The rivalry between the two biggest clubs of Lisbon is a special one. Not only does it exist for over a century, it is also contradictory. Sporting Club de Portugal is originally an elite club, but now more the peoples club. On the other hand, Benfica is the club coming form the suburbs of Lisbon, with mostly players from the neighbourhood. Some of them even came out of an orphanage. Apparently winning prices means becoming arrogant. In particular during the Eusébio era from 1960, Benfica won title after title. Despite the fact FC Porto is the most successful club since 1990, Benfica is still seen as the arrogant club. Interesting starting point for Derby da Capital!
Enough at stake
In the week before the derby, Benfica lost their home game against Tondela. Their title aspirations were vanished as FC Porto won. In theory Benfica could still win the title, but with two matches to go and a gap of five points O Glorioso had no hope left. Despite this result, there was still enough to play for. Sporting won also and had the same amount of points as their arch-rivals. Second place means going to the qualifying round of the Champions League, while third place means playing Europe League football.
In Portugal the mutual result is more important than the number of goals scored. Winning the derby meant being certain of second place. Sporting would be in favour when playing 0-0, as the first derby away ended 1-1. So Sporting would have the advantage. Any other draw would be in favour of Benfica, as they have the better goal difference.
Portuguese Derby Passion
Portuguese football is not really known for their passion. Usually there is a tame atmosphere on half empty stands. The Sporting supporters are an exception. Their love and passion is all over the place. You could sense the tension around the stadium far before the match. After going into the stadium, the tension only increased. During the warming up, the stadium was almost completely full and the team received loud support. I immediately felt at home!
In the red corner across the stadium there was occasionally some noise. They were simply overpowered by the wall of noise coming from Os Leões with the ultras in the lead. The fanatics of Sporting are divided into four groups: Torcida Verde, Directivo Ultras XXI, Juventude Leonina and Brigada Ultras. They are situated behind the goal left to right.
You can’t really talk of a unity. Vocally they complete each other, but sometimes they sing their own songs. Each group does also its own tifo before the match. To be honest, it gives an unique atmosphere and view. Sometimes eyes and ears fall short.
Juventude Leonina is the oldest and biggest group. They exist since 1976 and are situated right behind the goal. They had the best tifo, finishing it with a massive green pyro show throwing a lot of flares onto the pitch. It delayed the start of the derby.
The away section had not much action. Some flags and a lost flare was the only thing they came up with for a long time. They decided to safe it until the end of the match, when the upper tier gave a proper pyro show.
The match itself was very bad. Mistakes over and over again, with Benfica having the better chances. They hit the woodwork twice. It was mainly the tension and atmosphere on the stands which gave me a great time. The few chances of Sporting caused so much clamour and disbelieve. The Puta Madres were flying back and forth. Vigorously discussing every what was happening on the pitch. Despite my Portuguese language skills are very bad, I could perfectly understand their frustration and disappointment.
Bas Dost came up with a Messi-like action leaving two defenders helpless. Instead of getting Sporting the lead, he gave a very bad ball to the left meant for a fellow player, but could be defended easily. This moment told the whole story of the match. Once in a while a touch of brilliance, but mainly dramatically poor.
It brought people to the edge of their seats. Some could not even watch the match anymore, others were biting nails like crazy. Screaming women overpowered many of the male supporters. An atmosphere between hope and fear.
A small party
The match ended the same as how it started. This meant that Sporting could celebrate a small party as qualifying for the Champions League is still in their own hands with still one round to play. They need to go to Madeira, the beautiful island responsible of the rise of Portuguese football.
Sporting Club de Portugal