If SL Benfica can defeat FC Porto on Saturday they will close the gap to the Liga leaders to one point. That seemed unlikely after a poor start to the season left the Eagles well adrift of the champions.
In fact Porto won all eight opening games to go as many points ahead of the Lisbon club. But while Porto have since been held twice, their fellow unbeaten contenders Benfica are on a run of five straight wins and are now within four points of the leaders. José Antonio Camacho's side have also experienced better fortunes in Europe, as they lost their first two UEFA Champions League games but in their subsequent home matches have beaten Celtic FC and drawn with holders AC Milan.
However, Celtic's last-gasp winner against FC Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday ended Benfica's hopes of a top-two finish in Group D, but the coach is still pleased with how things are going. "The team is growing and had improved a lot since the beginning of the season," Camacho said. "It is true we're out of the Champions League but we still have a chance in the UEFA Cup. Besides that we have the Liga too, a very important competition for the club."
Their visitors, on the other hand, had their hopes of early progress thwarted by a 4-1 loss at Liverpool FC, not that Benfica defender Luisão thinks their visitors will be suffering a hangover. "These are two completely different competitions," the Brazilian said. "The Champions League is tough. They're still the leaders and it will be a difficult game."
Porto full-back José Bosingwa agrees. "That result will not affect us at all," he said. "They're two different competitions. On Wednesday we played in the Champions League and on Saturday we will play in the league. We will be strong as we always are in the Estádio da Luz." Argentinian midfielder Lucho González shares Bosingwa's hopes. "We have just a couple of days to rest but we are currently in first place and we want to extend our lead," he said. "Our goal is to travel to the Estádio da Luz and win the match."
©UEFA.com 1998-2014. All rights reserved.