Sports Mole previews Monday’s Primeira Liga clash between Tondela and Benfica, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
The hosts will head into the game desperate to get one over As Aguias having failed to win any of the last seven meetings between the sides since 2018.
Tondela pulled clear of the relegation places last Sunday when they came from behind to secure a thrilling 2-1 victory over 10-man Portimonense at the Estadio Municipal de Portimao.
In a game where Filipe Relvas received his marching orders, Ivan Angulo netted four minutes after the half-hour mark to hand the hosts a first-half lead but Iker Undabarrena and Juan Manuel Boselli scored in the final 10 minutes to dramatically turn the tie on its head.
Pako Ayestaran‘s men are now unbeaten in all but one of their most recent five league outings, claiming two wins and two draws in that time, while suffering a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Vizela on January 22.
This decent run has seen CTD Auriverdes put some distance between themselves and the relegation places as they now occupy 13th place in the Primeira Liga standings with 20 points from 20 games.
While Tondela will look to keep the juggernaut rolling, next up is an opposing side who have won 11 of the last 13 games between the sides since 2015, only losing once in that time.
Benfica, on the other hand, failed to move on from their Taca da Liga final heartbreak as they were beaten 2-1 by Gil Vicente at the Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica last time out.
In an end-to-end affair, Samuel Lino and Giorgi Aburjania scored in either half to put the Gilistas two goals up, but after Goncalo Ramos pulled one back for the hosts in the 88th minute, it was too little, too late as the visitors held on for all three points.
This followed a 2-1 defeat at the hands of rivals Sporting Lisbon in the Taca da Liga final on January 29, when Goncalo Inacio cancelled out Everton 22nd-minute, before Pablo Sarabia netted in the 78th minute to turn the game around and hand the Leoes their second piece of silverware this season.
Benfica head into Monday’s game with two wins and one draw from their last four league games and will look to quickly bounce back to winning ways and keep within touching distance of Ruben Amorim‘s side in second place.
With 44 points from 20 games, Nelson Verissimo‘s men are currently third in the standings, six points behind Sporting Lisbon and 12 adrift of Porto, who comfortably sit at the summit of the table.
Tondela Primeira Liga form:
Tondela form (all competitions):
Benfica Primeira Liga form:
Benfica form (all competitions):
Ayestaran will be unable to call upon the services of Portuguese youngster Jota Goncalves, who has been out of action since September through a knee injury.
Javier Aviles, who recently joined the club on loan from Leganes, is also a major doubt after coming off with a 60th-minute injury in the game against Portimonense last time out.
Boselli, who took his place in the aforementioned game, proved to be an excellent addition, and the Uruguayan forward, who boasts five goals in nine appearances this season, should push for a starting role.
Meanwhile, Benfica will be boosted by the return of the duo of Nicolas Otamendi and Darwin Nunez, who were recently on international duties with Argentina and Uruguay respectively in the World Cup qualifiers.
Swiss forward Haris Seferovic, who has three goals to his name this season, is also on the club’s injury table, while experienced midfielder Joao Mario will miss his second consecutive game after recently testing positive for COVID-19.
In the absence of the 29-year-old, Paulo Bernardo put on a fine performance at the heart of the park against Gil Vicente last time out and the youngster should keep his spot in the XI.
Tondela possible starting lineup:
Trigueira; Almeida, Quaresma, Sagnan, Borges; Undabarrena, Augusto; Boselli, Barbosa, Agra; Anjos
Benfica possible starting lineup:
Vlachodimos; Almeida, Otamendi, Vertonghen, Grimaldo; Gilberto, Weigl, Bernardo, Silva; Everton, Nunez
We say: Tondela 0-2 Benfica
While Tondela will be looking to build on their win over Portimonense, next up is an opposing side who have been imperious in the history of this fixture. Benfica have suffered a drop-off in form in recent weeks but we are tipping them to extend their dominance against the hosts and come out victorious once again.