The 2016/17 season is set for an exciting final act on Sunday afternoon as Benfica and Vitória de Guimarães go head-to-head in the Portuguese Cup final at the Jamor national stadium. 

It’s a repeat of the 2013 final, when the northerners stunned the Eagles by winning 2-1 under the astute managerial guidance of none other than the current Benfica coach, Rui Vitória. Benfica go into the game strong favourites having beaten Vitória three times this season, including the 5-0 thrashing just two weeks ago in the title-clinching match at the Estádio da Luz.

But if Benfica show any complacency as they attempt to complete the double, they will surely be punished. Under Pedro Martins, Vitória have played some wonderful football this season, finished fourth in the table and equalled their best ever points total.

 

As throughout this season, PortuGOAL has teamed up with OZ at www.oz.com where Portuguese football fans all around the world can watch full HD live streaming of the keenly awaited showpiece season finale.

 

Both coaches rotated their squad heavily in the final Primeira Liga weekend so the teams will come into Sunday’s the game well rested, and the expected drop in the hot temperatures of recent days in the Lisbon capital should only help what has all the makings of a high-quality match.

Key battle

In the Liga match two weeks ago Vitória were overpowered in midfield with Benfica causing all sorts of problems by their speedy, direct attacking through the middle. Rock solid defensive midfielder Ljubomir Fejsa and the dynamic and incisive Pizzi have been outstanding in the centre of the pitch all season for the Portuguese champions. Vitória’s double defensive pivot of Zungu and Rafael Miranda must disrupt their opposite numbers in the midfield battle if their team is to prosper.


Listen to audio commentary of the Portuguese Cup final between Benfica-Vitória Guimarães


Full-backs in full flow

The match will see a direct confrontation between the two best sets of full-backs in Portugal this season. Benfica’s Nelson Semedo and Alex Grimaldo have been superb both defending and attacking, with one of both players likely to earn the Lisbon club a huge windfall through a transfer this summer. Although less trumpeted, Vitória’s offensive right-back Bruno Gaspar (a former Benfica apprentice) and Ivorian left-back Ghislain Konan have also had impressive seasons and will be gunning to top it off with a piece of silverware. 

Potent attacking threats

Benfica’s centre-forwards Jonas and Mitroglou have scored a remarkable 106 goals between them in the last two seasons. It goes without saying that Vitória’s defence will have to be almost perfect to prevent the lethal strike duo from adding to that total.

The key for Vitória will be to make sure they do not focus solely on defending – the Northern side were virtually inexistent as an attacking force when the two teams met a fortnight ago – but ask questions of Benfica at the other end of the pitch, thus keeping the ball far from Douglas’s net. And it is not as Vitória are short of firepower themselves. Marega and Hernâni on the flanks have been in excellent form, as has the creative Hurtado, while Uruguayan forward David Teixeira came into his own in the final weeks of the season.

All in all, this is one not to be missed! Kick-off at 5.15 pm on Sunday 28 May.

Expected line-ups:

Benfica – Ederson, Semedo, Luisão, Lindelöf, Grimaldo, Salvio, Fejsa, Pizzi, Cervi, Jonas, Mitrolgou

Vitória Guimarães – Douglas, Gaspar, Henriques, Josué, Konan, Zungu, Miranda, Marega, Hurtado, Hernâni, Teixeira

By Tom Kundert

 

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