There have been no major surprises in the Portuguese League Cup and the semi-finals are being contested by the top four teams in the Primeira League. Sporting Lisbon qualified for the last four by winning Group D. They won their first game against Maritimo but then lost 2-1 to Estoril before qualifying with a convincing 4-1 win over Feirense. Lisbon have only won two of their last four games and lost away at Tondela earlier this month. They have no wins in their last three games against Braga. This game is being played at Braga and Sporting haven't got the best of away records. Their oponents are unbeaten in their last six league and cup games since a 6-2 hammering by Benfica two days before Christmas. They are third in the Primeira League, two points ahead of Sporting Lisbon with only two league defeats this season with only the top two in the table beating them. Five of their last six games have ended in victory and they certainly qualified for this semi-final in style. Braga won all three of their group games despite going 1-0 down at home to Tondela in their opening game. They recovered to win 2-1, then won their next two group matches 5-0 and 4-0. They have home advantage here and in the league have won eight and drawn one of their nine games. Braga look to be in the better form and have a good record against their opponents so the tip is for them to win this semi-final.
One thing these two have in common is that they’re both better defensively on the road. Benfica have conceded 59% of their league goals so far at home, while 55% of Porto’s goals have been at the Dragao. They should set up with solid foundations for this clash in Braga, which further adds to our belief that this is going to be tight. Benfica have seen under 2.5 goals in 70% of their away league trips, while the same has landed in 67% of Porto’s away matches. That has picking out under 2.5 as my tip here, while I’m backing a 1-1 draw after 90 minutes.
The clash is being held on neutral ground in Braga, with the two giants aiming to boost their trophy cabinet. The Primeira Liga’s top two are desperate to edge this huge encounter, which has even more pressure given that it’s a semi-final. Benfica are sitting five points adrift of Porto, and they’re heading for their fourth straight game away from the Estadio da Luz. They’re looking to move on from Rui Vitoria, who left the club earlier this month. Jose Mourinho has been linked with a move to the Lisbon giants, but many seem to believe that the job is one of the recent offers he has turned down. Given that the club need to go through a bit of renewal and transition, the former Porto boss might not be the best pick given their current issues, The Eagles were dethroned by Porto at the top of the Primeira Liga last year. The Dragons have kept their great form from last season rolling, and they’re looking to turn that into more silverware. They’ve already lifted the title and the Super Cup in the last 12 months, while the recent signing of Pepe has strengthened a side who are looking good all over the pitch right now. They have each picked up 1-0 wins in the last two meetings, while all of the last five clashes between them have seen fewer than three goals scored. In fact, they’ve scored just six times between them in those five head to head clashes, so expect a close encounter when these two sides battle for a place in the final.
We're down to the semi-finals of the Portuguese League Cup as Benfica host Porto. This is a match between the top two teams in the Primeira League with leaders Porto being the visitors in this one-leg last four tie. Benfica won Group A of this tournament finishing two points clear of Aves. They have only lost one of their last 13 games in all competitions and won four in a row since losing away to Portimonense. This game takes place on Braga's home ground where the final will also be held on January 26. Porto lead the Primeira League by five points and are unbeaten in 21 league games since a defeat by Benfica in October. Of those 21 games, 19 have been won over 90 minutes with a draw against Sporting and an extra time victory in the Portuguese Cup. Nine of the last 11 games between these two sides have seen under 2.5 goals scored. That includes a goalless draw in the Portuguese League Cup five years ago that went to penalties. The tip here is for under 2.5 goals to be scored.
Tondela last 3 overall home games 11 goals scored and conceded, and scored 9 goals in the last 3 home games. Nacional last 3 overall away games 18 goals scored and conceded. Scored 8 goals in the last 3 away games.
Vitoria Setubal are having a modest season so far in the Portuguese top flight, they sit 11th in the league with 17 points from their 14 games however they are in poor form having lost their last 3 consecutive league fixtures, 1-0 at home to Benfica, 3-1 away to Portimonense and 2-0 at home to Santa Clara. Sporting Braga are also having a modest season by their standards as they currently sit 4th in the league with 30 points from their opening 14 games. They had gone on a 3 match winning streak thanks to victories against Moreirense, Feirense and Tondela all without their opponents scoring however they were brought back to earth on Sunday as they were heavily beaten 6-2 away at Benfica. Vitoria Setubal’s games in this competition tend to go a bit goal crazy, particularly in respect to their general league scoring form. Setubal games have seen 2.29 goals per game this season in the league however their last 10 Taca de Liga have seen 30 goals, averaging 3.00 per game. This is also a competition where Sporting Braga normally find their scoring boots, netting in 11 of their last 12 away games in the competition. They have seen 29 goals in their last 10 games in the competition, an average of 2.9 per game.