The biggest derby of the weekend
Amigos, this weekend will bring you one of the biggest matches in the footballing world.
And I'm not talking about Liverpool vs Everton, Arsenal vs Chelsea, Aberdeen vs Rangers or even Barcelona vs Real Madrid.
I'm talking about the mouth-watering clash between Sporting CP and SL Benfica.
Forget about the spotlight-hogging El ClÃÂ¡sico between BarÃÂ§a and Real that will be shown on cinemas around Spain, because the Lisbon derby has all the ingredients that appeal to the real fan.
And it goes with beer, not popcorn.
The big one
Sporting vs Benfica
Looking at the table, pretty much everyone would say the Eagles are red-hot favourites.
They are joint leaders with 25 points while a disappointing Sporting have managed just 14 points.
Should Benfica win, theyÃ¢ÂÂll have twice the points of their rivals, an incredibly unusual situation that would practically dent any title hopes the Lions still harbour.
The thing is that unlike other matches, derbies between fierce rivals have unique characteristics.
In these matches, morale, form and the overall quality of the squad are not as decisive as they usually are since the opportunity to defeat a familiar foe offers an instant psychological boost.
Often, the team in the worst position wins the derby.
Carlos Carvalhal faces his first league game as Sporting manager without any major concerns regarding team selection.
The absence of injured Russian midfielder Marat Izmailov is the biggest blow, but Sporting have plenty of good options in that department.
After crashing out of the Portuguese Cup, Benfica will be looking to get back on track and will welcome back star striker ÃÂscar Cardozo after a two-match suspension.
Javier Saviola is a major doubt and that may give an opportunity to Brazilian forward WÃÂ©ldon.
Keirrison could also play a role, but after failing to make any sort of impact against GuimararÃÂ£es, it is hard to believe coach Jesus will hand him another chance.
It's puzzling that a Ã¢ÂÂ¬14 million signing tipped to have a bright future can flop as hard as heÃ¢ÂÂs doing, but at the moment heÃ¢ÂÂs no better than Pedro Mantorras.
It will be decided in midfield.
Benfica lack balance in the middle of the park and Sporting are stronger: with Veloso, Moutinho and MatÃÂas FernandÃÂ©z, Sporting have a mix of creativity, passing range and ball control.
With the 'new coach' wildcard, The Portugeezer gives the upper hand to the Lions.
They know that a win here will provide them a much-need fillip and theyÃ¢ÂÂll sweat blood to impress their new coach and defeat the Eagles.
LiÃÂ©dson will score and frustrate Benfica once again.
Prediction: Sporting 2-1 Benfica
The remaining games
Olhanense vs GuimarÃÂ£es
GuimarÃÂ£es have been on the rise lately with wins against Braga and Benfica.
Manager Paulo SÃÂ©rgio seems to have injected confidence to the side and theyÃ¢ÂÂll be hoping to pile more misery on their Algarvian opponents, who havenÃ¢ÂÂt won a game since 14th of September.
Prediction: Away win
Nacional vs Naval
Both teams barely managed to survive in the Portuguese Cup. The Islanders currently sit in fourth place and are usually strong at home, which should be enough to see of their opponents.
Prediction: Home win
AcadÃÂ©mica vs SetÃÂºbal
In a match between two relegation contenders, the home factor may just be the key in the final result.
Despite having lost in the Portuguese Cup, AcadÃÂ©mica had played well in the previous matches and will hope to leapfrog SetÃÂºbal in the table.
Prediction: Home win
PaÃÂ§os de Ferreira vs LeixÃÂµes
PaÃÂ§os de Ferreira are the only team in the league not to have won at home... but LeixÃÂµes have failed to claim a single point away.
Having improved in the last few matches, PaÃÂ§os will register their first win in front of their suffering supporters.
Prediction: Home win (at last!)
Belenenses vs MarÃÂtimo
Seven out of MarÃÂtimoÃ¢ÂÂs 15 points came against the Big Three.
The Islanders seem to be up to tough tasks, though itoÃ¢ÂÂs a whole different story when they play against smaller opposition.
Belenenses are badly in need of a result, but will find it hard to get the three points.
Prediction: A lively draw
FC Porto vs Rio Ave
Porto will be entertaining Rio Ave knowing beforehand that they benefit from the outcome of the match between Benfica and Sporting.
Yes, they lost against Chelsea on Wednesday in a very even match, but will return to winning ways against one of the surprise packages of the season.
Rio Ave have been playing above expectations... but theyÃ¢ÂÂre still no match for the Dragons.
Prediction: Comfortable win for Porto.
Braga vs UniÃÂ£o de Leiria
Braga play against Leiria on Monday and looking at how they performed in the cup last weekend, thereÃ¢ÂÂs hardly a single person that would bet against them.
The Arsenalistas have a perfect record at home and will continue to be the competition pace-setters.
Prediction: Walk in the park for Braga
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