Preview: Porto vs. Estoril Praia
Porto and Estoril Praia get round 24 of the Portuguese Primeira Liga underway when they go head to head at the Estadio do Dragao on Friday.
Having failed to win any of the most recent 11 meetings between the teams, the Canarinhos will head into the weekend desperate to get one over the hosts and end their four-game losing streak.
Porto returned to winning ways and ensured that they remain within touching distance with Benfica at the top of the Primeira Liga table as they edged out Chaves 3-1 victory at the Estadio Municipal Eng. Manuel Branco Teixeira last Thursday.
In a game where Jo Batista and Joao Mendes saw red, Danny Namaso and Otavio scored to hand the visitors a commanding two-goal first-half lead, and after Steven Vitoria pulled one back for the Flavienses in the 53rd minute, Spanish forward Toni Martinez made sure of the victory with a 96th-minute strike.
Prior to that, Porto fell to a 1-0 loss against Inter Milan in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash on February 22, before their run of six consecutive league victories came to an end courtesy of a shock 2-1 home defeat against Gil Vicente four days later.
With 54 points from 17 matches, Sergio Conceicao’s men are currently second in the Primeira Liga standings, six points adrift of league leaders Benfica and two above third-placed Braga just outside the automatic Champions League qualification places.
The Dragoes now return to the Estadio do Dragao, where they are unbeaten in 11 of their last 12 matches since the start of November — claiming 10 wins and one draw — with their loss to Gil Vicente on February 26 being the exception.
Estoril Praia, on the other hand, were left empty handed once again as they suffered a 3-0 thrashing at the hands of Vizela when the sides squared off at the Estadio Antonio Coimbra da Mota last Friday.
The Canarinhos’ defence were at sixes and sevens once again and Vizela took full advantage as an own goal from Joaozinho and strikes from Milutin Osmajic and Tomas Silva helped the victors to their first win in five matches.
Estoril Praia head into the weekend on a run of four consecutive defeats, scoring once while shipping 10 goals in that time, while they have picked up just three points from the last 24 available.
Ricardo Soares’s men, who secured an impressive ninth-placed finish last season, have picked up six wins, four draws and lost 13 of their 23 matches so far to collect 22 points and sit 15th in the Primeira Liga table, six points above 16th-placed Maritimo in the relegation playoff spot.
Estoril Praia’s underwhelming campaign has been owing to their struggles away from home, where they are currently on a six-game winning streak and are winless in nine consecutive matches, losing seven and claiming one draw since October’s 3-2 Taca de Portugal win over Amora FC.
While the Canarinhos will be looking to avoid a fifth consecutive defeat for the first time since January 2022, they now face the threat of a Porto side who are unbeaten in their last 11 encounters, claiming nine wins and two draws since a 1-0 loss in February 2014.
Porto Primeira Liga form:
Porto form (all competitions):
Estoril Praia Primeira Liga form:
We say: Porto 3-0 Estoril Praia
While Estoril Praia will be looking to stop the rot, they face the daunting task of taking on a Porto side who have been near impenetrable at the Estadio do Dragao in recent weeks. Given the gulf in class and quality between the two sides, we are backing Porto to run out winners on Friday and keep the morale high ahead of the Champions League last-16 return leg.