Benfica battle wounded Dragons and can do double to punish Porto
The Stadium of Light, in Lisbon not Sunderland, hosts an O Classico encounter live on ESPN that could effectively ensure Benfica retain their Portuguese Primeira Liga title against Porto.
Jorge Jesus’ Eagles, 13/10 favourites with Coral for victory, have beaten the Dragons 2-0 (11/1 for that result) in two of their last three meetings, so look a tempting bet, not least because the Oporto outfit were humbled by Bayern Munich in their previous outings.
Leading a Champions League quarter-final 3-1 after the first leg, Porto were pulverized when brought back to Bayern’s Allianz Arena, who hit them for six to advance 7-4 on aggregate.
There is a lot to like about Julen Lopetegui’s team despite their defeat, and the Dragons are 2/1 chances to respond to that Munich mauling by moving level on points with Benfica with a win.
Draws (12/5 here) are unusual in this fixture between two of Portugal’s three most famous football clubs, but when they do occur the result is often 2-2, which is a 16/1 shot.
Punters shall see the top Primeira Liga defences in action here, and Porto clearly missed their suspended Brazilian full back duo of the departing Danilo and Alex Sandro as their European adventure ended.
There are, however, some in-form forwards to watch and pile money on too. Colombia and Dragons danger man Jackson Martinez, consistently linked with Arsenal, has netted in both of his two starts since returning from injury, and is the league’s leading marksman on 17.
Visitors Porto need him to add to his seasonal tally of 28 across all competitions. Anytime odds of 19/10 are firmed up by Martinez’s personal record of three in eight against the Eagles, while for two goals or more he is a 7/1 shot.
Portugal winger Ricardo Quaresma, meanwhile, has revived his career since returning to the Dragons for a second spell, and is also enjoying a purple patch of five in his last four. He is 5/2 to add to keep that run going, and has a winning goal in this stadium on his CV.
For Benfica, it’s all about the Brazilians up front. Like Quaresma, fellow 31-year-old Jonas has turned himself around after being discarded by Valencia.
Striking a sweet 16 times in the league (and 26 across all competitions), Jonas has bagged brace in each of his last three Eagles appearances. He holds anytime odds of 13/8 here, and is 6/1 for two or more again.
Jonas’ strike partner Rodrigo Lima was the difference when Benfica beat Porto in the reverse fixture. While he is the same price for another brace or better, his anytime price is slightly better at 17/10.
Last and by no means least is the Eagles’ young pretender Anderson Talisca, used in recent matches by coach Jesus as as impact sub, playing deeper or on the wing.
When given license to operate further forward, the 21-year-old was a real revelation and could yet sneak into Brazil’s Copa America squad. Talisca is a tasty 11/5 anytime scorer chance, and it would be brilliant to see Benfica be bold and use him behind his compatriots in the hole which looks his best position.