FC Porto and Benfica will lock horns on Sunday night in the Portuguese Liga Zon Sagresâ€™ version of El Clasico. The campaign is only entering its 10th match-day, but the title could virtually be decided already.
FC Porto are leading the pace with 25 points in the table thanks to their undefeated record which includes 8 victories out of 9 matches. Benfica, meanwhile, are 7 points behind their bitter rivals ahead of Sunday nightâ€™s titanic clash. Porto mathematically have an opportunity to open a 10-point lead over Benfica â€“ something which will all but end the Eaglesâ€™ flight, on a psychological point of view especially.
Sundayâ€™s visitors have already lost twice away from home this season but since going down 2-1 at Guimaraes back in September, theyâ€™ve started building a strong record with 5 wins on the trot. Theyâ€™ll have to hit victory number 6 if they want to minimize the distance that separates them from Portugalâ€™s Liga Zon Sagresâ€™ leaders FC Porto.
The reigning champions have all the pressure to perform and get a result at the Estadio do Dragao; a point wonâ€™t be enough â€“ victory is a must for Benfica.
But how will they break down Portoâ€™s strength at home? How will they stop the flow that has seen Sundayâ€™s host thrash Uniao de Leiria 5-1 lately to maintain their 100% record at the Estadio do Dragao?
Benfica's 3-1 defeat in Porto in May didn't mean much as they still clinched the Portuguese Liga Zon Sagres' title. But this time, its memories will give more reason for Benfica fans to be wary and anxious ahead of this weekendâ€™s rivalry battle.
Perhaps, though, players like Fabio Coentrao and Maxi Pereira will answer the prayers of the clubâ€™s supporters with heroic displays at the back against Porto. But realistically speaking, does Benficaâ€™s defensive line have what it takes to contain the likes of September and Octoberâ€™s Player of the Month award winner Hulk?
The Brazilian has been in tremendous form this season, humiliating defenders and tearing down opponentsâ€™ half with his thunder runs. Predictions are that Hulk will be at the center of yet another victory for Porto against rivals Benfica whereas Alan Kardec, Pablo Aimar and Martins are under pressure to be at their best so as to redeem their teamâ€™s title aspirations.
Three points for Benfica will not only defy the predictions of footballâ€™s pundits and public, but it will also help them carry on as they look forward to defending their Portuguese Liga Zon Sagres trophy. Meanwhile, FC Porto will have the right to put one hand on the title with a victory on Sunday night.
Would it be real to imagine the Dragons squandering a 10-point lead away for Benfica to claim the leagueâ€™s title come May? Well, that would be a miracle for the Eaglesâ€¦