Preview: Benfica can be crowned champion, but have to wait for ‘help’ from FC Porto

Benfica can win this Sunday the title of national football champion that has eluded them for three seasons, but they need the collaboration of FC Porto, in a 32nd and antepenultimate round that could leave almost everything decided.

The ‘incarnates’, without the punished Otamendi, will play on Saturday at the Portimonense stadium and, if they prevail in 13th place, they will increase their advantage over FC Porto from four to seven points, hoping that the national champion will lose the next day at the reception at Casa Pia to mathematically secure the title.

In that scenario – with only six points available until the end of the championship -, Benfica would be crowned by 22:15 on Sunday, approximately, Portuguese champion for the 38th time, the most relevant fact of a round that could also conclude the distribution of all ‘European places’ and even the two teams relegated directly to the second tier.

Given the tenacity with which the ‘dragons’ have been chasing the lead, Benfica should not count on the pursuers slipping up and should be satisfied with the possibility of ending the round with the same margin of safety with which they started it, one week away from visiting rival Sporting.

Benfica took a very important step last Saturday to break the ‘fast’ of three years – after six in which it was crowned champion five times -, by beating Sporting de Braga, third place, by nine points, by 1-0 away, making the Minho people’s dream of winning an unprecedented title merely academic.

FC Porto didn’t disarm and won on Monday in Arouca, also by 1-0, thanks to a goal scored by Spanish defender Iván Marcano, who will serve a suspension game against Casa Pia, quiet ninth, for having completed a series of yellow cards, as well as the influential midfielder Otávio, for the same reason.

The top two did not have an easy time in the first round matches with the next opponents: Benfica won by a thin 1-0 at home against Portimonense, thanks to a penalty goal scored by midfielder João Mário, while FC Porto were not in addition to the ‘null’ against Casa Pia.

Like the highest award in the I Liga, the competition’s top scorer trophy also seems to be reserved for a player from both clubs, with Benfica players Gonçalo Ramos and João Mário, who scored 17 goals each, in a slight advantage over the Iranian Mehdi Taremi, forward of FC Porto, who completed 16.

The current national champions also need to look ‘over their shoulder’ to Sporting de Braga, who have five points less, although they can also close the accounts of second place (which is worth their direct presence in the next edition of the Liga dos Champions), just needing to do better than the ‘arsenalists’.

After the title became a mirage and the second place little less than that, Sporting de Braga receives the red lantern Santa Clara with the possibility of securing the no less precious third place and, with it, the presence in the third next season’s ‘Champions’ qualifying round.

For that, the Braga fans are forced to beat the Azoreans on Sunday and hope that Sporting, fourth placed, with four points less, lost the day before in reception to Marítimo, third from last, a position destined for the maintenance play-off in the I Liga.

A triumph for the Madeirans in Alvalade could have disastrous consequences for Santa Clara and Paços de Ferreira, penultimate in the table, throwing both to the II Liga if, simultaneously, the Azoreans do not win in Braga and the Pacenses lose in the stronghold of Desportivo de Chaves, seventh .

The Flavienses are one of several teams that can still finish in the places of access to the Europa Conference League – fifth and sixth -, occupied by Arouca and Vitória de Guimarães, respectively, which can even guarantee that goal, but only through a combination of favorable results.

Source: Futebol 365 by

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