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Benfica and Porto Strong Favorites to Win 2020 Portugal Primeira Liga Title

Carlos Verde

by Carlos Verde in Soccer News

Updated Apr 8, 2020 · 7:26 PM PDT

Benfica are favorites
Benfica are the -105 favorites to win the Portugal Primeira Liga title. Photo from @ChampionsLeague (Twitter).
  • Reigning champions Benfica open as favorites (-105) to lift the Liga NOS trophy
  • The Eagles have won Portugal’s domestic top flight five of the past six seasons
  • Porto (+115) the only legitimate challenger for Benfica in 2019-20

The 2019-20 Portugal Primeira Liga season kicks off this week. The action begins on Friday with Portimonense hosting Belenenses at 3:30 pm EST.

We’re previewing the futures market for the upcoming season to decide which of the contenders is the best bet to win the title at season’s end.

Primeira Liga Odds 2019-20

Team Odds
Benfica -105
Porto +115
Sporting CP +800
Sporting Braga +3000
Boavista +10000
Rio Ave +10000
Vitoria Guimaraes +10000
Moreirense +15000
Belenenses +20000
Maritimo +20000

*Odds taken August 6, 2019. 

The Favorite: Benfica

Bruno Lage’s Benfica will look somewhat different from the side that won 18 of its final 19 league matches to lift the Liga NOS trophy last season, but certainly still has talent.

Gone are wonderkid Joao Felix — sold to Atletico Madrid for a stunning $126 million euros — and retired club icon Jonas. In are Spanish striker Raul de Tomas (RdT) from Real Madrid and crafty midfielder Chiquinho (Moreirense).

Make no mistake, Benfica have been the steadiest of the big three over the past half-decade, and their run of form in the second half of last season (18W-1D-0L) was historic.

They had a solid summer despite the departure of the talismanic young Felix, with a glittering $20 million signing — very large by Portuguese standards — for RdT and the addition of both starting quality and depth from smaller clubs in Portugal.

The Challenger: Porto

There is even more turnover than usual at Porto, where manager Sergio Conceicao sold or released over half his XI from last season in favor of cheaper South American talent.

Gone are pillars Hector Herrera (Atletico), Yacine Brahimi (Qatar), Oliver Torres (Sevilla) and, of course, the $50 million sale of Eder Militao to Real Madrid.

Joining the Porto squad are names unfamiliar to European soccer fans: Colombians Luis Diaz and Mateus Uribe, and Argentines Renzo Saravia and likely new No. 1 Agustin Marchesin.

One to keep an eye on is Shoya Nakajima, the 24-year-old Japanese forward who returns to Portugal after a brief stint in Qatar. Nakajaima was nothing short of electric for Portimonense early last season, and could thrive in a bigger club environment.

Out of It: Sporting C.P. (+800)

While Marcel Keizer’s maiden voyage at the helm of the clear No. 3 amongst Portugal’s big three culminated in a pair of domestic trophies, there is a sense that Sporting are still a fair distance off the top two.

Beating Porto on penalties in both the domestic and league cup finals gave Sporting two much-needed trophies. However, the club was hammered 5-0 by Benfica in the season-opener Supertaça — essentially the league winner vs. cup winner shield — on Sunday.

With the departure of talismanic midfielder Bruno Fernandes all but confirmed, Sporting will have to find offensive inspiration from somewhere other than its No. 8.

Subtracting Fernandes means subtracting most of Sporting’s attack, making it extremely unlikely the Lions can close the 13-point gap from last season.

The Pick

Take Benfica, because a large portion of their creative force is still in the squad and the addition of de Tomas gives them a bona fide finisher. Porto simply lost too much of its proverbial engine — players like Brahimi, Herrera, and Torres — to compete early on in 2019-20.

Bonus Tip

While the big three having not been dislodged since a wild 2011-12 campaign which saw Estoril — now of the second division — finish third, there are two quality sides with the continuity to be good plays early in 2019-20.

Braga and Guimaraes — last year’s fourth- and fifth-placed teams — are still in a league of their own in terms of financial means and fans compared to everybody below them in Portugal. While not capable of challenging the big three, there is some safe value here. Take Braga at home when favored, as they won 13 of 17 last season and only lost once to a non-big three team.

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