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Football | Portugal

Jorge Jesus © Action Images

Classico may be decisive for Benfica coach



Benfica coach Jorge Jesus does not need to dig out last season's script to know a victory at home to fierce rivals Porto in Sunday's 'Classico' could be decisive in his quest to reclaim the Portuguese title and extend his four-season tenure.

Jesus needs to avoid a repeat of Porto's thrilling 3-2 triumph in the same fixture in March - a defining moment as the winners went to the top of the table and eventually retained their crown.

The Benfica coach, whose contract ends this season, acknowledges that he probably has to end Porto's dominance to keep his job.

Twice former European champions Porto have won the league eight times in 10 seasons whereas Jesus claimed his solitary title with Benfica in 2009.

"Our big objective this year is the championship. I am not fulfilled because we are in a good position and we have had good results - I feel I still have a lot to win at Benfica," he said.

Just like a year ago, there is little between the two rivals at the top with Benfica holding a three-point lead over Porto who have a game in hand. Neither club has lost in the league this season.

"We go into the game with confidence and determination. The two sides chase the same thing at the 'Classico'," said Jesus.

Real Madrid defender Pepe, a former Porto player, does not anticipate either team slipping up too often this season.

"Because the two are very strong it is unlikely Porto and Benfica will lose many points against weaker sides. Who wins this match will take a very important step towards clinching the title," Pepe told Antena1 radio.

Porto coach Vitor Pereira took a different view.

"I don't believe the championship will be decided in the matches against Benfica because other teams have the capacity to take points away from us," he said.



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