Why Braga can end big three’s dominance with Primeira Liga title

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You know how it goes in Portugal. In the last 40 years, the title has only been one twice by a team outside of the ‘Big Three’ of Porto, Benfica and Sporting Lisbon. But that stat could be shattered this season, with S.C. Braga offering a serious title tilt.

Jose Peseiro’s men may be outsiders for the title at 66/1, but there’s no doubt Os Arcebispos can beat the Primeira Liga’s biggest names when they’re at their best.

Braga have beaten Porto in the last two meetings, including a memorable win to lift last season’s Taca de Portugal trophy. They reached that final by beating Sporting in the knockouts, while you only have to go back to late 2014 to find Braga’s last back-to-back victories over Benfica.

Indeed, despite its hugely scenic setting, the Estadio Municipal de Braga isn’t somewhere any away team want to go right now.

The Taca de Portugal holders are currently on a six-game home winning streak in all competitions, and became the first team to score six goals in this season’s Primeira Liga in Saturday’s 6-2 hammering of visitors Feirense.

Impressive as it is, that half-dozen goal haul isn’t a huge surprise from a team with the varied attacking threat that Peseiro’s side possess.

With the finishing of Wilson Eduardo and Pedro Santos boosted by the skills of lively super-sub Nikola Stojiljkovic and the experience of 37-year-old Alan – who boasts career goals against Liverpool and Manchester United – there’s no question they have all the attributes to damage any opposition.

However, it’s defensively where the Arcebispos have arguably shone most brightly.

In only two of their 11 league games this season have Braga conceded more than a single goal. By contrast, second-place Sporting have already suffered that fate three times since mid-September.

And with Peseiro at the helm, there’s every reason Braga’s progress will continue. Now in his second spell with the club, the 56-year-old knows exactly what makes his rivals tick, having previously managed Porto and Sporting Lisbon, as well as fellow top-tier outfit C.D. Nacional.

Having taken the Minho Province club to the UCL group stages and lifted the Taca de Liga during his previous year at the Braga helm – their first major honour in 47 years – he seems likely to continue the club’s upward trajectory.

And their title hopes will be boosted by sides around them slipping. Porto are winless in three in the league and without a goal in 420 minutes in all competitions with the domestic and European juggling act wearing them down.

Meanwhile, Vitoria de Guimaraes appear to have finally run out of steam following a good start to the campaign.

That should all give Braga plenty of confidence going into Saturday night’s game at Porto, with 7/1 for the Arcebispos to record a third successive triumph over Nuno Espirito Santo’s men.

Meanwhile, we recommend getting on that 66/1 for Braga to win their first ever Primeira Liga title before another run of fine results sees their title price tumble dramatically.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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Dave Burin

Dave graduated with an MA in English Literature at Durham University, and worked in marketing before joining the Ladbrokes News team. A Man United fan and avid groundhopper, he’s also an ardent follower of Rugby League. You can usually find him at a ground near you, clutching a big cup of tea.