The Primera Liga’s pick of the week sees third placed Sporting Lisbon travel to the Estadio Municipal de Braga to face second placed Braga on Monday night. Both sides have made equally great starts. Like table-topping Benfica, they have collected 10 points apiece from the first four games, and remain unbeaten. This match could really be the boost that either side needs to spark a title challenge A win for either side could also dent to the competitor’s hopes of Champions League qualification.
Braga started slowly last term and made a last gasp dash towards Champions League qualification. Without distraction from European football, they have made great strides this season, and are matching their title rivals blow-for-blow. Will the full week of match preparation give Braga the advantage or will Sporting pull off two great results within four days?
Braga – Sporting Lisbon
Braga have been in decent form since they were knocked out of the Europa League qualifying round. They have won three in a row, including away to a plucky Chaves side. Their impressive form is built on their solidity at home, which is carried over from last season. They only lost against Porto and Benefica, winning 14 of the remaining 15 games.
Sporting have been unplayable at home recently. Their 2-0 Europa League win over Qarabag on Thursday makes it three wins on the bounce. However, the visitors are a different side on their travels, and have struggled to put games to bed. Last season, they only managed 42% of their total points haul from their away games.
TIP – Home win
Sporting may be a little short on quality, having lost key personnel over the summer without adequately replacing them. Key man Bas Dost is also ruled out through injury. However, the Lions managed a draw when they travelled to Benfica last month. Sporting are also leaky on their travels, with 83% of all goals against them since last season having come in away games.
Braga have not lost to Sporting in four consecutive fixtures in all competitions. Their mean back line and impressive home record tip the balance for us. They have won 8 in 9 at home, and have not lost here in over eight months. Sporting are missing key personnel in attack, and vulnerable away from home. Braga will be fresher, and more difficult to beat. Braga should just about edge this in a fiercely contested game. 1-0.