zenduck.me: Preview Braga vs Benfica prediction team news lineups

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Sports Mole previews Thursday’s Taca de Portugal clash between Braga and Benfica, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Braga and Benfica lock horns at the Estadio Municipal de Braga for a quarter-final showdown in the Taca de Portugal on Thursday night.

The winners of this contest will be rewarded with a semi-final home tie against either Casa Pia or second-tier side Nacional towards the end of April.

Match preview

© Reuters

After beginning the month of February with a humbling 5-0 away defeat against Sporting Lisbon – their second five-goal drubbing of the season against the Lions – Braga bounced back in emphatic fashion with a 4-1 Primeira Liga victory on home soil against Famalicao on Sunday.

The Archbishops were made to work for the three points as they were level at 1-1 with the mid-table side heading into the final 11 minutes, but quickfire strikes from Simon Banza and Bruma (2) ultimately settled the contest.

Artur Jorge‘s side remain on course for just their second top-three finish in 11 years as they currently sit third in the table and five points clear of Sporting in fourth, while they are only two points behind second-placed Porto in the automatic Champions League qualification positions.

While the Primeira Liga and the Europa Conference League knockout rounds will be high on the agenda in the coming weeks, Braga now turn their attention to the Taca de Portugal, a competition that they have won just three times in their 102-year history.

Their most recent success came in 2021 when they beat Benfica 2-0 in the final courtesy of late strikes either side of half time from Lucas Piazon and Ricardo Horta.

Braga, who have beaten Felgueiras 1932, Moreirense and Vitoria de Guimaraes to reach this year’s quarter-final stage, will be confident of success against Benfica on Thursday as they have won three of their last four meetings with the Eagles in all competitions.

© Reuters

Indeed, one of those victories for Braga was a 3-0 home success over Benfica on December 30, but the Eagles have since made a bright start to 2023, winning six and drawing one of their seven matches across all tournaments.

Roger Schmidt‘s men secured a routine 3-0 league win at home against Casa Pia, keeping their fourth successive clean sheet in the process, and they still hold an eight-point lead at the Primeira Liga summit, albeit having played a game more than their nearest challengers.

Benfica are in the driving seat to end their three-year drought without a league title, while they have also impressed in the Champions League so far this season, topping their group ahead of Paris Saint-Germain, and a favourable-looking two-legged tie against Club Brugge awaits over the next month.

Schmidt and co are now focused fully on their quest to reach the semi-finals of the Taca de Portugal as they bid to go all the way and lift the trophy for a record-extending 27th time.

The Eagles have fallen short over the last five years in the competition, however, finishing as runners-up in 2019-20 and 2020-21 before being knocked out by Porto in the fifth round last season.

Benfica have navigated their way past Caldas, Estoril and Varzim to reach the quarter-finals this term, but Thursday’s encounter is set to be their toughest test yet as they have only won two of their last eight competitive meetings against Braga.

Braga Taca de Portugal form:

Braga form (all competitions):

Benfica Taca de Portugal form:

Benfica form (all competitions):

Team News

© Reuters

Braga youngster Jean-Baptiste Gorby has been struggling with a muscle injury since December and remains sidelined, but centre-back Sikou Niakate is available to return after serving a one-match suspension last weekend.

Niakite is likely to be recalled to the starting lineup at the expense of Paulo Oliveira, joining Victor Gomez, Vitor Tormena and Nuno Sequeira in the back four.

Top scorer Ricardo Horta, who scored two of his eight goals against Benfica earlier this season, is fit to feature after missing the last three games with a muscle problem and he could be handed a start on the left flank.

As for Benfica, Goncalo Ramos is nursing a muscle injury and is expected to miss out on Thursday, with Wolverhampton Wanderers loanee Goncalo Guedes set to continue as the central striker.

Rafa Silva recovered from his own muscle issue to feature off the bench last time out, and the playmaker will be hoping to force his way back into the first XI ahead of either David Neres or Fredrik Aursnes.

Chiquinho could be the man to form a partnership with Florentino Luis in centre-midfield following the deadline-day departure of Enzo Fernandez, while 34-year-old Nicolas Otamendi and 19-year-old Andre Silva are set to retain their places at centre-back.

Braga possible starting lineup:
Matheus; Gomez, Niakite, Tormena, Sequeira; Medeiros, Al-Musrati, A. Horta, R. Horta; Ruiz, Banza

Benfica possible starting lineup:
Vlachodimos; Bah, Silva, Otamendi, Grimaldo; Luis, Chiquinho; Mario, Rafa, Aursnes; Guedes

We say: Braga 2-1 Benfica (after extra time)

A closely-fought contest between two top teams in Portugal is set to take place on Wednesday, one that could even go beyond the 90 minutes.

Braga have has the better of this fixture in recent seasons, winning four of their last five home meetings with Benfica, and although the Eagles will fancy their chances, the hosts may do just enough to edge through to the semi-finals.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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