SL Benfica - Sporting Club Portugal (Lisbon) – Derby de Lisboa
The Derby de Lisboa, also known as Derby Eterno, Derby da Segunda Circular or Derby da Capital, is the most important football derby match in Portugal. It is played between the Lisbon teams of Benfica and Sporting. The major rivalry originated back in 1907, when eight Benfica players moved to Sporting, before the first derby. The match is followed worldwide, especially in the former Portuguese colonies.
This match day transfer really stirred things up creating much controversy and anguish among the fans of Benfica. Sporting won their first Derby match 2-1, following a goal by one of the Benfica players who had switched sides and another player’s own goal in the second half of the match.
As with many local rivalries that you can read about on this website, the division between the two Clubs was class oriented. Benfica’s Estadio de Luz was initially built up with cement and money donated by its supporters – hence it regards itself as a “people’s club”. By contrast Sporting considered itself a club for the upper echelons of Portugese society, supported by the kings and queens of Portugal and members of the aristocracy.
It took a member of the all-time footballing aristocracy to change the respective fortunes of the two clubs – the arrival at Benfica of Eusebio, better known to fans as O Rei. He is one of the biggest legends in the club’s history.
Eusebio scored 317 goals in 301 league appearances for SL Benfica, an amazing contribution. At the time Eusebio arrived at Estadio da Luz, both the rival clubs were equals with 10 domestic league titles each. But when he left Benfica in 1975, the club had won 21 titles as opposed to their rivals Sporting at 14 titles.
This could have ended in Sporting’s favor had they realized O Rei’s talents and offered him a better contract then Benfica. Nonetheless, the Red side of Lisbon had signed a formidable legend who transformed Benfica into the unprecedented champions of Portugal dethroning Sporting, and was instrumental in helping his club secure the European Cup and placing them 7 titles ahead of their rivals by the end of his career at Benfica in 1975. Sporting could have signed him but didn’t and this still rankles with their fans.
Sporting haven’t won a title since 2002 and the rivalry these days seems tipped towards Benfica (known as the “red team”) who have won 34 Primeira Lige titles (the most recent in 2014-15) compared to Sporting’s 18 as well as 2 Champions’ League titles. In the all-time head to head statistics, Benfica lead 128-106 with a goal advantage of 501-456.
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