Last weekend’s action threw up very few surprises in the Primeira Liga, the biggest of which was Farense’s 5-0 humiliation of Chaves who were 4-0 down inside 25 minutes, and did little to improve the situation in the second half.
After Jornada 4 we head into the first international break of the season, so teams will be striving to either keep up their positive momentum or looking forward to an opportunity to refresh and work with the players on the training ground where improvement is needed.
Braga v Sporting tops the bill
Jornada 4 offers up the tastiest game of the season so far, and a clássico of sorts, as Braga host Sporting in the first game of the season involving two of the top four sides in Portugal.
Sporting have had a flawless start to the season, winning 4 games from 4, and have a squad seemingly in a very good place. New signings Gyökeres and Hjulmand look to have settled in very well, whilst 18-year-old right-back Iván Fresneda arrives this week amongst much fanfare. Combine this with promising signs from young players such as Diomande and Inácio, as well as a number of reliable players from seasons past in the form of Pedro Gonçalves, Paulinho, Morita, Nuno Santos, and others, and Sporting will have every reason to feel confident ahead of not only this game, but the season overall.
Braga themselves however will be brimming with self-belief off the back of a successful Champions League qualification campaign which saw them secure their place on the biggest stage in club football for only the third time in their history with a 1-0 win away in Athens against Greek side Panathinaikos.
Braga lost their opening game of the season, and had last weekend’s fixture postponed in order to focus on that UCL qualifier, meaning they currently only have three points in the Primeira Liga this season, but don’t let that fool you. This is a side that have made a number of quality signings this season and will fancy themselves against any team in Portugal this season, including Sporting.
Can Porto finally click v Arouca?
Porto have won every game this season 2-1, including twice coming from behind in order to win, and twice relying on stoppage time goals to get a result. They play an Arouca side who are unbeaten in their first three league games this season, but suffered the heartbreak of being knocked out of the Europa Conference League qualifiers a couple of weeks ago, and required a late equaliser to avoid defeat against a weak Portimonense side at the weekend.
On paper Porto should be favourites for this game, but they have made a meal of their opening games of the season, and in Arouca they won’t find a team ready to roll over and allow them an easy win.
Benfica host top-of-the-table Vitória
Benfica are at home against table toppers Vitória who have 3 wins from 3, and have only conceded one goal in the process. Benfica in comparison have conceded 5 goals in 3 games, and despite two consecutive wins the Eagles are not without off-field issues.
Coach Roger Schmidt has come under fire by some of the fanbase for his handling of the impending departure of long-serving goalkeeper Odysseus Vlachodimos, as well as tinkering with his side which has not always worked out and has raised question marks.
Hosting Vitória is bound to be their toughest test of the season so far, but with an undeniable superiority in the lineups, anything other than a win will go down very unfavourably with a somewhat agitated fanbase.
Chaves coach José Gomes under pressure
Outside of the league’s traditional big teams it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on GD Chaves vs Moreirense on Sunday afternoon. Chaves had been unlucky in their first two games, red cards in both meaning they couldn’t show us their full potential, but losing 5-0 to Farense with 11 players on the pitch was a hugely worrying sign.
The Transmontanos are at home to Moreirense who will be desperate for their first win of the season after promising performances against Porto and Famalicão only amounted to one point, and their game against Braga scheduled for last weekend was postponed. The visitors will be eager to build some momentum which has been a little stunted in this early stage of the season.
Estoril v Boavista look to build on positive start
Finally a word on Estoril vs Boavista, a game between two very interesting teams in the opening part of the season. Boavista followed up their upset against Benfica with a dominant 4-1 win over Portimonense, and a commendable 1-1 draw against a very competent Casa Pia team.
Estoril put in good performances against Arouca and Rio Ave, but fell to defeat against Estrela da Amadora last weekend. Boavista look very strong despite not making any new signings, building a team around existing talented players such as Pedro Malheiro, Chidozie Awaziem, Bruno Onyemaechi, Gaius Makouta, Miguel Reisinho, Tiago Morais, Róbert Boženík, and others, whilst Estoril have found a gem in youngster João Marques. Two teams more than worthy of your attention this weekend.
Five players to keep an eye on this weekend
Clayton (Casa Pia): Last season Clayton scored 4 goals in 29 games, this season the 24-year-old Brazilian striker has already scored 3 goals in 3 games. A strong, imposing striker, he’s made himself the focal point of Casa Pia’s attack and will look to continue his run of scoring in every game this season against Rio Ave on Saturday.
André Silva (Vitória): Another Brazilian striker making a mark on the league, Andre Silva has always had talent, but not always shown it for Vitória. One goal and two assists in his last two games show what he can offer to his team, but he’ll want to add more goals in the coming games to prove he can be the man to lead the line for Vitória.
Kobamelo Kodisang (Moreirense): The 24-year-old South African winger registered 11 goals and 5 assists in the Segunda Liga last season, and whilst he’s yet to get off the mark this season he looks like a bright spark in the Moreirense attack. They’ve been threatening to get a win all season, and if they’re to do so against Famalicão at the weekend then Kodisang is sure to be an important part of that.
Fran Navarro (Porto): There’s a shadow hanging over Mehdi Taremi at Porto after the striker appeared set on departing for Milan, only for talismanic Iranian’s transfer to fall through. One man ready to make the best of it could be Fran Navarro. The striker was signed by Porto for €9m from Gil Vicente in the summer, but is yet to start a game with Taremi picked in the starting XI ahead of him. If he starts against Arouca he will be desperate to make his mark.
Paulinho (Sporting): Often derided, the man described by Ruben Amorim as Portugal’s best striker is enjoying a fine start to the season with 4 goals in 3 games. Rather than being threatened by the arrival of another striker in the form of Viktor Gyökeres, Paulinho has thrived in a strike partnership that allows him more freedom than playing as a lone striker. Can he keep up his goalscoring form?
by Albert Carter-Phillips (@LongBallFutebol)