LISBON (Reuters) - Porto might have been handed a pathway to regaining the Portuguese championship from Benfica but coach Sergio Conceicao says watching their arch rivals implode has only served to make his players nervous.
The two sides perennially battle for dominance in Portugal but Benfica have suffered a horror drop in form since the return from the COVID-19 lockdown, allowing Porto to go six points clear with five games left.
Benfica lost 2-0 at struggling Maritimo on Monday but the result hardly emboldened Porto for their match later that night at Pacos Ferreira.
“We can’t think too much about what the others are doing because then we end up not doing our job,” said Conceicao after his side’s unconvincing 1-0 victory moved them onto 70 points, six clear of Benfica.
“In fact, there was some anxiety in the game due to the fact that players were aware of other result, which is something they now have easy access to,” he added.
“The total focus has to be on our work. We depend only on ourselves and we have to win our games. Crisis at other clubs is not our concern.”
Benfica will look to cut the defecit when they host Boavista on Saturday while Porto host Belenenses the following day.
Porto finished two points behind Benfica in last year’s title race but were champions in 2018.
Overall Benfica have won 37 championships to Porto’s 28. The pair have been won every league title since Sporting Lisbon’s 2002 success.
Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Peter Rutherford