Benfica have caught Braga at the top after yesterday’s easy win over Academica, while Porto have moved to within 3 points to add extra spice to the title race. The 12th round of fixtures comes to a close today with matches between Leiria and Nacional and Setubal against Sporting.
U.Leiria vs Nacional.
Leiria host Nacional at the Estádio Dr. Magalhães Pessoa hoping to cement their mid-table position and secure survival in the league as early as possible, which was their ambition at the beginning of the season. In the last round they suffered a 0-2 loss away to Braga after putting in a poor display. In fact, their opponents squandered a host of opportunities and the final scores flatters them. Assistant Zoao Bastos will be in the dugout tonight given the suspension being served by Vidigal. Midfielder Pateiro is doubtful.
The islanders find themselves in the upper echelons of the league and could be considered as the pleasant surprise packages of the season to date. But they slipped up in their last league outing when they drew 1-1 with Nacional on home soil. However, the got their equalizer in the dying minutes and should be pleased walking away with a point. Their European adventure came to an end during the week as they lost 1-4 to Werder Bremen in Germany. The most concerning news for the club is that coach Machado is in hospital and doctors stating he will be in there for quite some time. Winger Wellington is ruled out.
Selection: Nacional will have a tough task in getting a point from the reliable hosts on their home ground, and it is made all the more difficult with Machado in hospital battling with illness. The odds available on the hosts are decent. Home win.
Setubal vs Sporting CP.
Bottom placed Setubal host Sporting at the Estadio do Bonfim and they will have a tough time trying to get any points. They were poorer than expected away to Academica and deservedly lost 0-3 to find themselves rooted to the bottom of the table. Coach Fernandes blamed his team for having a losing mentality. Although he is a supporter of Sporting outside of his professional duties, he stated the players would give 200% in today’s game to get a positive result. Midfielder Kazmierczak and attacking midfielder Vasco Varao are ruled out. The other absentees do not impact on the line-up.
In his debut game on the bench against bitter rivals Benfica, Carvalhal saw his side fight out a 0-0 stalemate and fall further behind in the race for the title. In midweek Europa League action they drew 1-1 against Heerenveen but qualified for the next phase of that competition. Star player Liedson has made some rumblings because he is struggling to adapt to the new formation spearheading the attack. Midfielder Vukcevic, forward Yannick and winger Marques are unavailable.
Selection: This is an opportunity for Sporting to beat the worst side in the competition and for Carvalhal to notch up his first victory. Away win.