Leaders Porto will host wounded rivals Benfica, who are still recovering from a tumultuous week after a player revolt led to the dismissal of manager Jorge Jesus, in their final Portuguese league match of the year on Thursday.
It will be a second meeting within seven days for the clubs after 10-man Porto thrashed Benfica 3-0 to reach the Portuguese Cup quarterfinals.
Third-placed Benfica, who trail Porto and Sporting by four points, will not only be looking to close the gap with the pace setters in the league but will also be eager to bury memories of the past week.
The Lisbon club endured a tumultuous few days during which manager Jesus sparked a revolt among the players after he expelled captain Pizzi from practice.
The 67-year-old Portuguese, who had earlier told Brazil’s Globo that he could be heading back to Flamengo for a second spell at the club, was then handed his own marching orders by Benfica president Rui Costa. Flamengo, however, hired another Portuguese, former Poland coach Paulo Sousa as their new coach.
Caretaker manager Nelson Verissimo will take charge of Benfica until the end of the season, the club announced. He will also have the difficult task of snapping Porto’s seven-match unbeaten streak against Benfica in all competitions. Porto are also on a four-match winning streak without conceding a goal.
Benfica will be missing at least six players due to Covid-19 cases and suspensions, including Darwin Nunez, Nicolas Otamendi and Alejandro Grimaldo.
Porto manager Sergio Conceicao will also be without starters Evanilson and Luis Diaz, who tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday. Pepe and Mehdi Taremi’s availability is still in doubt.