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Benfica

Ground: Estádio da Luz

Visits: 1

Date: 3rd January 2018

Match: Benfica - Sporting Clube de Portugal  1-1  (Primeira Liga)

Attendance: 61 996

In recent years I have travelled to the UK around the New Year. 2017/18 would be an exception though. It was possible for me to visit two new 92 grounds in England but when I found out Benfica were hosting Sporting in Portugal´s Primeira Liga on Wednesday evening I booked a trip to Portugal, a Lisbon derby was something I couldn´t miss out on. My only previous trip to Portugal was in 2009 when I went to attended Portugal v Sweden in a World Cup qualifier at Estádio do Dragao in Porto. That meant I had plenty of options and early on I could decide where to go Wednesday (Benfica v Sporting CP) and Thursday (Vitoria Setúbal v Estoril). Fixtures for the following weekend weren´t confirmed until two weeks before they were being played though. Disappointingly no games on Friday evening and only one game, Braga v Rio Ave, in Primeira Liga on Saturday evening. Two days later fixtures in Liga Pro, the Portuguese second division, were confirmed and to my delight I found out it was possible to do at least a double. First up was the Lisbon derby though and at first only members could buy tickets. Six days before the game tickets went on general sale and I quickly bought one for the top tier of the East Stand. I was by now really looking forward to my trip and on Thursday afternoon I headed towards Copenhagen airport. The only direct flight from Copenhagen to Lisbon was at 06.10 and that is too early for me. I decided to fly with Iberia, via Madrid, and at 19.50 local time I was in Lisbon. My hotel was around 30 minutes with the metro from the airport and once in my room I could finally relax.

I slept late on Wednesday morning and after having a long breakfast I headed towards Estádio da Luz, the home of Benfica, to visit the museum and do the stadium tour. Despite their website saying otherwise there were no stadium tours today though but at least I could visit the museum. Once I had found the entrance that is, walked past it without noticing it was the actual entrance! With 36 league titles and two European cups Benfica are Portugal´s most successful team and there are plenty of trophies to look at in the museum. Sport Lisboa e Benfica, the full name of the club, was founded in 1904 and the club has teams in several different sports. In the beginning the club used plenty of small rented grounds in the Lisbon area but in 1954 the club moved to Estádio da Luz. The old Estádio da Luz was demolished though and in 2003 the new version, next to the old one, was opened in time for the 2004 European championships. Estádio da Luz has a capacity of around 65 000 and Benfica regularly averages more than 50 000 at their Primeira Liga games. Having been to the museum I went to the city centre where I did some sightseeing. For this trip I was joined by Julian, a groundhopper from Berlin, and after a late lunch I met up with him over a cup of coffee. It was almost exactly a year ago since we last met so plenty of catching up to do. Kick-off for the derby was at 21.30 and two hours or so before kick-off I was once again outside the ground. There were already thousands of enthusiastic fans and it was obvious this was a big day for football fans in Lisbon. My seat was five rows from the top of the East Stand and from there I had an excellent view. The 4-5000 Sporting fans were to my right. They were very thoroughly searched before they were allowed to enter the ground but they all made it to kick-off. Sporting´s ground is less than 2 km from Estádio da Luz and as I understand it their fans marched from there to the derby. One of Benfica´s symbols is an American eagle and before every home game an eagle is flying from the roof and is eventually landing in the centre spot. Benfica actually have three eagles who on non-matchdays sit behind one of the goals (I am not kidding you, see pictures below). This time around the eagle made a perfect landing.

As the players entered a tifo in red and covered the home stands. Some pyros from both sets of fans and an overall a great atmosphere. There were actually a few empty seats in the Benfica end but 62 000 is still an excellent attendance for Benfica. The Sporting fans created a great atmosphere throughout the match but home fans only occasionally made some real noise. Sporting made it 0-1 in the 19th minute and despite hitting the underside of the bar and having a strong penalty appeal it was still 0-1 after 45 minutes. In the second half Benfica had most of the possession but it wasn´t until the 90th minute they could find that equalizing goal, 1-1 from the penalty spot. In stoppage time Benfica had a great chance to snatch all three points and the atmosphere was by now electric. The game ended 1-1 though and at 00.40(!) I was finally back in my hotel room. On Thursday morning I went back to the ground for the stadium tour and being only six people in the group it was a well-spent hour of my life.

Estadio-da-Luz.JPG

Estádio da Luz

East-Stand-rear.JPG

Rear of the East Stand

E-Pluribus-Unum.JPG

E Pluribus Unum (Out of many, one)

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Graffiti

Statue-Eusebio.JPG

Statue of Eusebio

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Eusebio

Statue-Guttman.JPG

Statue of Bela Guttman

Trophies.JPG

Titles won by Benfica

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Reigning Portuguese champions

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League trophies

Sven-Goeran-Eriksson.JPG

A successful Swedish manager

South-Stand.JPG

South Stand

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West Stand

West-Stand.JPG

West Stand

North-Stand.JPG

North Stand

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North Stand

East-Stand.JPG

East Stand

Players-tunnel.JPG

Player´s tunnel

Eagles.JPG

Eagles

Eagle.JPG

Eagle

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Souvenirs

Estadio-da-Luz-at-night.JPG

Estádio da Luz at night

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Fans outside the ground

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Sporting fans outside the ground

Eagle-has-landed.JPG

The eagle has landed

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Kick-off

South-Stand2.JPG

South Stand

Spelbild.JPG

View of play

West-Stand3.JPG

West Stand - tifo

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West Stand

Pyro-Benfica.JPG

Pyro

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North Stand

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Sporting fans

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Sporting fans

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1-1 from the penalty spot

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Goal celebrations

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Pano

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Pano

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Pano

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Pano