LIGA NOS: NACIONAL v PORTIMONENSE
Portimonense travel to Madeira tomorrow (Friday) for the first of four remaining ‘big’ matches against immediate rivals during the forthcoming end-of-season run-in which will determine top division survival.
The islanders (Nacional da Madeira) enjoyed a good start to the 2020/21 campaign but have more recently suffered a six-match losing run stretching back to the beginning of February, featuring successive defeats to Farense, Belenenses, Braga, Paços de Ferreira, Marítimo and Gil Vicente.
Portimonense, who won this fixture 1-0 in the Algarve last November, will be hoping to gain a further three invaluable points despite the probable absence of Fali Candé and Jafar Salmani, who have only just returned from international duty with Guinea-Bissau and Iran, respectively.
Looking further ahead, manager Paulo Sérgio’s men can expect little change from their future home encounters with Benfica and Braga, with both opponents still battling out the Champions League slots with Porto and Sporting, while matches against sixth-placed Vitória de Guimarães (home), Rio Ave (h) in ninth, Belenenses (away) 10th and Moreirense (h) eighth should at least offer the opportunity to garner some points on home soil. More decisive, however, will be the outcome of the away clashes with equally relegation-threatened Famalicão, Farense and Boavista in what should prove to be a fascinating race to the line.
Away from the action on the pitch, Sporting Lisbon have decided to pay Portimonense another €4.5 million for Bruno Tabata. The Brazilian U-23 midfielder changed hands for €500,000 last summer with the Algarveans retaining 90% of any future transfer rights – the additional lump sum will now see that potential profit split 50/50 between the two clubs.
By SKIP BANDELE