Goal.com takes a look at Friday's clash at the Estadio da Luz and breaks down the key ingredients which will make this mouthwatering contest the highlight in Europe this weekendANALYSIS
By Luis Mira | Portuguese Football Editor
It is a huge weekend of European club football, and most eyes will be on three massive matches in England and Italy - Liverpool versus Arsenal at Anfield, Spurs versus Manchester United in London and the ferocious Rome derby between Roma and Lazio.
But there is a less talked about match on Friday night in Portugal between bitter rivals Benfica and Porto at the Estadio da Luiz which is just as worth watching.
The two clubs are level on points at the top of the Primeira Liga, but Porto have the edge over their rivals in the standings on goal difference. With only 10 games left before the season ends, every game will be more decisive than ever and neither side can consider the possibility of dropping any points, with Sporting Braga just three points behind them in third place.Below, Goal.com presents five reasons why you should not miss this encounter. Also, remember to log on to our website at 21.15CET tonight for live commentary, match report, ratings, and reactions from the big game.
|SPAIN AND PORTUGAL'S FUTURE STRIKERS
Benfica duo Rodrigo and Nelson Oliveira will undoubtedly provide an extra source of interest to Friday's match as they could make their first-ever appearance against the Portuguese champions.
Born in Brazil, Rodrigo is an Under-21 international for Spain and the youngster has garnered interest from a host of clubs in Europe. He has so far netted 14 goals in all competitions and moved up ahead of Javier Saviola in the club's pecking order. His performances will earn him a place in Spain's Olympic squad for London 2012 and he is widely expected to be a part of the senior team in a few years' times.
After impressing for Portugal in the Under-20 World Cup last summer, Oliveira was finally given the chance to feature for Benfica's main team this season - an opportunity he has made the most of. Despite his slow start to life in coach Jorge Jesus' squad, mainly featuring in the League Cup at first, he has gradually worked his way up the ranks and made substitute appearances in the club's last three league matches. The 20-year-old's growth has not gone unnoticed and he earned his first-ever Portugal cap on Wednesday in the friendly against Poland.
|MARC JANKO TO MATCH FALCAO?
The Austria international signed for Porto on deadline day of the January transfer window in a €3 million deal as the club had been short of attacking options following the departure of Radamel Falcao to Atletico Madrid in the summer.
Janko proved an immediate success in the team, scoring a goal in each of his first three matches to relegate Kleber to the bench. The former Red Bull Salzburg ace has shown great positioning in the 18-yard box and a lethal touch, but the 28-year-old has yet to face top opposition in Portugal.
Benfica will come as the first real test for the Austrian, who will be eager to make his mark in the game to prove that he is the answer to Porto's goalscoring problems.
|BOTH COACHES HAVE JOBS UNDER THREAT
Friday's match has a special meaning for both coaches as they know that winning the league is the only chance they have of keeping their jobs at the end of the season.
Vitor Pereira has never been a favourite amongst Porto's fans after taking over from Andre Villas-Boas in the summer. The 43-year-old had little previous experience and he has made some questionable decisions, which have often proved fatal. Porto's elimination in the Champions League group stage and the 6-1 aggregate thrashing at the hands of Manchester City in the Europa League have put Pereira's job under threat.
For Jorge Jesus, everything appeared to be going smoothly, until two weeks ago. Benfica were in the running in the Champions League, while their five-point lead over Porto seemed more than comfortable. However, a 3-2 defeat at Zenit St Petersburg in the Champions League was followed by a 1-0 loss against Vitoria de Guimaraes and a goalless draw at Academica de Coimbra, and suddenly everything is at risk. With so much at stake, a victory on Friday will be a real lifeline for either coach.
|HULK NEEDS TO JUSTIFY HIS REPUTATION
The Brazilian attacker was the top scorer in the Portuguese Liga in 2010-11 with 23 goals, but things have not been going his way this season, with only seven strikes to his name in the competition.
Hulk has drawn blanks in the last six league matches, something that has only happened twice before. On both occasions, though, the striker put an end to his dry spell in the seventh game.
The 25-year-old has caught the eye of several clubs in Europe in recent times, but his recent displays may cool the interest of all potential suitors. Hulk needs to return to the scoresheet as quickly as possible, and what better game than this to do just that.
|GAITAN MUST DO MORE TO IMPRESS MANCHESTER CLUBS
The Argentina international has performed below his usual standards in recent months, which has undoubtedly had an impact in the team's attacking output. Jorge Jesus has blamed the player's dip in form on work overload, caused by the excessive number of games he has played for both club and country, but the possibility that his focus has been affected by the speculation surrounding his future cannot be ruled out.
Manchester United and Manchester City have both been credited with an interest in Gaitan, whose level began to drop in December when reports about a potential winter transfer began to surface.
Jesus has kept his faith in his star winger, but he has not been able to repay the favour on the field: since December, he has only played the full 90 minutes three times. The 24-year-old needs to put in a good showing against Porto to give Benfica's attack a significant boost, but also to keep the scouts flocking to check on him.
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