- Title favorites Benfica -112 as they host Porto in the first edition of the Portuguese Classico this season
- New-look Rio Ave -110 as they play their home opener against surprising Aves squad
- Maritimo worth a look at even money (+101) at home against relegation candidates Tondela
The third matchday of Portugal’s Liga NOS kicks off with a pair of contests Friday, though all eyes will be fixed firmly on Saturday’s O Classico between Benfica and Porto at the former’s Estadio da Luz.
It’s been 17 years since anybody other than those two has won the domestic league (Sporting in 2001-02), and that matchup has subsequently become the marquee event on every Portuguese fan’s calendar.
Porto are reeling off a Champions League exit at the hands of Krasnodar and shockingly dropped points on Matchday 1, while Benfica has rolled through its first two matches.
Benfica vs Porto Odds
|Benfica||-0.5 (-112)||-112||O 2.5 (+105)|
|Porto||+0.5 (-108)||+290||U 2.5 (-125)|
*All odds taken 8/22/19
All signs point to a Benfica win here; the Eagles have claimed six points from six to begin the league with confident wins over Paços (5-0) and Belenenses (2-0), while Porto has already stumbled twice against Krasnodar (2-3) and lowly Gil Vicente (1-2).
There are concerns about Sergio Conceicao’s squad — Porto did lose multiple cornerstone pieces this summer — and the team’s upcoming five-game stretch of Benfica, Guimaraes, Portimonense, Santa Clara and Rio Ave is not easy.
13 – SL Benfica have scored 4+ goals in 13 different Primeira Liga games since Bruno Lage took over in January 2019, more than any other team in that period. Unstoppable. pic.twitter.com/rjWBBQ1YCg
— OptaJoao (@OptaJoao) August 12, 2019
Benfica went 14-2-1 at home last season, and swept the season series with Porto (1-0 at home, 2-1 away).
By all accounts, Saturday’s hosts are the stronger of the two sides — though summer Porto signing Marchesin could prove to be an x-factor that at least keeps Conceicao’s visiting squad in the game.
FT Porto 4-0 Vitória Setúbal. Dragons bounce back from 2 shock defeats with comfortable win. Zé Luís with superb hat-trick, Luiz Dias got the other. Been a poor start for Porto but Zé Luís has looked a great signing, as has Marchesin who pulled off his now routine miraculos save.
— Tom Kundert (@PortuGoal1) August 17, 2019
Pick: Benfica (-112)
Maritimo vs. Tondela Odds
|Maritimo||-0.5 (+101)||+101||O 2.5 (+102)|
|Tondela||+0.5 (-121)||+270||U 2.5 (-122)|
One of Sunday’s more intriguing matchups pits hosts Maritimo (0-1-1) against Tondela (0-1-1) in a lower-half battle.
Playing on the island of Madeira is a challenge for any team, as Sunday’s hosts are significantly sharper in their beautifully-renovated home stadium than when they play away on the mainland; last year Maritimo went 8-2-7 at home, compared to 4-1-12 away.
Tondela, meanwhile, were 3-4-10 away from home during a 2018-19 season which only saw them escape the drop on the final day of the season.
Neither side has really excelled in either of its first two outings, though Maritimo’s credible 1-1 draw against Sporting showed the club can punch above its weight at home.
Note: Maritimo won this fixture 2-0 last season.
Pick: Maritimo (+101)
Vitoria Guimaraes vs. Famalicao Odds
|Vitoria Guimaraes||-0.5, -1 (-104)||-135||O 2.5 (-114)|
|Famalicao||+0.5, +1 (-116)||+390||U 2.5 (-106)|
Make no mistake: Guimaraes is the much larger and more talented club in this matchup, but Famalicao have impressed thus far in their return to the top division and could be ready to give Sunday’s hosts a rough a ride.
Guimaraes are mired in the middle of a European qualification slog — with the most recent trip a Thursday game in Romania, on the back of trips to Latvia and Luxembourg — while Famalicao has had the week to prepare.
— Vitória Sport Clube (@VitoriaSC1922) August 21, 2019
Joao Pedro Sousa’s Famalicao team has not conceded a goal in two games to begin the league, and sits (wait for it) tied for first with Benfica. While it’s unsustainable for a newly-promoted team to even remotely challenge for a title in Portugal, signs do point to this squad being a mid-table outfit and possibly challenging the likes of Guimaraes and Braga for European spots.
A play on the draw or taking a chance on the rested visitors, who might just keep overachieving, looks to offer the most value.
Pick: Draw (+230)
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