The action returns to the Primeira Liga for the first time in 2022, with Sporting CP getting the latest Portuguese top-flight round underway on Friday, taking on Santa Clara in the first game of the new calendar year.
The majority of the Matchday 17 fixtures will take place over the weekend, with three matches scheduled for Saturday while four will be staged on Sunday – Vitória Guimarães take on Gil Vicente on Monday in the sole midweek game.
All eyes will be on Benfica as the Portuguese giants look to shake off their turbulent end to the 2021 calendar year. Will the Eagles kick things off with a bang? Elsewhere, Porto will be keen on maintaining their stellar form but will be in for a tricky weekend showdown. Here's everything you need to know about the upcoming round of fixtures in the Primeira Liga.
Primeira Liga standings ahead of Matchday 17?
Top games to watch on Matchday 17 in the Primeira Liga
Santa Clara vs Sporting CP: Defending champions Sporting CP return to action on Friday, kicking off Matchday 17 in what will be their first game of the 2022 calendar year. The Lions will be making the trip to Santa Clara, with the goal of this match being to keep up pace, or potentially leapfrog, league leaders Porto whom they trail on goal difference alone. The Lisbon giants have not lost a single game this season and will visit a side hovering one point above the relegation playoff spot. Does a straight-forward victory await the title holders? Tune in to find out.
Estoril vs Porto: Despite sitting fifth in the table, the home side boast a single win to their name from their last six games. In fact, Estoril lost their most recent league fixture, going 1-0 down to Moreirense, meaning a bounce back is needed urgently. Unfortunately for them, their next opponents will be Porto, Portugal's most in-form club. The Dragons enter this clash on the back of their amazing 3-1 win over Benfica in the Primeira Liga, a result that meant the visitors kick off 2022 as the league leaders. Sérgio Conceição's men are on an 11-game winning streak, last dropping points in their 1-1 draw with Sporting CP back in September, and are thus the heavy favorites for this tie.
Benfica vs Paços de Ferreira: After a turbulent end to 2021 which saw them part ways with Jorge Jesus and lose back-to-back clashes against Porto, Benfica are aiming to get off to a great start in 2022. The Eagles kick things off at home to Pacos de Ferreira with the sole aim of returning to winning ways and slashing the seven-point gap between themselves and the top two teams in the league. Unfortunately, the visitors enter this clash on the back of a confidence-boosting 2-1 victory over Santa Clara, with Denilson scoring a brace to seal the three points.
Who's in and who's out?
Here are the list of players ruled out for the upcoming round from the Primeira Liga's top clubs:
Benfica: Rodrigo Pinho, Lucas Veríssimo, and Nemanja Radonjic (injured) Soualiho Meité, André Almeida, Pizzi, and Roman Yaremchuk (COVID-19)
Porto: Ivan Marcano, João Mário, Pepe, Wilson Manafa (al injured)
Sporting CP: Jovane Cabral and Ruben Vinagre (injured); Goncalo Inacio (COVID-19)
Estoril: Lucas Áfrico (injured); Francisco Geraldes (suspended)