Benfica take on Braga at 'The Quarry' on Sunday night, needing three points to overhaul Porto at the top of the Liga NOS after the Dragons defeated Tondela on Friday. Rui Vitória is braced for a battle despite Braga's indifferent form under their new coach Jorge Simão. In the seven league games since his appointment, the Arsenalistas have triumphed just twice, and they are without a win in four league games.
"The game will be difficult because it is a good opponent despite some less good (recent) results. SC Braga will want to win, but we will not change... we will maintain the demands [that we place on ourselves]. We are motivated to follow up what we have (already) done."
Benfica will be without last season's top goalscorer Jonas, who is still struggling with the neck injury that ruled him out of Tuesday's Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund.
"Jonas is not available for the game with SC Braga. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to have that continuity of picking the same players [from game to game]. Against SC Braga, we will see (some) new dynamics. There's no Jonas, (so) another will play. We go there to win."
Portugal's refereeing crisis reared its ugly head again on Friday when Porto were awarded a dubious penalty by Luís Ferreira with the scores locked at 0-0. The 39-year old official then produced a second yellow for Tondela defender Yordan Osorio, with replays showing that Porto striker Tiquinho Soares had actually initiated the contact. Ferreira previously courted controversy at the Estádio da Luz in January, when he failed to spot glaring infringements in the build-up to Boavista's first and third goals.
Even before the events at the Estádio do Dragão this weekend, the Benfica hierarchy had demanded an emergency meeting with the Portuguese Football Federation's Council of Arbitration, arguing that a "climate of intimidation" towards match officials had led to a series of questionable decisions "in recent matchweeks". So what are Rui Vitória's thoughts on the matter?
"We are very focused on our task, and we are here for the fight until the end. The (real) decisions are defined in May. (But) we are attentive to everything, and we want improvement in aspects of the refereeing."
"Three weeks ago at the [Estádio da] Luz there was a game that should go into the Guiness [book of records], with three goals in half an hour (all) preceded by refereeing errors. What was my stance at the end of the game? Zero! I didn't say anything! Perhaps the majority of my counterparts would have got to the end of the game and said this and that..."
Benfica's coach also highlighted the bizarre decision of referee João Pinhero to deny his team a penalty in their 1-0 defeat to Vitória de Setúbal on Matchweek 19, when André Carrillo was blatantly fouled in the box in second half stoppage time.
"In Setúbal, did we play a bad game? We did. But there was still (a mistake) at the finish, and what was it that I said? Nothing!"
"I don't want to be the good student in the class here. I'm very tolerant, but they can't play around with my work, nor with that of my players!"