The Big Braga-Benfica Bunfight Weekend Preview
Round 9 of the Portuguese League is about to start and looking at the battles that will take place over the country, it will provide some interesting insights.
Are Braga genuine title contenders? Do Benfica have what it takes to win against tougher opponents? Can Paulo Bento last forever? Will Porto be the ones laughing in the end?
Those are some of the questions that will begin to be answered this weekend. The Portugeezer will now offer his predictions.
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Braga vs Benfica
Table-topping Benfica are about to enter a cycle of more difficult matches, starting on Saturday against the impressive SC Braga.
The game has all the ingredients to be an instant classic: a rivalry between both coaches, two teams trying to remain atop the league and a packed stadium that will ensure a great atmosphere.
Even though both teams play in red and white, their contrasting styles will be another point of interest.
The Eagles boast the best attack in the league with a whopping 30-goal tally, while Braga possess the best defence with only four goals conceded.
Is defence the best form of attack or is attack the best form of defence? WeÃ¢ÂÂre about to find that out!
There are no major worries in terms of injuries or suspensions in both teams, though Pablo Aimar is lucky to be eligible for this match.
The Argentinian fantasista dived against Nacional, earning the penalty which resulted in BenficaÃ¢ÂÂs third goal.
ItÃ¢ÂÂs a fact that a 6-1 trashing somewhat smoothed the talking, but let's hope for a fair game on Saturday where the sole protagonists are the players.
Prediction: 1-1 Ã¢ÂÂ BenficaÃ¢ÂÂs relentless march halted by Braga's mean defence
Porto vs Belenenses
Porto are at home for the second week in a row, this time welcoming Belenenses, a team that has been anything but impressive this season.
The Dragons struggled to beat AcadÃÂ©mica last weekend, but they have too many weapons in their arsenal for Belenenses to handle.
After receiving his first call-up for the Brazilian national team, HulkÃ¢ÂÂs morale will reach an all-time high and the forward will give a hard time to the opposition.
Prediction: 3-0 Ã¢ÂÂ No contest as Porto get a comfortable win
Sporting vs MarÃÂtimo
Sporting were unlucky not to get the three points against VitÃÂ³ria GuimarÃÂ£es and Paulo Bento's position seems to be under threat again.
President Eduardo Bettencourt may gain some enemies among the LionsÃ¢ÂÂ faithful by sticking with the manager, but I actually think heÃ¢ÂÂs making the right decision.
It's sad to think Bento "celebrated" four years as Sporting manager last week but still remains an ugly duckling figure.
Yes, they're already trailing Braga and Benfica by 10 points, but the last thing the club needs is another revolution.
As for Bento himself, heÃ¢ÂÂs a bit like Terminator: he may get shot a couple of times, but heÃ¢ÂÂll always be back with the same style and demeanor.
Prediction: 2-1 cÃ¢ÂÂ MarÃÂtimo are always a tough team to beat, but like other times in the past, Sporting will grab a win and Bento will be thankful for yet another balloon of oxygen
Naval vs LeixÃÂµes
Eighth-placed LeixÃÂµes travel to 11th-placed Naval and judging from their past performances, there wonÃ¢ÂÂt be a lot of goals in this match.
LeixÃÂµes are yet to earn a single point away and they will continue that way.
Prediction: Home win
Olhanense vs Rio Ave
The Algarvian sideÃ¢ÂÂs bright start quickly faded away and they will now host Rio Ave, who currently sit in sixth.
Rio Ave have already claimed four draws; why change now?
Prediction: Bore draw
Nacional vs SetÃÂºbal
NacionalÃ¢ÂÂs season has been hampered by their Europa League run.
The Islanders donÃ¢ÂÂt have the strength in depth to cope with both competitions and that is one of the reasons for their stuttering start of the season.
Still, considering they play at home and SetÃÂºbal has the worst defence in the league, I would be very surprised if they donÃ¢ÂÂt win the game.
Prediction: Home win
AcadÃÂ©mica vs GuimarÃÂ£es
From eight games so far, AcadÃÂ©mica have claimed three points.
Though they played well against FC Porto, the Portugueezer doubts they'll double the tally this weekend.
Prediction: A draw
PaÃÂ§os de Ferreira vs UniÃÂ£o Leiria
Unlike previous seasons, PaÃÂ§os de FerreiraÃ¢ÂÂs home form has been poor and they have yet to win a game in front of their supporters.
UniÃÂ£o Leiria have had an encouraging start to the season and star striker CarlÃÂ£o may just be the man to give them another three points.
Prediction: A surprising away win
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