1 - 2
Jan 26, 201315:15 Live
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Stadium: Estádio AXA (Braga)
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For a few years now, Sp. Braga has earned itself a respectable reputation in the Portuguese League considering their positive results as of late. The Minhotos have slowly been able to put together a great group of players who give them an opportunity of challenging for the title year in and year out.
Challenging for a title does not always guarantee you the chance of winning silverware, but regardless, Braga is on the right path to success.
This campaign, they are third with 29 points, 10 points behind Benfica and Porto. Saturdays match will give them an opportunity to cut that lead down to seven, if they are able to defeat the Lisbon side at home for the fourth time in their last five meetings at the Estadio Axa.
Benfica has not enjoyed a victory against Braga at the Estadio Axa since they won 1-3 in the 2008/09 season. Goals from Angel Di Maria, Urreta and Oscar Cardozo gave Benfica the victory which guaranteed them third place in the league standings.
Since then, Braga has enjoyed most, or almost all of the success against Benfica. The Aguias previous four meetings at the Estadio Axa have ended in defeat three times, with both sides playing to a one goal draw last season.
The hosts have enjoyed success in their stadium as they have six victories, lost one and drew one. Their only defeat came at the hands of Porto as they defeated Braga 0-2.
With a plus 12 goal difference, Braga will expect to at least grab one goal against Benfica, but the visitors superb away form could cause problems for Braga.
Benfica has yet to lose this season and they have managed seven victories and one draw away from the Estadio da Luz. Their only draw came at the Estadio Cidade de Coimbra as both teams played to a 2-2 draw.
Jorge Jesus' side has the league's best offense to this point in the campaign with 39 goals scored.
Away from home, Benfica has only conceded five goals, which will not make life easy for the Guerreiros. While they may play an offensive style of football, Braga will need to make sure they take their chances against a Benfica side that generally does not concede very often.
08-18-12 Benfica 2-2 Braga
03-31-12 Benfica 2-1 Braga
11-06-11 Braga 1-1 Benfica
05-05-11 Braga 1-0 Benfica (Europa League)
04-28-11 Benfica 2-1 Braga (Europa League)
03-06-11 Braga 2-1 Benfica
Both sides have met in Braga on 64 occasions, but the hosts have only managed to win 15 times. While that may not be a great stat to go by, Braga can turn to their latest results against Benfica to gain some confidence.
Whether it is home or away, both these teams have started to build a rivalry of sorts over the years. That means that the environment in the stadium for a match of this caliber is nearly as electric as a Classico between Porto and Benfica.
Braga does not want to see Benfica distance themselves, nor does Benfica want to lose ground to Porto who is even on points with them.
From fans throwing lighters onto the pitch at opposing players, to golf balls, this match is one you will not want to miss.
Hard tackles, great football and controversy has been the name of the game when both these sides meet. This time around, it will not be any different.
The hosts manage to feed off of their crowd very well in these games, which has proven to be difficult to contain for Benfica as of late. Not letting their emotions get to them will be important for both sides.
Benfica's great form in the campaign thus far should give them the slight advantage going in to Saturdays match. Along with their good form, they clearly have the better options when it comes to choosing their squad.
We all know that names on a roster sheet do not win games, so Benfica will have to prove themselves on the pitch.
Playing at a high tempo is a given for both these sides, but Benfica will need to make sure they do not play into Braga's trap and leave themselves exposed at the back. At times they tend to shut off mentally, only to have Brazilian goalkeeper Artur Morais bail them out more often than not.
If Braga can grab the first goal of the match, we could be in for yet another epic meeting between these two sides.
Given Benfica's previous track record at the Estadio Axa, an early goal for the visitors would really help calm some nerves, allowing them to settle into the match with more ease.
Braga 1-2 Benfica