As Liga Portugal action enters matchday 16, it is time for the 2022/23 season’s first Lisbon derby between SL Benfica and Sporting CP. The Eagles will host their perpetual rivals from across the neighbourhood at the Estadio da Luz on Sunday evening. The hosts go into this heavyweight clash with a six-point lead at the top of the table and are pushing for their first league title after a four-year void. Meanwhile, Sporting are currently fourth in the Liga Portugal rankings and trails their fierce city rivals by a broad gap of 12 points. The Lions will be keen to return home with all three points from the derby as well as bragging rights. Below we look at some stats that could help predict the outcome of this match.

How have the teams performed so far?

Liga Portugal Preview: Benfica vs Sporting

Benfica are having an extraordinary season under manager Roger Schmidt. The Eagles were unbeaten (12W, 1D) after the first thirteen matches until a 3-0 away defeat at Braga. They have scored the most goals (38) and conceded the fewest (10). They average 2.51 xG and 0.53 xGA per match. The above viz shows the percentile rank of Benfica’s stats compared to other teams in the league. They have been the best team in the league, as we can observe the team dominating in the attacking, possession, and defence departments with an exceptional percentile all around the board.

Liga Portugal Preview: Benfica vs Sporting

Sporting, on the other hand, have won nine, drawn one, and lost five matches this season. They have struggled to reach the consistency levels shown in recent seasons. Ruben Amorim’s team is experiencing a dip in form and lost 1-0 to relegation fodder Maritimo last week, making it two defeats and three wins in their last five matches. They have scored 29 goals with an xG rate of 1.81 per match. Their defence has conceded 16 goals, averaging an xGA rate of 0.98. The above viz illustrates that Sporting are competent in attack and possession but have faced shortcomings in their defence.

Benfica vs Sporting: Efficiency of attacking moves

Liga Portugal Preview: Benfica vs Sporting Liga Portugal Preview: Benfica vs Sporting

The two visuals above compare the two teams on the basis of positional play and counter-attacks. Both teams are neck-and-neck in terms of the efficiency of their attacking moves. While the visitors hold the advantage for positional attacks, the home team has the upper hand for counterattacks. Benfica creates 40.53 positional attacks on average, and the number increases to 43.63 in home fixtures. Meanwhile, Sporting creates 34.27 positional attacks per match while averaging 31.88 such attacks in away matches.

Alternatively, the Eagles launch 2.2 counterattacks per match and clock 2.88 counterattacks at home. Meanwhile, the Lions launch 1.67 counterattacks on average, with the number decreasing to 0.75 per match while on the road. We can expect the hosts to keep more possession and create more chances while the visitors adopt a more efficient approach to their sporadic attacking moves in this derby.

The difference in pressing and similarity in recoveries

Liga Portugal Preview: Benfica vs Sporting

Liga Portugal Preview: Benfica vs Sporting

The two visuals above compare both teams on the basis of pressing efficiency and recoveries. As we can see from the first visual, Benfica are ranked first on the list with 59% pressing efficiency and are ranked in the top 94.7 percentile for a high pressing success rate. Sporting are lower on the list in fifth, with 49% efficiency in pressing.

Benfica’s high-pressing style allows them to recover the ball in the attacking half. However, despite having a lesser rate of pressing efficiency, Sporting are able to recover the ball with a similar frequency in the attacking half as their opponents. The team makes an average of 80.93 recoveries per match, compared to Benfica’s average of 82.47 recoveries.

Key players

Liga Portugal Preview: Benfica vs Sporting

Goncalo Ramos is having an excellent season with Benfica. He is the league’s leading goal scorer this season with nine goals in 13 appearances and also has one assist. He averages 3.56 shots per match with an accuracy rate of 47.5%. Going into the match, the 21-year-old forward will be keen to add to his goal tally further.

Liga Portugal Preview: Benfica vs Sporting

Pedro Goncalves is one of Sporting’s best performers this season, with seven goals and three assists to his name from 14 matches played. He is joint third in the league’s goal-scoring charts and takes 2.77 shots per match with 39% accuracy. The 24-year-old attacker will be one of Sporting’s key players to pose a threat to Benfica’s backline in the match.

Team news

Benfica are expected to be without Rafa Silva because of a sprained ankle, along with Gilberto and Petar Musa due to sickness. Apart from that, the home side’s squad seems fit and ready for the match.

Meanwhile, Manuel Ugarte is suspended from playing in this fixture for Sporting after accumulating five bookings. The visitors will also miss the services of Daniel Bracanga, Luis Neto, and Chico Lamba due to various injuries. The rest of the Sporting players will be raring to go for this derby clash.

The stats indicate a highly competitive and thrilling fixture is on the cards. At home, Benfica will pose an extremely tough challenge to its arch-rivals and aim to maintain its handsome lead at the top of the table. Sporting, on the other hand, will be motivated to give their best performance as they look to build some prolonged momentum of their own and warrant a spot in the top three.

Visuals via TFA data viz engine