Sporting’s Luis Neto, right, and Pedro Porro celebrate after teammate Matheus Nunes scored the opening goal during the Portuguese League soccer match between Sporting CP and Benfica at the Alvalade stadium in Lisbon, Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. Nunes scored once in Sporting’s 1-0 victory. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
- The Portuguese title is essentially on the line on Saturday, as first-place Sporting visits second-place Porto (3:30 pm ET) nursing a 10-point lead
- The Leoes could go 13 points clear of the competition with a win at the Estadio do Dragao, and take a massive step towards their first Primeira Liga title since 2002
- Get a breakdown of the two clubs, Saturday’s matchup odds and a few value picks below
Pundits and fans alike expected Sporting (17-3-0) and its young squad to fall back to earth at some point during the first half, but Ruben Amorim’s side has forged ahead — and now has a very real chance to all but secure the title on Saturday in this Porto vs Sporting match.
Three straight draws in league play have left Porto (13-5-2) clinging to very slim title hopes and locked into a real battle with Braga for the country’s coveted second Champions League slot.
Porto vs Sporting Primeira Liga Odds
|Porto vs Sporting||POR -0.5 (+118) | SPO +0.5 (-148)||POR +115 | SPO +230 | DRAW +225||Ov 2.5 (+128) | Un 2.5 (-157)|
Odds taken Feb 26 at DraftKings
There is plenty of recent head-to-head history between the two sides, with Sporting winning three Cup contests via penalties between 2018 and 2019; league play has been more favorable for Saturday’s hosts, with Porto undefeated in six Primeira Liga meetings (4-2-0) vs Sporting.
Porto: Last Kick at the Can
While Porto remains technically ‘alive’ in three competitions — the Primeira Liga, Taça de Portugal and UEFA Champions League — one could make the argument it is on life support in the latter, having conceded a critical away goal to Juventus and now facing a return leg trip to Italy.
Anything less than three points on Saturday would likely lead to a white-flag situation and turn the Dragoes‘ focus toward the Taça and UCL — coming up on March 3 (vs Braga) and Marh 9 (at Juve) respectively.
Five games without a clean sheet will be a concern for the hosts entering this matchup against a red-hot Sporting attack.
Porto vs Sporting Stats
|13-5-2, 2nd||2020-21 Primeira Liga||17-3-0, 1st|
|45 (2.25/game)||Goals scored||42 (2.1/game)|
|22 (1.1/game)||Goals conceded||10 (0.5/game)|
|Taremi / Oliveira (9)||Leading Scorer||Gonçalves (14)|
|W – W – D – D – D||Overall Form||W – W – W – W – W|
|16-16-9||H2H Record Since 2007 (W-L-T)||16-16-9|
Sporting: Chasing History
Sporting’s unceremonious Europa League exit to Austria’s LASK Linz back in October has been a blessing in disguise for Amorim’s squad, allowing it to focus on domestic competitions and thrive.
A Taça da Liga triumph over Braga last month has set the Leoes up for their first league-cup double since 2001-02, and with the squad strengthened in January — as opposed to stripped of talent, as was initially expected — it’s likely Lisbon will turn green come the end of the season.
After a rollicking, ‘Over’-happy start to the campaign, Sporting has settled into a pragmatic stretch marked by first-half goals and clean sheets — as well as an outlier, last-gasp win over Benfica in the Lisbon Derby.
2021 UEFA Champions League Odds Tracker
Porto vs Sporting Best Bets
Make no mistake: Porto will come out with guns ablaze tactically — manager Sergio Conceicao’s team has to win in order to preserve any chance of engineering a second-half comeback for the Liga title.
Given the two squads are both averaging better than two goals/game in league play, Porto’s need to attack from the off and the fact both teams to score (BTTS) has hit in six of the last seven contests, the BTTS (-105) at near-even money is a strong play.
Additionally, with Sporting on two additional days’ rest and in better league form, a Sporting or Draw (-148) pick could be in play; Ruben Amorim’s team has confounded everybody by remaining undefeated and in first place to this point; why shouldn’t that theme continue?
Pick: Both Teams to Score (-105), Sporting or Draw (-148)
Carlos Verde is a sports media professional, with writing featured in a number of outlets, including the Epoch Times, Ottawa Life Magazine and Where is Football. He also served as a broadcast commentator for the United Soccer League’s Ottawa Fury FC.