Braga vs Rio Ave Prediction, Preview, Lineups & Betting Tips
Sporting Braga and Rio Ave are the two sides that will kick-off round 17 of the Primeira Liga when their encounter is set to take place at the “Estádio Municipal de Braga” on Saturday night, 6 January 2018. Their clash will wrap up the first half of the 2017-18 season for both teams located in northern Portugal, who are also neighbours in current Primeira Liga standings. Hosts from Braga are fourth with 34 points won out of 16 games, while visitors from Vila do Conde are fifth, having seven points less.
Rio Ave head to Braga with three consecutive victories over The Archbishops, including a 2-1 away win in December 2016. The win in Braga has been followed by two home wins of Rio Ave and the most recent one was on 18 November, when Helder Guedes has scored the only goal to eliminate Braga from the Portuguese Cup.
Primeira Liga: Braga vs Rio Ave 06.01.2018
Braga will chase their first win over “Rio Grande” since almost two years – a narrow (1-0) success from February 2016, which has been followed by two draws and three victories for Rio Ave.
This time Braga have the home advantage on their side and Abel Ferreira’s men are back home after a midweek 3-1 victory against Boavista in Porto. This was their fourth success in the last five Primeira Liga rounds, placing The Archbishops on three points behind Benfica and on six from second-placed Sporting CP. However, from this season only two Portuguese teams will earn a Champions League spot and this makes Braga’s ordinary dream even more tricky to accomplish, forming a fierce competition between “The Big Three” and Braga as the most established side besides them.
Rio Ave are coming after a home win over Paços de Ferreira on Wednesday night when they have managed to keep their 3-2 lead, despite playing with 10 men for more than 20 minutes, and even extended their lead to 4-2 with a late goal of Rúben Ribeiro. Thus Rio Ave shares the same number of points alongside Marítimo (6th), but sits higher due to the better goal difference they hold: +7 against +2.
Team News and Missing Players
Hosts are the side with more injuries or suspensions ahead the Saturday clash. Two weeks before club’s anniversary, Braga’s coach Abel Ferreira can’t rely on the injured midfielders Mauro and Fransergio, but these injury concerns have been increased in the midweek when central defender Ricardo Ferreira picked up a ligament injury in the right knee. This requires surgical intervention which will sideline the Portuguese international from any activity until the end of the current season. That’s a huge blow and situation is even worse considering fact that his replacement in the last game, Raúl Silva, has been booked twice and will miss out due to suspension. In addition to suspended Silva, Abel Ferreira must choose a replacement of his regular right winger Ricardo Esgaio who is also suspended – yellow card accumulation. However, there are some good news and they are that Serb defender Lazar Rosic has already returned and should be fully fit to form the centre-back duo with Bruno Viana.
Meanwhile, Paulinho, who scored the second goal against Boavista, can lead Braga’s attack at the expense of Ahmed Hassan who disappointed in that game.
Rio Ave FC
Miguel Cardoso is expected to make one rotation only and that’s because left-back Yuri Ribeiro is suspended. Ribeiro was sent off on Wednesday and Bruno Teles is expected to replace him at the left-back. Central defender Marcelo, who has been substituted in the second-half, should return in the squad but if he’s not fit Marcão will most likely deputize as a centre-back partner of Nélson Monte.
The 37-years-old goalkeeper Cássio missed the midweek round and if he is not available on Saturday, Rui Vieira is set to replace him once more.
Braga vs Rio Ave Prediction and Betting Tips
Braga have won their last 6 home matches in the league, scoring three or more goals in four occasions. They are favourites of the bookies and their strong home form is the main reason behind these odds. Nevertheless, we are more tempted by the currently offered odds on “Both teams to score“. We believe that Rio Ave will feel comfortable playing the role of an underdog in Braga and they can surely hit on counter-attacks, especially when hosts have some important absentees in defense.
So our betting prediction recommends: “Both teams to score – Yes“.
Possible Lineups of Braga and Rio Ave
Venue: “Estádio Municipal de Braga”, Braga.
Referee: Vasco Santos.
SC Braga: Matheus – Jefferson, Lazar Rosic, Bruno Viana, Marcelo Goiano – Nikola Vukcevic, Danilo – João Teixeira, Andre Horta, Ricardo Horta – Paulinho. (4-2-3-1)
Rio Ave FC: Rui Vieira – Bruno Teles, Marcelo, Nelson Monte, Lionn – Pele, Tarantini – Ruben Ribeiro, Chico Geraldes, João Novais – Helder Guedes. (4-2-3-1)