It has been a long 11 years for Sporting since they last tasted glory in the Portuguese League. Adding to those frustrations, the Leoes haven't won a piece of silverware since the 2007/08 campaign, when they claimed the Portuguese Cup along with the Portuguese Supercup.
Since then, it has been a long and extremely emotional ride for the Sporting fans. A number of players have since left the club, with a significant number of players having joined the Lisbon side.
On Sunday night, all of the past, present and future means nothing for 90 minutes. Taking the field against same city rivals Benfica, Sporting only has their pride to play for.
Jorge Jesus' side has enjoyed great success this season up until this point, but all of that can quickly come undone in a matter of a few matches.
Benfica's four point lead in the Portuguese League allows them some cushion, but knowing they have to take on Sporting and then travel to Porto in a few weeks will not give them any guarantees. Dealing with a Sporting side who realistically has nothing to lose could prove to be more frustrating and difficult than they would like, but that is what makes rivalries so interesting.
The last five derby matches in all competitions between these two sides have ended in glory for Benfica, while the visitors have only managed to put in one goal. That lone goal came in the semi-final of the League Cup when Benfica won 2-1. Helder Postiga, current Real Zaragoza striker scored the only goal for Sporting, with Oscar Cardozo and Javi Garcia giving Benfica the win.
Two of the three players stated above will not take part in the match on Sunday, but the one that will, Oscar Cardozo, tends to enjoy these matches. In the last five matches, the Paraguay international has netted four goals, making him a big threat on Sunday.
As I mentioned before, this match is a highly anticipated match every year, regardless of how each team is doing at the current moment. While Sporting has not had the greatest campaign, Benfica is on the verge of reclaiming a Portuguese title that has been missing for two years, the same title Sporting has been chasing for the last 11 years.
This match will not dictate the league winner, nor will it dictate a relegation, but what it will do is bring together a city that has for quite sometime been divided. Regardless of all the professional soccer teams within Lisbon, Benfica and Sporting remain the two biggest when it comes to fan base. But, if you were to divide the fan base among the two, the Aguias would most likely take 3/4 of the popularity vote in the Portuguese capital.
Who will win on Sunday? That question will only be answered with complete certainty after the match, but one thing is a guarantee; there is probably nothing more that Sporting would want than to derail Benfica's title hopes in their own stadium.
What is your most memorable moment between these two sides?
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