broadcasts, visit the Liga Sagres competition page.
The following TV listings are limited to US and Canadian broadcasts.
Spain vs France and Poland vs England are the highlights of today’s fixtures. However, each group holds much excitement.
In Belgium, the fruits of a well-structured football project are showing off. Players like Arsenal’s Thomas Vermaelen and Chelsea’s Edin Hazard are determined to make an appearance at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Despite the challenge posed by Croatia and Serbia, Belgium seat on top of Group A.
|WC QUALIFICATION EUROPE: GROUP A 2014|