Benfica had a setback in their previous match against their fierce rivals Sporting, resulting in dropped points. This has created an opportunity for reigning champions Porto to potentially seize the title from Benfica on the season’s final day.
Sporting took a two-goal advantage in the first half, but the liga title contenders showed great determination in the second half, culminating in João Neves scoring the equalizer during injury time.
Meanwhile, Despite experiencing a slight improvement since the beginning of May, Santa Clara faces a formidable challenge this Saturday as they visit Benfica, knowing that their five-year tenure in the top tier of Portuguese football will come to an end when the final whistle blows.
The team from the Azores has managed to win two of their last three matches, with their most recent victory being a 1-0 result against Portimonense, thanks to a goal by Andrezinho. However, their fate of relegation was sealed almost two weeks ago with a 5-3 defeat against Braga.
Danildo Accioly assumed the managerial role for struggling Santa Clara in February, as the club desperately sought to change the course of their season. However, the 42-year-old’s inability to secure a victory until this month left them with little chance of avoiding demotion.
Considering Santa Clara’s poor away record of only one league victory in 16 attempts, accompanied by a league-low eight goals scored, the visiting supporters on Saturday will likely have modest expectations for their team against Benfica.
Winger Gabriel Silva, who has netted five goals, has been a standout performer for the bottom-placed team this season. However, it is expected that this weekend’s match will mark his final appearance for the club, as he will be returning to his parent club, Palmeiras, at the end of the season.
Benfica, aiming to secure the Primeira Liga title, will have to do so without the assistance of Julian Draxler, the Paris Saint-Germain loanee who suffered an ankle injury in February, ending his season.
While Joao Mario was substituted at halftime in the match against Sporting Lisbon, with Alexander Bah taking his place, it is likely that the Portuguese midfielder will retain his spot in the starting lineup as Benfica seeks to assert dominance over their visitors.
Santa Clara is expected to field a similar lineup to the one that emerged victorious against Portimonense last weekend, meaning Italo is likely to partner Ygor Nogueira in the visitors’ defensive line.
Striker Matheus, who provided the assist for Andrezinho’s winning goal in their previous match, will also be departing the Azorean team after this game, as he returns to his parent club in Brazil.
Possible starting lineup for Benfica: Vlachodimos; Aursnes, A Silva, Otamendi, Grimaldo; Neves, Chiquinho, Mario, R Silva, Neres; Ramos
Possible starting lineup for Santa Clara: Batista; Sagna, Ygor, Italo, Nunes; Jordao, Adriano, Andrezinho, Aleida, Silva; Matheus
Benfica can approach Saturday’s match against a depleted Santa Clara team with optimism, but the significant consequences involved may lead to a tense evening for the home side if they fail to score early on.
Santa Clara, who are set to face the challenges of the second tier in the upcoming season, will likely view their visit to a renowned Portuguese powerhouse as an opportunity to gain experience. However, it is difficult to envision them achieving any positive outcome in this particular encounter.
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