Sporting Lisbon v Benfica: Tough win for the visitors the likely outcome

Benfica celebrate another goal
Pizzi (21) is even at the heart of the celebrations

It's been a long time since the hosts won this fixture and that's unlikely to change here with Benfica looking good for another victory but not without conceding, says Jamie Pacheco...

"But the best indication of all might be that Porto match where they were able to score but were outplayed for most of the match, proving that the Lions aren’t quite at the same level as their two deadly rivals these days."

Sporting Lisbon v Benfica
Friday January 17, 21:15
Live on Freesports

Is Fernandes finally off?

Star man and skipper Bruno Fernandes may be off to the Premier League.

He's clearly up for the move after everything he's been through over the last three years or so and Sporting are ready to let him go but given he's their crown jewel, only for the right price. Manchester United are currently the hot favourites to sign him.

The plan on Sporting's side seems to be to secure a load of cash plus one or two players (presumably on loan), with Andreas Pereira apparently their number one target. It will be interesting to see if a deal gets struck before this match but if it doesn't, Fernandes will surely play.

A couple of weeks' ago they lost at home to Porto but bounced back with a good 3-1 win at Setubal last weekend. Fernandes scored two.

sporting lisbon lineup.jpg

Benfica keep on getting over the line

Benfica are top of the table in the Portuguese Superliga but just four points clear of Porto, so it's all to play for.

The important thing for them, obvious as it sounds, is that they keep on winning. But there have been some close shaves of late, suggesting that it's been their hunger, stamina and ability to handle pressure that's got them where they are rather than ruthless and immaculate football.

Tuesday night (in the Cup) was the third match in a row where they won by the single goal and in the last two they needed to come from behind to win, on both occasions leaving it to the last 10 minutes to find the winner.

Crucial to the whole operation is midfielder and captain Pizzi. A lack of pace will probably prevent him making a move to one of the biggest leagues but he's far too good for this one right now. There doesn't seem to be a match these days where he fails to score or provide an assist.

The hero on Tuesday night was Haris Seferovic, though. Coming off the bench, he scored the second and third goals in a 3-2 win over Rio Ave and will surely be back in the starting line-up for this one.

Gedson Fernandes has left to join Tottenham on an 18-month loan.

Benfica own Sporting in this fixture

Sporting are 3.55 to win the game on home soil and at first glance, that looks a bit big. Or does it?

You'd have to go back to November 2015 for the last time they beat them in any match, which was precisely ten matches ago.

They played each other four times last season- two on the league, two in the Cup- with Benfica winning three and drawing one; one of those wins was at the Alvalade Stadium and by 4-2.

Worse was to come. In the Portuguese Super Cup, played in a neutral venue, Benfica spanked them 5-0.

The more we consider that Sporting price in light of these results, the less we like it. Benfica are 2.111/10 with the draw 3.711/4. Benfica's price is therefore the appealing one but probably not quite appealing enough.

'Overs' gets the nod

The market is finding it hard to split 'overs' and 'unders'. You can see why. Six of the last ten between these two went 'unders,' while that's countered by the fact that 71% of Sporting's home fixtures went 'overs' this season. As did 57% of Benfica's away games so overs would get the nod and if you really want to play this market, that would be the way to go.

But we can do better than that.

Benfica concede, Benfica win

A slightly better approach would be to look at recent patterns suggesting Benfica are likely to concede to concede a goal here but win anyway.

That's the way their last two home games went and the stats show that Sporting concede more often than not at home, with just three clean sheets from seven this campaign. Two of those seven resulted in losses with both teams scoring, another clue as to how this might pan out.

But the best indication of all might be that Porto match where they were able to score but were outplayed for most of the match, proving that the Lions aren't quite at the same level as their two deadly rivals these days.

Bruno Luge - Benfica, 1280.jpg

If this game goes along the ae route, a Benfica win with both team scoring looks like a very lively runner indeed. At least enough to warrant a bet on it at 3/1.

Lions can roar first

What might also be worth a look is Sporting scoring the first goal at 5/4. There have been some pretty sluggish starts from Benfica of late and it's not out of the question that the hosts realise their best chance of getting something from the game being to try to catch Benfica cold and then trying to manage their lead, if they can get that all-important breakthrough.

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