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 Atmosphere report

Sporting Lisbon - Benfica (1-1)
Bwin Liga, 02 March 2008
Stadium : Jose Alvalade
Attendance : 45.000

I planned a whole holiday around seeing this game. I booked a 4-star hotel to make sure that if I contacted them before arriving they would be able to get the tickets for me. After a bit of messing about with e-mails I got a confirmation two days before leaving that I had got them.

I paid 40 euro per ticket, plus a 10 euro tip to the hotel for arranging the tickets for me. The hotel receptionist was a Sporting socio and told us to catch the underground to Campo Grande about two hours before kick off to avoid trouble.

When we arrived at the stadium it was very busy outside the ground, around the bus and metro station even so early before kick off. We decided to go straight into the stadium and the queue was quite long even then. You get searched before entering the ground, but some illegal items still get in.

The seats were right at the back of what would be the 'Tribuna' in Italy. From here you can't see the other side of the stadium because the roof slopes downward but you have a great view of the pitch and the leg room is excellent.

The ground filled quite slowly and it turned out there was still quite a few empty seats mainly around the fences that separated the areas of the ground. Some people prefer to sit on the steps or stand right at the back. I began to notice a number of Benfica fans sitting close to us, even though it was supposed to be home fans only here.

As the match began the atmosphere really started to heat up, with some good attacking play by Sporting. This culminated in the home side taking the lead on 11 minutes through Vukcevic. The home crowd went mad and the stadium began to shake. Numerous flares made their way onto the field from the Juventude Lion Ultras. These Ultras seemed far more hardcore than the Ultras sat at the other end, who just enjoyed singing, although I'm not sure what they were saying.

However, the home side couldn’t maintain this pressure and Benfica slowly worked their way back into the match. Just before half time a Rui Costa corner was met by the head of Cardozo and the Benfica fans went mad. This seemed to result in a near fight breaking out quite close to us, which is always a danger when rival fans are sitting in the same stand.

The riot Police did feel forced to enter the area where the hardcore Sporting Ultras were sat soon after. They slowly moved in and started hitting the Ultras, who tried to flee by climbing across the seats to get away. This could have resulted in far worse injuries.

The second half was far calmer and there weren't many chances for either side to win the game. Sporting should probably have had a penalty, but the referee didn't give it. Benfica were reduced to 10 men with 15 minutes left when Nelson was red carded, but the decision was a poor one. However, Sporting couldn't make the most of their man advantage and the game ended 1-1.

We slowly exited the ground, but were still greeted with large queues at the metro station. I didn't see any trouble, but a Policeman told us the day after that there had been some fights between the two sets of Ultras. I really think the Lisbon Police need to get a better grip, they didn't even have a helicopter which you would see at any major sporting event in the UK.

All in all it was a very enjoyable experience. It would be nice to see the game at the Estadio Da Luz next time.

Report added : 09 March 2008
Report by : Neil
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