We’re kicking off a new week in Portugal, and Kevin Hatchard’s taking on one of the big hitters.
Lisbon giants to come unstuck
Benfica v Rio Ave
Monday 01 March, 19:00
Gennaro Gattuso needed a Napoli win against Benevento after a tough week, and thankfully for our Tobias, the Partenopei hit the front before half-time yesterday. TG says arrivederci to us with a profit in his back pocket, and we’ll take the FBOTD tour bus to Portugal. Ailing giants Benfica are in action against Rio Ave, and the Eagles’ season is unravelling.
Jorge Jesus’ side were dumped out of the Europa League in dramatic fashion by Arsenal in midweek, as Bukayo Saka’s delicious delivery was headed home by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for a late winner. Jesus was already under pressure after an underwhelming domestic campaign that has seen Lisbon rivals Sporting disappear off into the distance in the title race.
Benfica are playing poorly. They have won just one of their last seven games in the Primeira Liga, an unthinkable sequence for a club of their stature, and even more alarming when you consider the amount of money that has been lavished upon the squad. They have scored multiple goals just once in that sequence, and if you look at their form at the Estadio da Luz, they have won just four of the last seven.
Rio Ave have generally improved since coach Miguel Cardoso took charge, and they only lost their last game 1-0 to Famalicao because they had to play an hour with ten men. They have lost just three of their last eight league games, and a 1-1 draw at runaway leaders Sporting in January shows what they are capable of.
You can back Rio Ave/Draw in the Double Chance market at 3.18 if you think that Benfica will slip up again, and after their demoralising defeat to Arsenal and a suspension for centre-back Nicolas Otamendi, there’s plenty of scope to oppose the hosts. Alternatively, you could back Under 2.5 Goals at 2.0621/20 – spluttering Benfica’s last nine top-flight games have seen an Under 2.5 Goals bet land, and this could be an anxious affair.
I’ll back both options by putting half a point on each wager.