Benfica will be aiming to record their seventh consecutive victory in all competitions when they take on Feirense in northern Portugal tonight. The newly-promoted side had a difficult start to the season, losing nine of their first fourteen league fixtures. However, their form has markedly improved under new coach Nuno Manta Santos; they have tasted defeat just twice in their last nine league games, and risen to 13th place in the Liga NOS.
Rui Vitória highlighted the positive impact made by the 38-year old coach in his pre-match press conference:
"I expect a difficult game, and the biggest compliment that I can give Feirense is to praise the work of Nuno Manta. We have to run hard and work hard. Normally, teams play us with a deep defensive line, but this is due to the fact that we circulate the ball well. Feirense will be waiting for our mistakes, so we have to be very focused."
The Eagles comfortably dispatched Feirense 4-0 at the Estádio da Luz back in October, but the Benfica boss is not expecting a repeat of that result this weekend.
"No two games are the same, and Feirense have already changed coach. The team came from the league below and has given a good performance... they are well-organised, know well what they want, and the results are appearing. They will be a team that will cause us difficulties, but we will go to Santa Maria da Feira to win, in order to give more joy to our supporters."
Jonas returned from his neck injury against Chaves, but was subsequently left out for the Portuguese cup clash with Estoril. The 32-year old signed a one-year contract extension this week, but will he make his 100th appearance for Benfica on Saturday night?
"Jonas is recuperating. He will travel with the squad, but we will only decide close to the game whether or not he will be available."
Ederson's excellent form has been rewarded with a call-up to the Brazil squad for their forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay and Paraguay. The 23-year old was previously selected for last summer's Copa América, but was forced to withdraw through injury. He will now get a second chance, after impressing Brazil's goalkeeping coach Cláudio Taffarel with his stunning performance against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.
Vitória revealed his delight at his goalkeeper's latest achievement:
"I'm very happy about Ederson's call-up and for all of those that represent their national teams. The Brazilian team could have called up both of our goalkeepers, and that reveals the quality of our squad. This is a reflection of the work of a whole team."