The Lisbon derby. One of the most fiercely contested derbies on the planet.
This is much more than a football match. This is a hatred; an event which begins long before the referee blows his whistle.
Since 1907, Benfica and Sporting CP have shared a mutual loathing of each other. The bitterness originated from Sporting allegedly ‘stealing’ eight Benfica players prior to a match between the two teams. The lure of better playing facilities and hot showers was enough to clinch the deal and spark a lifetime of hatred.
Anyone who thinks Newcastle vs Sunderland looks tasty because a few high challenges fly about and the fans chant at each other before the game ain't seen nothing yet. This derby tragically resulted in the death of a Sporting fan in 1996 after rival fans had clashed; this isn’t a derby game to be taken lightly.
Here are five of the most memorable clashes between the pair in recent times.
2019 - Benfica 5-0 Sporting CP
It may be the Portuguese equivalent of the Charity Shield, but on the six occasions these two sides have faced each other in the annual curtain-raiser it’s been far from the drab affair we’ve become accustomed to in England.
The season prior saw Benfica narrowly edge out Porto in the title race, with Sporting a calamitous 13 points behind. This was a chance to lay down a marker and let Benfica know that this was Sporting’s year - but they failed miserably.
Having taken the lead shortly before the break, Benfica ran away with the contest as the floodgates opened and Sporting fell apart. The clash set the tone for the pair’s seasons in a way, with Benfica challenging for the league prior to its postponement, and Sporting back in fourth having lost star man Bruno Fernandes to Manchester United in January.
2008 - Sporting CP 5-3 Benfica
The semi-final of the Portuguese Cup is a big occasion for any Portuguese team, but when it’s a Lisbon derby the atmosphere is cranked up a notch.
Having taken a 2-0 lead early on, Benfica crumbled and found themselves 3-2 down with ten minutes remaining. Christian Rodriquez restored parity in the 82nd minute to send Benfica fans into ecstasy, only for them to throw it away two minutes later as Yannick Djaló fired home to give Sporting the lead.
Simon Vukčević’s 93rd minute goal rubbed salt in Benfica wounds and ensured Sporting headed to the final. They would beat Porto 2-0 after extra time to lift the trophy.
2015 - Benfica 0-3 Sporting CP
Sporting headed to Estádio da Luz in October 2015 having only beaten their arch-rivals once in the past 12 encounters.
The Eagles were enjoying a period of dominance in Primeira Liga and had recently won back-to-back titles. An uphill task awaited Sporting, but Jorge Jesus’ men ran riot.
The game was over as a contest after just 36 minutes, after Teo Gutiérrez, Islam Slimani and Bryan Ruiz ensured it would be Sporting who took home all three points. Beating your rivals after years of pain is pretty special, but to smash them 3-0 on their own patch is something else.
2015 - Sporting CP 1-1 Benfica
Often with big derby matches the hype and the build-up can be better than the actual match. We spend weeks thinking about getting one over on our nearest rivals, only for the pressure to get to the players and it to turn into a bit of a damp squib. That’s exactly what happened here.
In the 87th minute the game was heading for a dreary 0-0 draw, then all of a sudden the blue touch paper was lit.
Jefferson’s 87th minute strike seemed to have handed all three points to the home side, only for Jardel to break Sporting hearts in the 94th minute, earning his side a point. The away side would go on to lose just one game in their remaining 16 games of the season, a run which saw them crowned champions.
2013 - Benfica 4-3 Sporting CP (AET)
As cup games go, this Portuguese Cup match had the lot. Hat-tricks, last minute goals, goalkeeping calamities and extra-time winners.
Óscar Cardozo’s first half hat-trick seemed to have put the game to bed, but Sporting fought back in the second half and Slimani’s bullet header in the 92nd minute ensured the game would carry on into extra-time.
Despite their spirited fightback, Sporting pressed the self-destruct button in the 97th minute as they failed to deal with a long throw into the box, and current Wolves number one Rui Patricio somehow managed to let the ball slip between his legs after it had been harmlessly headed towards goal.