Preview: Boavista vs. Benfica 

Preview: Boavista vs. Benfica 

After kicking off the new season with success in the Supertaca, reigning champions Benfica begin the defence of their Liga Portugal crown on Monday, when they visit Boavista.

The teams convene at Estadio do Bessa with the Eagles aiming to build on last week’s win over Porto, while their hosts – who finished ninth last term – have already exited this year’s Taca da Liga.

Establishing themselves as early favourites to claim all four trophies available in Portugal, Benfica beat old rivals Porto 2-0 in Wednesday’s Super Cup clash at Estadio Municipal de Aveiro.

Returning hero Angel Di Maria put the Eagles ahead just after the hour mark, before substitute striker Petar Musa found the net seven minutes later to seal victory in a fiercely-fought contest featuring 12 yellow cards and one red.

Benfica had, of course, secured their place in the Supertaca as champions, having picked up a 38th league crown last season by pipping Porto to the line, but no club has managed to retain the title over the past six seasons.

Since Austrian coach Roger Schmidt arrived in Lisbon last year, success has quickly followed, as his attacking style of play brought a brilliant run of results – particularly during an unbeaten first half of the 2022-23 season.

Not only did Benfica reclaim the summit in domestic competition, they also beat Juventus and twice held Paris Saint-Germain en route to the Champions League quarter-finals, before bowing out to eventual runners-up Inter.

This summer, Di Maria has returned to the Portuguese capital from Juve, while Turkish midfielder Orkun Kokcu joined from Feyenoord. However, star striker Goncalo Ramos recently left for PSG, so the signing of Arthur Cabral from Fiorentina could prove crucial in continuing last term’s momentum.

Preview: Boavista vs. Benfica – prediction, team news, lineups

While Porto recorded four straight pre-season wins before losing to Feyenoord and Burnley at the end of last month, their opening-day hosts have endured a more sluggish start since returning to training ahead of the 2023-24 campaign.

In addition to friendly losses against Braga and Arouca – both without scoring a goal – Boavista crashed out of the Taca da Liga, beaten on penalties by second-tier UD Leiria after a disappointing 0-0 draw at Estadio do Bessa.

Ex-Benfica midfielder Petit led his side to an increasingly rare top-half finish last season, when they sat ninth in the final Primeira Liga standings, but now has the task of consolidating that feat over the coming months.

With Gambian striker Yusupha Njie – who has departed for Qatar on a free transfer – among those leaving this summer, Boavista must make do without their top scorer, though Robert Bozenik has made his move from Feyenoord permanent.

One of just two teams to have ever won the title outside Portugal’s ‘big three’ of Benfica, Sporting and Porto, Os Axadrezados are no longer in the running for such silverware. Nonetheless, after starting with five wins from their first seven matches last year they will be keen to make a similarly fast start this time around.

Boavista friendly form:

Benfica friendly form:

We say: Boavista 0-2 Benfica
Though they have been forced to make changes to a title-winning squad, Benfica still look strong enough to retain their status as Portugal’s top dogs this year and they should start their Liga campaign with a win. Boavista lack a major goal threat and surely cannot defy their visitors’ fearsome front line for a full 90 minutes.

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