Unbelievable! Before the April’s fools title-decider bout between Benfica and Porto both teams had matches they should be winning with more or less ease but the nerves seemed to be the tone for this contenders. The first in action was the three-time champions Benfica, looking for an historical fourth, in a difficult trip to Pacos de Ferreira, a team known to create troubles to the big teams in their small, very tight pitch. This season they haven’t been as brilliant as in recent years but Rui Vitoria’s team wasn’t at their best, created very few chances – an Eliseu strike that hit the post and a last-gasp Jonas header were the only big possibilities for the Encarnados – and ended up leaving two points behind in the north of Portugal and, more importantly, giving FC Porto the chance of overtaking them just before their duel at Estadio da Luz.
The Dragoes hosted Vit.Setubal and this is a match that should’ve been a no-brainer. In front of their fans, against a mid-table team, Nuno Espirito Santo’s team had everything to make of this match a big celebration to take them back to the lead in Liga Nos, a place Porto knows well but has been away from in recent years. They had a fantastic first half in creating chances but you could feel the nerves growing in a fast scale until the fabulous volley from Jesus Corona gave them the lead and it seemed that they were going to build on that and make the most of Benfica’s slip but the second half was very different. Setubal was able to get a goal in one of the few times they were able to get out of their own area and hold Porto’s charge with Bruno Varela (Setubal’s keeper) always present when needed.
Benfica and Porto keep their distances then and make the match at Estadio da Luz even more exciting and nerve-wrecking for both team’s fans and might make the most die-hard Sporting CP fans hopeful that second place might be possible. It’s a stretch, as the distance is still of 10 and 9 points respectively but with their rivals pressured with the title and Jorge Jesus assuming the title is a lost cause Sporting is playing without any real pressure and that might be their big advantage. This weekend Bas Dost scored twice again, in the 2-0 win over troubled Nacional da Madeira, a team that seems destined for relegation after 15 years straight in the Portuguese top flight.
Now the two top teams will dwell on their slip ups during the break for national teams and will be back for an epic battle that will help see who is, in fact, the more deserving team to take the Liga Nos title. 1st of April at 20:30, Lisbon will be roaring and anyone that can should watch the match, it will be worth it.