Benfica welcome Belenenses to the Estádio da Luz on Monday night, with the Eagles needing all three points to overhaul Porto at the top of the Liga NOS. Quim Machado's team are in excellent form, having picked up three wins and three draws from their previous six games. In his pre-match press conference, Rui Vitória promised that Benfica would show no ill-effects of their 4-0 drubbing by Borussia Dortmund.
"Clearly we have the notion that we wanted to win all of the games, including the one in Dortmund. We weren't able to, and we must keep a cool head... life goes on. I know how my players react, I know the mood of all of us. Now we want Monday's game to arrive, to compete and to play. We are not resigned, nor satisfied, but we have objectives to achieve. And here we are, ready for tomorrow's game. We want to play at home, with our public, and to win."
"We will play at home, with great determination to win in front of our supporters. We will face a good team that has been having a quality campaign, that are assimilating [their coach’s ideas] with every game. They have added quality players to the group. We expect a difficult game, but also a very enjoyable one, between two teams from Lisbon."
The 46-year old did not mention any of Belenenses’ players by name, but he is likely to have been referring to Brazilian striker Maurides, the brother of former Porto captain Maicon. The young forward has scored three goals in three games since arriving from Internacional in January.
Vitória was criticised by sectors of the Portuguese press after the Dortmund defeat, with some pundits questioning his decision to field André Almeida in central midfield. The Benfica coach did not address this issue specifically, declaring simply: "Criticism makes for growth and learning."
With FC Porto in excellent form, the title race looks like it could go down to the wire. Benfica play host to their arch-rivals at the beginning of April, in a game that should help to decide the fate of the 2016/17 Primeira Liga. Vitória attempted to quell the hype surrounding the fixture, noting that his team has a total of twelve matches left to play, assuming they reach the final of the Portuguese cup.
"I'm only concerned with my team, in preparing (for) the games and preparing the players in the best way (possible) to enter the field and win the three points."
"We have two more games before the Clássico, and this is what concerns us. It is not the time to make analyses of this nature at this moment."
"We want to win tomorrow! We are ready for this Championship until the end. There are twelve 'finals' remaining."