The second leg of the Portuguese Cup semi-finals are played this midweek, with a place in the traditional showpiece finale to the domestic season at the Jamor National Stadium at stake.
On Tuesday, on the northern tip of Portugal, Chaves will attempt to overturn a 2-0 deficit from the first leg against Vitória Guimarães, while on Wednesday Benfica defend a 2-1 lead against Estoril in Lisbon.
As in the first-leg matches, PortuGOAL have teamed up with oz.com to offer full HD live streaming of the semi-finals for Portuguese football fans around the world.
The service is offered via OZ at www.oz.com and these matches are priced at €3.99 (Chaves-Vitória Guimarães) and €4.99 (Benfica-Estoril).
Chaves-Vitória Guimarães preview
Back in the top flight after 17 years in the lower divisions, Chaves have had a superb season, exceeding all expectations by staying in the top half of the table and embarking on a fantastic Cup run.
Having already knocked out Porto and Sporting in earlier rounds, Chaves will not have given up hope of making the final despite the 2-0 defeat in the first leg. And with wingers Fábio Martins and Perdigão and attacking midfielder Braga all impressing this season, and the passionate fans in Trás-os-Montes fully behind them, it could be quite a night at the Estadio Municipal Engenheiro Manuel Branco Teixeira.
Chaves went through a recent dip if form, the defeat in the first leg one of 5 matches in which they suffered 4 defeats and managed just one draw. But a win on Friday against Paços de Ferreira will have boosted confidence, as will their outstanding home record: only 1 defeat in 16 matches in all competitions in 2016/17.
Nevertheless, Vitória Guimarães go into the match as strong favourites. As well as the comfort of a healthy 1st-leg lead, Pedro Martins’ side are unbeaten in their last seven matches, and rose to 4th in the table after victory in Madeira against Nacional at the weekend.
Moreover, they achieved the win despite resting most of their regular starters. Save a slight wobble after losing Brazilian striker Tiquinho Soares to Porto in January, Vitória have enjoyed an excellent season and will be looking to crown it with an appearance in the Portuguese Cup final, probably against Benfica in what would be a repeat of the 2012/13 final.
Prediction: Chaves 2-1 Vitória Guimarães (agg. 2-3)
A month ago, after Benfica won the first leg 2-1 away, and given Estoril’s horrendous form at the time, the outcome of this semi-final seemed like a foregone conclusion.
But Estoril have been given a new lease of life since Pedro Emmanuel replaced Pedro Gomez Carmona in the dugout. An unbeaten run of three matches, including a crucial victory at Tondela at the weekend, have allayed relegation fears.
With nothing to lose, and former FC Porto striker Kléber suddenly finding his shooting boots (4 goals in his last 5 games), Estoril make the short trip to the capital with hope in their heart.
Benfica put in one of their most impressive performances of the season on Saturday as only some uncharacteristic lax finishing by the normally lethal duo of Jonas and Mitroglou and some superb saves by Iker Casillas prevented them from beating Porto.
With a slim one-point lead at the top of the table, Benfica will certainly rest several first teamers, but even so it would be a huge shock if they fail to book their place in the final.
Prediction: Benfica 2-0 Estoril (agg. 4-1)
By Tom Kundert