Portuguese champions Benfica get begin their title defence at home to Braga on Wednesday, with their team looking vastly different to this time last year. Braga will have been disappointed to have finished fifth last time around, with manager Abel Ferreira having taken over on a full-time basis despite a poor end to the campaign. Benfica were a firm favourite among betting punters last season, winning 25 of their 34 matches, with many expecting them to kick-start their campaign with three points against Braga. Let’s take a look at the two teams in further detail, as well as our top betting tip for the clash.
Ederson, Victor Lindelof, Nelson Semedo and Marcal have all departed Benfica over the summer, with manager Rui Vitória having so far failed to sign any recognised replacements for such crucial first team players. Having only lost two games throughout the entirety of last season in the Portuguese top-flight, an opening day defeat would certainly come as a surprise at the Estádio da Luz. Benfica were also the top scorers in the division last time too, with Greek striker Konstantinos Mitroglou hoping to pick up where he left off in front of goal. Despite Benfica not having some of the star names as they once had, they are still the favourites to beat Braga, as well as defend their title come the end of the season.
Braga were a team that continuously struggled for consistency last season, with ten defeats denting their chances of reaching the Champions League qualification places. Finishing a massive 28-points behind Benfica in the table, a trip to the Estadio da Luz is hardly the start that manager Ferreira would have wished for. Despite this, Braga certainly have the quality to cause the home side problems in the final third. However, the visitors have failed to beat Benfica in the league since 2014, showing the champions dominance over recent years.
Top Betting Tip
Given the recent fortunes of the two sides, it is difficult to look beyond a home win for Benfica on the opening round of the season. However, we are predicting a tight encounter, with a small number of goals being scored. As a result, our top betting tip is to back Benfica to win by a margin of just one goal, which can be backed at odds of 13/5 at popular online bookmaker, Ladbrokes.