Two of the biggest sides in Portuguese football go for glory in the Taca da Liga when Benfica and Sporting Lisbon lock horns in the cup final at the Estadio Dr. Magalhaes Pessoa on Saturday.
The Derby de Lisboa is one of the fiercest rivalries in Portugal and both sides met at this stage of the competition back in 2009, when Benfica saw off the Leoes on penalties following a 1-1 draw in extra time to clinch their first-ever title.
Benfica made it through to the final of the Taca da Liga by the skin of their teeth as they needed penalties to brush aside a dogged Boavista side when they locked horns in the semi-finals last Tuesday.
In a thrilling contest, Everton and Gustavo Sauer scored for either side to finish the first 90 minutes level, and with nothing to separate them after extra time, As Aguias claimed a 3-2 win on penalties with Julian Weigl scoring the crucial strike.
Benfica are now unbeaten in each of their last four games in all competitions, picking up two wins and two draws since a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Porto in the Primeira Liga back in December.
Nelson Verissimo’s men, who are the most decorated side in the history of the Taca da Liga with seven titles under their belt, will feel confident of extending their record as they take on an opposing side who they are unbeaten against in the history of the competition, claiming two wins and one draw from three games.
Sporting Lisbon, on the other hand, have enjoyed a fine domestic campaign so far and will be looking to pick up their second piece of silverware after the Super Cup win over Braga at the start of the season.
The Leoes, who are currently second in the Primeira Liga table, cruised through the Taca da Liga group stages, claiming successive wins over Famalicao and Penafiel to finish top of Group B.
Sporting Lisbon put on a resilient performance in the semi-finals as they came from behind to claim a 2-1 victory over Santa Clara when the sides met at the Estadio Dr. Magalhaes Pessoa last Wednesday.
In a game where Rui Costa received his marching orders, Mikel Villanueva scored an own goal to restore parity and end the first half level eight minutes after Lincoln’s 32nd-minute opener, before Pablo Sarabia calmly slotted home his 65th-minute penalty to turn the game around.
Sporting Lisbon head into Saturday’s game on a run of eight wins from their last 10 games in all competitions, scoring 22 goals in that time and keeping five clean sheets.
Ruben Amorim’s men, who have lifted the Taca da Liga trophy on three different occasions, will now be looking to celebrate a second consecutive title victory after defeating Braga 1-0 when the sides met in last season’s final.
However, they face the daunting task of going up against Benfica away from home, where they have managed just one win in their last eight visits, losing five and picking up two draws in that time.
Benfica Taca da Liga form:
Benfica form (all competitions):
Sporting Lisbon Taca da Liga form:
Sporting Lisbon form (all competitions):
We say: Benfica 1-2 Sporting Lisbon
Saturday’s game sees two of the “Big Three” in Portugal square off for cup glory and we can expect an entertaining contest with plenty of goalmouth action. However, we are backing Sporting Lisbon to come away with a narrow win and extend their dominance domestically.