Preview: Benfica vs. Famalicao

Preview: Benfica vs. Famalicao

Seeking to pick up a seventh consecutive league victory, Benfica go head to head with Famalicao at the Estadio da Luz in round 23 of the Primeira Liga on Friday.

While As Aguias set out to take another step closer to the league title, they will also be looking to keep morale high as they prepare for next week’s Champions League last-16 second-leg clash against Belgian side Club Brugge.

Having taken over the reins from former manager Nelson Verissimo last summer, German tactician Roger Schmidt was tasked with guiding Benfica to their first league title since 2019.

The 55-year-old, who enjoyed successful spells with Red Bull Salzburg, Beijing Guoan and most-recently PSV Eindhoven, has performed admirably, with the Lisbon outfit well on course for a record-extending 38th Primeira Liga title.

With Porto suffering a shock 2-1 home loss against Gil Vicente last weekend, Schmidt watched on as Benfica extended their lead at the top of the league table to eight points courtesy of last Saturday’s 2-0 victory away to Vizela.

While Benfica were given a run for their money, former Inter Milan forward Joao Mario came up clutch at the Estadio do FC Vizela as he scored on either side of the half-time interval to hand the visitors an impressive sixth consecutive league victory.

As Aguias have also enjoyed a solid campaign in Europe, where they secured a 2-0 win over Club Brugge in Belgium last week to place one foot in the quarter-finals of the Champions League after finishing as winners of Group H with 14 points from a possible 18.

With 12 games to go before the curtains are drawn on the 2022-23 Primeira Liga campaign, Benfica, who are unbeaten in 21 of their 22 matches so far, currently sit at the summit of the table with 59 points from a possible 66.

Meanwhile, after stumbling into the season, Famalicao have upped the ante in the business half of the campaign and could even mount a late charge for the Europa Conference League qualification places.

Joao Pedro Sousa’s men lost five of their opening seven games of the season while winning just once that time, and picked up just four league victories heading into the second half of the season.

However, Famalicao turned their fortunes around in 2023, recording four league wins since the turn of the year while also claiming victories over Leixoes and Belenenses respectively to reach the semi-finals of the Taca de Portugal.

The Vila Nova head into the weekend off the back of picking up successive Primeira Liga wins for the first time this year courtesy of a 1-0 victory over Portimonense when the sides met last Friday.

January signing Leandro Sanca turned in a superb cameo at the Estadio Municipal de Famalicao as he came off the bench to grab an 85th-minute winner and hand the visitors their 12th defeat of the season.

Famalicao have now picked up eight wins, three draws and lost 11 of their 22 matches to collect 27 points and sit 10th in the Primeira Liga table, level on points with ninth-placed Rio Ave and 10 points off the Europa Conference League qualification places.

While Sousa’s side will be looking to pick up a third consecutive league win for the first time since last May, they face the stern challenge of taking on a Benfica side who are unbeaten in their last nine encounters, claiming six wins and three draws since December 2019.

Benfica Primeira Liga form:

Benfica form (all competitions):

Famalicao Primeira Liga form:

Famalicao form (all competitions):

We say: Benfica 3-0 Famalicao
While Famalicao will look to keep the ball rolling, they face a Benfica side who have been near impenetrable on home turf this season. As Aguias have been imperious in the history of this fixture and we are backing them to ease to another victory.

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