Round 17 or the Primeira Liga kicks off at the Estadio de Sao Miguel Stadium when Santa Clara play host to high-flying Sporting Lisbon on Friday.
Currently sitting one point above the relegation places, the visitors head into the game on a six-game losing streak against the reigning champions and will look to end this miserable run.
Santa Clara were sent crashing back down to earth last Thursday when they suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Pacos de Ferreira at the Estadio Capital do Movel.
In an action-packed contest, Hidemasa Morita scored on the stroke of half time to put the visitors in front going into the break before in-form forward Denilson netted his fourth and fifth goals of the season in the second half to turn the game on its head.
Prior to that, Santa Clara claimed a hard-earned 1-0 win over a resilient Vitoria de Guimaraes side on home turf as newly-appointed manager Tiago Sousa kicked off his stint at the club on a promising note.
However, the defeat last time out highlights one of Santa Clara’s major frailties this season as they have struggled to get going at the defensive end of the pitch, where they boast the division’s second-worst record with 32 goals conceded.
The Azoreans have won three, drawn four and lost nine of their 16 matches this season to collect 13 points, which has left them one point above Moreirense in the relegation playoff spot.
While Santa Clara will look to return to winning ways and move clear of the drop zone, they gave the daunting task of going up against a rampant Sporting Lisbon side who have won each of the last six meetings between the teams.
Meanwhile, Sporting Lisbon maintained their impressive title charge as they fought back from behind to secure a thrilling 3-2 victory over 10-man Portimonense at the Estadio Jose Alvalade.
Matheus Reis scored an own goal to hand the visitors the lead heading into the interval, but Portuguese forward Paulinho turned in a performance of the highest quality after the break as he hit a hat-trick before Lucas Possignolo pulled one back with the final significant touch of the game.
This followed a 2-1 win away to Segunda Liga side Casa Pia on December 22 when Sebastian Coates and Pablo Sarabia netted to cancel out Jota Silva’s opener and send the Leoes through to the quarter-finals.
Ruben Amorim’s side have now won each of their last five games across all competitions, scoring 11 goals and keeping three clean sheets since a 4-2 defeat against Ajax in the Champions League on December 7.
Sporting Lisbon are currently unbeaten so far and with 44 points from 16 games, they occupy second place on the log, level on points with title-chasing Porto but behind on goal difference.
Santa Clara Primeira Liga form:
Santa Clara form (all competitions):
Sporting Lisbon Primeira Liga form:
Sporting Lisbon form (all competitions):
We say: Santa Clara 0-3 Sporting Lisbon
Santa Clara continue to struggle for consistency in the Primeira Liga and find themselves languishing just above the drop zone. Sporting Lisbon head into Friday’s game on a brilliant run of results against the hosts, and considering the level of strength and experience between the two sides, we anticipate Amorim’s men will extend their dominance in this fixture.