Santa Clara vs Benfica build-up, previous line-ups & injury news:
Santa Clara sit eighth in the league table, but their form has not been good in recent months. The team from the Azores have lost six of their last eight league matches, failing to score in the last four of those defeats.
Benfica, meanwhile, are on a four-game winning streak, having bounced back from consecutive losses against Boavista and Braga in November.
- Santa Clara (vs Moreirense): Marco; Vilanueva, Cardoso, Afonso; Sagna, Carvalho, Rashid, Costinha, Ukra; Carlos, Moghanlou.
- Benfica (vs Portimonense): Vlachodimos; Gilberto, Otamendi, Vertonghen, Grimaldo; Silva, Weigl, Taarabt, Everton; Nunez, Walschmidt.
Santa Clara are without striker Thiago Santana, who is leaving to join Japanese side Shimizu S-Pulse in the January transfer window. Andre Mesquita is an injury doubt.
Joao Ferreira, Haris Seferovic, Pizzi, Jardel, Goncalo Ramos, Gabriel, Andre Almeida and Jean-Clair Todibo are all currently unavailable to Benfica manager Jorge Jesus.
Players to watch:
Santa Clara: The home team is really going to struggle in front of goal without Santana, who has scored seven of their 10 league goals this season. Iranian striker Shahriar Moghanlou stepped into Santana’s shoes for their most recent game against Moreirense but did not manage to find the net in a 1-0 defeat. The 26-year-old is yet to score since joining Santa Clara in September but could make a name for himself against giants Benfica this weekend.
Benfica: It hasn’t happened for him yet at Benfica, but the possibility of an in-form Adel Taarabt remains an enticing one for fans of the Lisbon club. The former Queens Park Rangers midfielder is a mercurial talent worth pursuing, having shown flashes of genius at times across his career. He is yet to score or assist in seven league appearances this season, but did assist in the 2-2 Europa League draw against Standard Liege in early December. Maybe he is about to find form after a run of games in Jesus’s starting XI.
Primeira Liga 2020/21 recent form:
- Santa Clara: LLWLL
- Benfica: LWWWW