- Portugal’s Primeira Liga kicks off its 2020-21 campaign on Friday at 2:00 pm ET when title hopefuls Benfica visit a solid Famalicao side
- Nacional and Farense join the top flight this season after strong 2019-20 performances in the second-tier LigaPro; Desportivo Aves and Vitoria Setubal have both tumbled out of the professional ranks altogether following off-field management problems
- Get all the odds and best bets for Matchday 1 in Portugal’s top division below
After a shortened off-season, Portugal’s Primeira Liga is back with a full slate of Matchday 1 action this weekend.
Defending champion Porto will face a stiff test from a hungry Braga team on Saturday (4:00 pm ET); elsewhere, Sporting Lisbon’s opening match against Gil Vicente appears to be in jeopardy following 14 positive COVID-19 tests in the former’s camp.
The aforementioned Famalicao-Benfica tilt will get the season underway on Friday, while early relegation candidates Portimonense and Paços Ferreira will round out the matchday on Monday at 2:45 pm ET.
One other match to keep an eye on will be Tondela-Rio Ave, as the latter begins life without Carlos Carvalhal at the helm and the former aims to avoid the drop for a sixth-straight season.
Primeira Liga Matchday 1 Odds
All odds taken Sept 16 at DraftKings
Pick 1: Famalicao vs Benfica
Though some dropped points down the final stretch cost Famalicao a European place in their 2019-20 return to Portugal’s top division, Joao Pedro Sousa’s squad generally impressed en route to a 14-12-8 record and 6th-place finish.
While the departure of leading scorer Fabio Martins — returned to Braga at the end of his loan — will hurt Friday’s hosts, there is still some attacking punch and the likes of winger Lameiras will be expected to step up this season.
Emotions and egos are running high at Benfica, which appointed popular manager Jorge Jesus this summer in an effort to rinse the taste of last year’s horrific second half; a series of high-profile signings have made the early (and narrow) title favorite, but a 2-1 Champions League defeat to PAOK has left some room for doubt early in the season.
It’s early in the season and both squads will likely be precocious to start; the previous meeting between the two — at Famalicao back in July, post-COVID restart — ended 1-1, and the under could very well hit on Friday.
Pick: U 2.5 (+114)
Pick 2: Porto vs Braga
Continuity has been the name of the game for Sergio Conceicao and his Porto staff during the abbreviated off-season; with the addition of Mehdi Taremi from Rio Ave aside, Porto has focused on retaining its title-winning squad from last season and should at the very least be in the mix with Benfica again this year.
The core is still in place, with Alex Telles set to continue marauding from his flank defensive position, Jesus Corona a spark plug and the hulking presence of Moussa Marega upfront.
56 – Alex Telles has been directly involved in 56 goals in the Primeira Liga (19 goals, 37 assists) since he arrived to FC Porto in 2016-17; 24 goals more than any other defender in that span (Alejandro Grimaldo, 32). Weapon. pic.twitter.com/edtgpjkeze
— OptaJoao (@OptaJoao) September 10, 2020
Many neutral viewers will be keen to watch Braga, which landed the biggest fish in the coaching carousel pond this off-season in Carlos Carvalhal and appears set to build on a solid third-place finish in 2019-20.
Porto is a (very good) known quantity at this point? Yes.
Did Braga win both meetings last season between the two? Also yes.
If you feel like a risk on the opening weekend of Primeira Liga play, we recommend Braga — and think bettors should keep an eye on Carvalhal’s group early in the season.
Pick: Braga DNB (+310)
Pick 3: Tondela vs Rio Ave
Masters of the daring late-season relegation escape, Tondela have retained much of the core that took them to the lofty heights of a 14th-place finish, their best ever in Portugal’s top flight, and added former Braga man Salvador Agra on the wing.
The key pieces from last year’s survival run — Joao Jaquité in the midfield, speedy Colombian Jhon Murillo on Agra’s opposite wing, etc. — are still in place.
Rio Ave will be playing on very short rest following their Europa League qualifying match in Serbia on Thursday evening, and are something of an unknown quantity entering this season. Many of the vilacondenses‘ critical figures have moved on from last season, including the aforementioned Carvalhal to Braga, winger Nuno Santos (Sporting Lisbon) and leading scorer Mehdi Taremi (Porto).
Tondela was undefeated (1-1-0) against Rio Ave last year; favor them on Matchday 1 with Rio Ave on short rest.
Pick: Tondela DNB (+170)
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