MX23RW : Wednesday, August 4 23:30:35| >> :600:527726:527726:
Mar 21, 2021 at 8pm UK at Estadio Municipal
BragaBraga
0-2
BenficaBenfica

Fransergio (27')
Fransergio (39')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Silva (45+2'), Seferovic (56')
Otamendi (16'), Goncalves (45+1'), Pizzi (65'), Weigl (70')

Preview: Braga vs. Benfica - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Primeira Liga clash between Braga and Benfica, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

The highlight of the weekend's Primeira Liga action takes place on Sunday, as third-placed Braga play host to fourth-placed Benfica.

With just two points separating the sides in the Primeira Liga table, both will have their sights set on this game as a huge chance to boost their chances of European qualification for next season.


Match preview

Braga head coach Carlos Carvalhal pictured in December 2020© Reuters

Braga will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing draw last time out, as a late Heriberto Tavares goal saw them share the points in a 2-2 draw with strugglers Famalicao, after Ricardo Horta and Ali Musrati put them ahead in the first half.

Before that, Os Arcebispos raced to second place in the top flight with a four-game winning run in league action, defeating Santa Clara, Tondela, Nacional and Vitoria de Guimaraes.

However, that recent draw saw them fall behind second-placed Porto, now occupying third spot.

Carlos Carvalhal's men also recently advanced to the final of the Taca de Portugal with a second-leg victory over Porto in the semi-final, as an Abel Ruiz brace and a Lucas Piazon goal fired them to a 3-2 away win on the night and a 4-3 aggregate victory.

The Archbishops now turn their attention firmly back to league action, as they look to put a five-point gap between themselves and Benfica.

However, that will be no easy task as the visitors will be desperate for a win of their own to break back into the top three.

Benfica coach Jorge Jesus in the Europa League on February 18, 2021© Reuters

After an inconsistent run of results in the league, Jorge Jesus's side have managed to put together a run of three consecutive wins to put pressure back on the sides above them.

Last time out, As Aguias were fired to a 2-0 victory over Boavista by a Haris Seferovic brace.

Before that, Benfica recorded a 3-0 win away at Belenenses, as Seferovic again netted two goals alongside a Lucas Verissimo finish.

Jesus definitely has reason to be encouraged based on his side's recent performances, having won their last four games in all competitions without conceding a goal.

However, that good work could be undone if they do not pick up a result against a Braga side who sit two points above them in the league table, as European qualification is deemed necessary for the 39-time Primeira Liga champions.

Braga Primeira Liga form:
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • D

Braga form (all competitions):
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • D

Benfica Primeira Liga form:
  • W
  • D
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W

Benfica form (all competitions):
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W


Team News

Benfica's Darwin Nunez celebrates with a teammate after scoring against Rangers on November 5, 2020© Reuters

Braga will come into this game without important centre-back David Carmo, who remains out of contention with an ankle fracture.

He is not Carvalhal's only injury worry though, as Andre Castro, Iuri Medeiros and Francisco Moura all continue spells on the sidelines.

Forward Abel Ruiz will have renewed confidence in front of goal, having netted his first two league goals of the season in the last three games, alongside the brace against Porto in the cup victory.

Benfica come into this game with a fairly full squad available for selection, following the returns of Darwin Nunez and Jan Vertonghen to the squad.

Vertonghen may not be risked yet, and could remain on the bench, especially given the strong defensive performances of Verissimo in his absence.

Meanwhile, Nunez faces plenty of competition up top, as Luca Waldschmidt and Haris Seferovic have led a lethal attack in recent weeks, with Seferovic netting five goals in his last three league outings.

Helton Leite has recently taken over from Odysseas Vlachodimos in the Benfica goal, with Jesus trusting the Brazilian in important games.

Braga possible starting lineup:
Matheus; Esgaio, Tormena, Rodrigues, Borja; Piazon, Elmusrati, Fransergio, Galeno; Horta, Ruiz

Benfica possible starting lineup:
Leite; Goncalves, Verissimo, Vertonghen, Grimaldo; Silva, Pizzi, Weigl, Everton; Waldschmidt, Seferovic


SM words green background

We say: Braga 0-2 Benfica

Despite Braga's impressive recent form, we see Benfica extending their resurgence with a statement victory on the road on Sunday.

As Aguias undoubtedly pose a major threat to any team in the league when they are firing as a unit, and they look to be hitting their stride once again, presenting a real threat to Braga.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a double chance bet on a draw or an away win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Draw/Away:data


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How you voted: Braga vs Benfica

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Draw
28.6%
Benfica
50.0%
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Sporting Lisbon's Pedro Goncalves celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates in January 2021
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· The women's heptathlon continues with the long jump, javelin and 800m, with Katarina Johnson-Thompson now out of contention following an injury (1.10am-1.40pm)
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