MX23RW : Thursday, June 24 20:42:58| >> :600:280410:280410:
Apr 26, 2021 at 7pm UK at Estádio da Luz
Santa ClaraSanta Clara
Carlos (25' og.), Chiquinho (73')
Weigl (89'), Otamendi (90+2')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Carvalho (62')

Preview: Benfica vs. Santa Clara - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Monday's Primeira Liga clash between Benfica and Santa Clara, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Benfica will be looking to tighten their grip on third place in the Primeira Liga when they host Santa Clara on Monday evening.

The Eagles have won seven of their last eight league games, while their opponents have won only one of their last five.

Match preview

Benfica coach Jorge Jesus in the Europa League on February 18, 2021© Reuters

After suffering a shock 2-1 home loss to Gil Vicente last week, bringing an end to their 10-game unbeaten run, it was important Benfica responded against Portimonense on Thursday.

Jorge Jesus's side were comfortable 5-1 winners at Estadio Municipal de Portimao, despite trailing to a Beto goal shortly before half time.

That victory showed the defeat to Gil Vicente was merely a blimp for third-placed Benfica, though it was a costly one as it all but ended their slim title hopes.

The Eagles are 10 points behind leaders Sporting Lisbon and six adrift of Porto, but their immediate priority is holding off fourth-placed Sporting Braga, who are two points behind.

Benfica have won 12 of their last 16 home matches, although they are still yet to host Sporting and Porto at Estadio da Luz. Win those two games, of course, and Jesus's side may yet be in the title mix.

Daniel Ramos, now in charge of Santa Clara, pictured as Boavista boss in June 2020© Reuters

Santa Clara's recent form does not point towards an upset being on the cards here, the Azoreans having lost four away games in a row.

Daniel Ramos's charges followed up the most recent of those losses - a 1-0 reverse at Vitoria Guimaraes - with a goalless home draw against Moreirense on Wednesday.

That leaves the visitors seventh in the Primeira Liga standings, two points off a qualifying spot for the newly-formed Europa Conference League.

Benfica do not have the best of recent records against Santa Clara, meanwhile, having lost 4-3 in this corresponding fixture last year, while also being held 1-1 in the most recent encounter three months ago.

Benfica Primeira Liga form:
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W

Santa Clara Primeira Liga form:
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • D

Team News

Benfica's Haris Seferovic celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates in January 2021© Reuters

Gabriel Pires received an early booking in the win against Portimonense and will serve a one-match ban for this visit of Santa Clara.

That will likely mean Julian Weigl filling in alongside Adel Taarabt in central midfield, while Darwin Nunez is another pushing for inclusion.

Joao Ferreira, Andre Almeida and Andreas Samaris are the home side's only known injury absentees.

As for Santa Clara, they are without the injured Julio Romao and the suspended Fabio Cardoso, who misses out through an accumulation of yellow cards.

Joao Afonso is expected to get the nod in central defence, where he will partner Mikel Villanueva.

In terms of other possible changes Ramos could make, Rui Costa may be considered for a starting role after Crysan fired a blank in the goalless draw with Moreirense.

Benfica possible starting lineup:
Leite; Verissimo, Otamendi, Vertonghen; Goncalves, Pizzi, Weigl, Grimaldo; Nunez, Seferovic, Rafa

Santa Clara possible starting lineup:
Pereira; Ramos, Villanueva, Afonso, Mansur; Lincoln, Carvalho, Nene; Junior, Costa, Allano

SM words green background

We say: Benfica 2-1 Santa Clara

Santa Clara are unbeaten in their last two meetings with Benfica, but they enter this game with some patchy form, whereas Benfica have taken 21 points from the last 24 available.

The visitors have been beaten 2-1 away at top-two sides Sporting and Porto over the past six weeks, and we can see that scoreline being repeated at the Estadio da Luz.

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Benfica coach Jorge Jesus in the Europa League on February 18, 2021
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Saturday's Primeira Liga predictions including Benfica vs. Gil Vicente
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