- Portugal’s 2020-21 Taça da Liga reaches its climax on Saturday in Leiria, as Sporting Lisbon and Braga collide in a battle of the competition’s last two champions
- Sporting is enjoying its best domestic league season in decades, while Braga sits in its standard fourth place
- Get a breakdown of the two clubs, Saturday’s matchup odds and a few value picks below
Saturday’s Taça da Liga final provides plenty of sporting storylines and betting intrigue. Ruben Amorim’s past will meet his present in a battle of Sporting vs Braga at 2:45 pm EST.
Though some complained the tournament is structured to benefit Portugal’s biggest clubs — generating rivalry matchups, more eyeballs and higher television revenue in the process. However, the reality is the final four has lived up to the hype thus far.
Sporting dispatched Porto thanks to a thrilling Jovane Cabral brace in the final five minutes on Tuesday. While Braga were fired to a 2-1 victory over Benfica by an unlikely hero in defender Vitor Tormena.
To call this a breath of fresh air isn’t exactly right. Sporting won the tournament in both ’18 and ’19, and Braga lifted the trophy last year on home turf. However, it’s always refreshing to see clubs outside of the Benfica-Porto one-two competing for silverware.
Sporting vs Braga Taça da Liga Final Odds
|Sporting vs Braga||SPO -0.5 (+130) | BRA +0.5 (-175)||SPO +140 | BRA +190 | DRAW +210||Ov 2.5 (-111) | Un 2.5 (-123)|
Odds taken Jan 21 at William Hill
One key storyline is Ruben Amorim, Sporting’s current manager and a large reason for Braga’s triumph in the 2019-20 edition of the competition.
At just 35, the former Benfica midfielder’s quick rise through the managerial ranks — from second-division Casa Pia to Braga B and ultimately Braga, before a multi-million euro move to Sporting last season — has drawn attention beyond the country’s borders.
11 – Sporting CP have won 11 of their 13 games in the Primeira Liga 2020/21; the last time they have won more games after the first 13 matchdays was in 1990/91 (W12 D1). [email protected] takes a look at Sporting’s start in the Primeira Liga 2020/21 https://t.co/sArvrOaTbs
— OptaJoao (@OptaJoao) January 14, 2021
His 22-6-4 record since moving to Sporting (.688) is the best since Mario Lino led the club to the 1973 Taça da Portugal and 1973-74 Primeira Liga title in the span of 50 games (.720).
Sporting: Flight of the Lions
Sporting are on the brink of their first trophy since winning the Cup and League Cup double in 2018-19. They ought to be considered favorites to win the Primeira Liga, as well. They are undefeated and four points clear of Porto and Benfica with approximately 40-percent of the season in the books.
The Leoes boast some serious attacking talent. Their offense includes the likes of Liga-leading scorer Pedro Goncalves, former Rio Ave standout Nuno Santos and 18-year-old prospect Tiago Tomas.
This season’s success — unprecedented in the 21st century at the club — has been marked by consistency at 11-3-0. This was sorely missing from the Sporting sides of the past few seasons.
Braga: Talent Meets Opportunity
Braga has recovered from a slow start to the Liga campaign and now sits comfortably inside the top five.
Carlos Carvalhal’s team has taken shape under the skipper in his first season at the helm of the Guerreiros. Veterans Paulinho and Ricardo Horta are leading the charge offensively for Braga.
Braga’s offense has shown a tendency to dry up against organized defenses (0-2 at Pacos, 0-2 at Sporting). One would expect Carvalhal — a well-respected coach seeking his first title triumph since winning this same competition with Setubal in 2008 — to line his charges up defensively to start the game.
Sporting vs Braga Best Bet
The title game in Portugal’s youngest cup competition has been a cagey affair in recent times. Each of the last four games have hit the Under 2.5 and two of the last three headed to penalties.
Sporting and Braga have split their last eight meetings, 4-4 — including a Sporting win on penalties in the 2019 Taça da Liga semifinal. The last two meetings have also hit the Under 2.5.
Given the high-quality coaching on offer, the final’s propensity for tight, low-scoring affairs and recent history between the two, we like a no-goals first half and draw result.
Pick: First-half Under 0.5 (+175), Draw (+210)