Benfica v Porto: Back hosts to land crucial home win over rivals but it will be tight

Bruno Lage
Benfica are playing some of their best football in years under Bruno Lage.

It's an early season Clasico in Portugal as Benfica host Porto on Saturday night and Jamie Pacheco is backing the home side to - eventually - break down their big rivals...

"The stats are heavily stacked in favour of a low-scoring match. Benfica are unlikely to score freely against Porto like they do against other teams in the league, nor do they need to. A win of any sort here would be worth its weight in gold. Combining the two theories, we’re happy to take the 16/5 on Benfica winning with under 2.5 goals in the game."

Benfica v Porto
Saturday August 24, 18:00
Live on Free Sports (Sky channel 422)

Benfica picking up where they left off

Benfica have had an excellent habit in recent years of selling some of their best players on at huge profit and watching the new ones hitting the ground running.

This summer it was only the much-talked about Joao Felix who left from among those who were guaranteed starters last year. Not that you need to sell many players when one of them has just gone for £113m (to Atletico Madrid).

The man tasked with replacing Felix is Raul de Tomas Gomez, purchased a few years ago by Real Madrid who went on to score a load of goals while on loan at Valladolid and Rayo Vallecano.

He's yet to score in two league starts but Benfica won't be too fussed about that given they won those games 5-0 and 2-0.

Poor start to Porto's campaign

It's been a disastrous start to the season for Porto so far. An opening day loss away at Gil Vicente in the league was bad enough, but worse was to come. They beat Krasnodar 1-0 away but lost the return leg 2-3 at home and went out of the Champions League qualifiers on away goals.

In the Portuguese league, any point lost among the Big Three is a story in itself and given how Benfica are playing, Porto may have to wait a few weeks to get back on level pegging with their rivals. They may never get back on parity at all. That's why this match is already incredibly important.

Porto have been playing with fire as regards their transfer policy. It's all well and good selling your best players for huge sums- Eder Militao (Real Madrid) and Felipe (Atletico Madrid) being just two examples, but you can't let the overall quality of your squad suffer without expecting a change in fortunes.

This could end up being a frustrating season for Sergio Conceicao and Porto.

Benfica short, but for a reason

History suggests the evens about Benfica looks a bit short on the Exchange. They did admittedly win this fixture 1-0 last season but had failed to win against their northern rivals at home in each of their four previous attempts.

Having said that, these are very different circumstances. Benfica's starting XI is largely unchanged from last season, they've started the season brilliantly (they also beat Sporting easily in the Portuguese Super Cup) so have momentum and confidence on their side.

Benfica celebrating 1280.jpg

In other words, this is about as strong a Benfica side as we've seen in recent years, excellently marshalled by Bruno Lage, against a Porto side that's far from being a vintage one.

Goals could be at a premium

Only once in the last six matches at the Estadio da Luz between these two have there been over 2.5 goals, a 2-1 home loss back in February 2016.

These really do tend to be the tight, cagey affairs you'd expect from such an important fixture with the stats showing it's a similar story when this game is played in Porto.

Benfica are yet to concede in three games this season so that's another reason to think that under 2.5 goals isn't badly priced at 8/11.

Low-scoring home win the likely outcome

It's an obvious bet but there's nothing wrong with that.

Benfica look too strong for Porto given what we've seen so far and we think they'll win.

The stats are heavily stacked in favour of a low-scoring match. Benfica are unlikely to score freely against Porto like they do against other teams in the league, nor do they need to. A win of any sort here would be worth its weight in gold.

Combining the two theories, we're happy to take 16/5 on Benfica winning with under 2.5 goals in the game.

Benfica to strike first but not too early

This fixture tends to be a bit of slow burner. Only in three of the last 10 games between these two in the league has there been a goal before the 30th minute.

Given that stat and the fact we think Benfica will get it, we quite like the 9/4 about Benfica to score the first goal of the game after the 29th minute.

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