Rio Ave VS Braga Prediction
Action in matchweek 19 of the Portuguese Primeira Liga will end on Thursday night, 2 February 2017, less than 24 hours before beginning of round 20. Last round 19 fixture is set to take place at the “Estadio do Rio Ave” in Vila do Conde where Rio Ave takes on Braga and both clubs are in need to bounce back after defeats. And if last match for hosts from northern Portugal was more than 10 days ago, Braga had to play two games in that period, including a League Cup final against Moreirense on Sunday night.
Match Preview: Rio Ave vs Braga 02.02.2017
Four days after losing the 2017 Taça da Liga (League Cup) Final, Braga may claim third position in the Primeira Liga. Jorge Simão’s men were outwitted by Moreirense at the “Estádio Do Algarve” in São João da Venda, where “The Archbishops” missed an opportunity to lift the Taça da Liga for the second time in club’s history. That 0-1 defeat was preceded by a semi-final match few days earlier when Braga eliminated Vitória Setúbal with a 3-0 on same ground.
Except a lost final, “The Archbishops” have lost their last league game as well, when Braga suffered a home defeat from Vitória Guimarães (1-2). It was their first home defeat in the Primeira Liga campaign and it came after eight consecutive wins. The only previous slip for Braga in a home league game was exactly against Rio Ave – a draw in August.
So can say easily make a conclusion that Braga couldn’t pull any positives from the last two important games and Jorge Simão must find a way out.
Rio Ave returns at home for the first time after a 2-0 win against Sporting Covilhã on 11 January. However, game was part from last round of the League Cup group phase and although they were winners, Rio Ave finished second in Group C. Thus Rio Ave were knocked out from the competition. In fact “Rio Grande” shared the same number of points (6) with group winners Braga, but “The Archbishops” had better goal difference. Even if we consider Rio Ave have won their direct encounter vs Braga, goal difference is a decisive indicator in that tournament.
Hosts from Vila do Conde are one of the mid-table sides which is not as good as their sixth position at the end of season 2015-16. Anyway, squad led by Luís Castro is on just four points behind sixth-placed Vitória Setúbal.
Team News, Squads and Missing Players
Visitors from Braga must overcome their disappointment from the lost final and Jorge Simão should boost team’s confidence. “The Minhotos” are on two points from Sporting CP and a victory here can climb them to the third position, which can be a huge inspiration for Braga. Moreover, Sporting have an upcoming visit to Porto on Saturday night, so Braga can even dream for gaining of an advantage. Of course, they must win over Rio Ave and at the same time they should hope Sporting will lose to Porto, or at least they won’t win. Thereafter, on Monday night, Braga can play for a mandatory win against Estoril at home.
First of all Braga must concentrate on their clash against Rio Ave and Jorge Simão has to take some decisions. The 40-year-old Portuguese coach has named a group with 18 players and except striker Ahmed Hassan, who represents Egypt at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, few more names are out of contention. Djavan, Ricardo Ferreira, André Pinto, Mauro and Wilson Eduardo will miss the round, but some of the new signings are ready to cover their positions. Paulinho, who arrived from Chaves, will start at the right-back while Rodrigo Battaglia is ready to start in heart of Braga’s midfield again. The Argentine has been on loan at Chaves as well, but his loan there has been ended and he becomes a first-team player. Another central midfielder in face of Rafael Assis has joined Braga from Chaves a week ago, but expectations are Nikola Vukcevic will start next to Battaglia.
Central midfielder Xeka has joined Lille but Braga made another incoming transfer by loaning winger Federico Cartabia, who recently joined Braga from Spanish Deportivo La Coruna.
Rio Ave aims to end its bad form after two consecutive defeats on the road. First of them was a loss vs Belenenses (1-0) which has been followed by a 4-2 defeat in Porto. Game at the “Estádio Do Dragão” was on 21 January and Rio Ave have had enough time for rest and recovery.
Left-back Rafa Soares and striker Gonçalo Paciência are expected to return in the group, but two other full-backs are doubtful – Lionn and Pedrinho.
Meanwhile, Luís Castro must find a decent replacement of central midfielder Filipe Augusto, who has been loaned at Braga last season. Brazilian has joined Benfica which opens some space in Rio Ave’s midfield, where Rúben Ribeiro and Filip Krovinovic can compete for role of the attacking midfielder from the outset.
Betting Prediction and Possible Lineups
Rio Ave have been determined as favourites for winning the clash on Thursday night, but we don’t think Braga will be so affected from the lost League Cup final. They must perfectly realize how important is to remain self-possessed right now and what opportunity they might have, of course, if Braga shows enough desire.
We fancy odds for Braga and our recommendation goes on the away side. “The Archbishops” have already missed to defeat Rio Ave on two occasions this season, both of them at home turf. And if we already mentioned about their defeat in the League Cup groups, previous league game between both sides has ended with a draw. That was the 1:1 draw on 22 August 2016, when Braga’s attacker Nikola Stojiljkovic has leveled the score in stoppage time. These two matches were a great sign for Braga and that they should not underestimate Rio Ave at any point. Especially when game is not in Braga.
Our betting experts are backing Braga here, but betting with the Asian Handicap 0 (Draw No Bet) on them.
Venue: “Estádio do Rio Ave Futebol Clube”, Vila do Conde.
Referee: Nuno Almeida.
Possible Lineups of Rio Ave and Braga
Rio Ave FC: Cassio – Rafa Soares, Marcelo, Roderick Miranda, Nadjack – Tarantini, Pedro Moreira – Gil Dias, Filip Krovinovic, Heldon – Helder Guedes. (4-2-3-1)
Sporting Braga: Marafona – Paulinho, Emiliano Velázquez, Artur Jorge, Baiano – Pedro Santos, Nikola Vukcevic, Rodrigo Battaglia, Ricardo Horta – Rui Fonte, Nikola Stojiljkovic. (4-4-2)