A derby which offers choreographies, pyrotechnics and intense atmosphere, welcome to the Derby de Lisboa, between Sporting Clube de Portugal and Sport Lisboa e Benfica.

SL Benfica were the host of the Lisbon Derby in April 2013. (Creative Commons)

SL Benfica were the host of the Lisbon Derby in April 2013. (Creative Commons)

There may be just three kilometres between Sporting CP’s Estadio de Alvalade and SL Benfica’s Estadio da Luz, but the Primeira Liga is closer than ever this season.

“The passion is intense and can boil over at times,” said Tom Kundert, namely when Sporting fans set Benfica’s stadium on fire in 2011: “and of course the ultras often go over the limits. Nevertheless, violence is not usually associated with the fixtures.”

Sunday’s Derby de Lisboa is the 294th meeting between the two sides, and with just seven points separating Benfica in first, and Sporting in third, the race for the title is as close as ever.

“Benfica aren’t as strong as they have been in the last few seasons after their crippling debts forced them to sell half their first team in the summer,” Kundert added. “Coach Jorge Jesus has done a fantastic job keeping them ticking along without much of a blip, at least domestically.”

“The Os Três Grandes is so much bigger than the other teams in the Liga, so whenever they face each other they much be on their absolute best to succeed,” said Portuguese football expert, Jan Hagen. “This is what makes this match so intense.”

Sporting’s last league title came over a decade ago, winning the Primeira Liga in the 2001-02 season. Whilst Benfica have won the league three times since Sporting last secured a Championship.

Benfica have also had the better of the derby meetings down the years, winning 128 of them, whilst also having more title wins than their counterparts.

Having formed in 1904 by two smaller clubs, one with an Eagle badge, and the other with a pitch, Benfica was then born. The club, then led by club captain, Anglophile Cosme Damiao insisted that only Portuguese players featured for the Eagles.

Half the members left two years later to form the club, Sporting, under a local landowner, Viscount of Alvalade.

A rivalry was then born in 1907, Sporting had eight former Benfica players in their squad, beating their rivals 2-1 on a rainy day in Lisbon. A year later, Sporting won yet again, only this game had an atmosphere with violence and intimidation.

After losing 1-0 away to their rivals, Benfica in 2011, the Sporting Ultras, Juventude Leonina 1976 set fire to the Estadio da Luz, taking their loss to the next extreme.

Sporting CP’s Ultra Juventude Leonina 1976. (via ultras-tifo.net)

Eric Drier, now of Tottenham Hotspur once told Standard Sport: “It’s just incredibly hostile. The fans are very close to the pitch, like in England, and there is a lot of hatred between the sets of fans.”

The Juventude Leonina 1976 are the oldest fan club of Sporting Clube de Portugal, founded in 1976. The Sporting ultras are also the oldest, official fan club in Portugal.

JuveLeo76: “is a family that is united by one love,” said Ana Margarida. Located in the south stand, JuveLeo76 can be found with choreographies and often colourful pyrotechnics leading up to the kick-off, and Sunday’s derby will be no different.

via @Ultra Juventude Leonina 1976