NICK LEYDEN - Friday, January 21, 2011
Tony Taylor and Greg Garza are not likely to feature in Estoril's starting lineup when they host Belenenses on Saturday afternoon, but both will hope to play a role off the bench.
For two teams that began the season with serious promotion hopes, the weekend's matchup at the Estádio António Coimbra da Mota will take on unexpected signifance for the relegation race.
Os Canarinhos currently sit a mere point above the drop zone with 16 points from 14 games, while Belenses have claimed just 17 points.
Despite seeing the field for all 90 minutes in a productive midweek tie against Naval in the Taça da Liga, former US youth international Taylor is likely to return to the bench.
Vinícius Eutrópio fielded a lineup consisting of numerous reserves against their first division opponents, but is likely to recall his preferred starting eleven for the pivotal league game.
Eutrópio does have two injury concerns as the statuses of defender Marco Silva and influential midfielder Tiago Costa, who had x-rays on his left knee on Thursday, are still in the air.
The Brazilian's midfield options will be bolstered, however, by the presence of compatriot Carlos Eduardo. The 21 year old was Os Canarinhos' only transfer window signing and is expected to be handed his debut.
Belenenses, who are one of only two teams other than Sporting, Benfica and Porto to ever win the Portuguese championship in its nearly 80 year history, will provide the hosts with an interesting clash of styles.
Estoril play stout defense, having not allowed more than two goals in any game this season, while the visitors are one of Liga Orangina's most dangerous attacking teams.
Both Miguel Rosa and Celestino are among the top five goalscorers in the league, and the Lisbon outfit has scored seven goals in its previous two games.
As effective as the attack has been, though, the defense has been equally leaky, surrendering at least two goals in each of their previous three games.