Lisbon lights up for decisive derby

The Portuguese title race could be decided as SL Benfica and Sporting Clube de Portugal meet at the Luz stadium.

By Hugo Pietra

With two rounds remaining in the Portuguese SuperLiga season, the destination of the title could be decided this weekend as the top two, SL Benfica and Sporting Clube de Portugal, meet at the Estádio da Luz on Saturday night.

Level on points
The Lisbon rivals sit together on 61 points at the head of the standings, although Sporting are first having won the first encounter between the sides 2-1 at the Estádio José Alvalade on 8 January. That will count for little in front of a full Luz stadium where 65,000 spectators will be urging Benfica to victory.

Full fitness
Benfica coach Giovanni Trapattoni has a full squad available after Manuel Fernandes and Nuno Gomes recovered from injury. The Italian has taken his players to the quiet of Óbidos, a spa resort around 90km north of Lisbon where Switzerland prepared for the finals of UEFA EURO 2004™.

Liedson loss
Sporting, meanwhile, are without leading scorer Liedson after the prolific Brazilian picked up a yellow card in the last minute of Monday night's 1-0 win against Vitória SC and centre-back Joseph Enakarhire remains a doubt. Midfielder Fabio Rochemback and striker Mauricio Pinilla are back after injury, however.

Pressure on Porto
The Lisbon derby kicks off at 20.45CET, with champions FC Porto playing away at Rio Ave FC at the same time. The Dragons are three points behind the front two and should they fail to win, Sporting will be crowned champions with a victory at the Luz. Benfica, meanwhile, must win 1-0 or by a two-goal margin to take the title if Porto drop points.