Benfica won a tight race for the Primeira Liga title last season and with a stronger squad, it is a good pick to make it two in a row this time round.
Who do Bettors Favor?
Checking out the best-rated online sportsbooks we can see that bettors favor the reigning Primeira Liga champions Benfica to retain its title in 2023/24. Benfica is priced at around -110 while the nearest challenger is FC Porto at +115, with Sporting Lisbon some way behind on +700. The remainder of the teams in the league are at +50000 or higher, including Braga and Guimaraes.
MTS Primeira Liga Betting Briefing
Most of the top leagues in Europe have been dominated by a small number of clubs and that is certainly the case in Portugal, where three teams have won the majority of championships.
Benfica, the reigning Primeira Liga champion, has won it 38 times, followed by Porto with 30 wins and Sporting Lisbon with 19. Only two other teams have ever won it: Belenenses in 1946 and Boavista in 2001. The last three titles have been won by Sporting, Porto and Benfica respectively, with Benfica ultimately prevailing in 2022/23 by just two points ahead of Porto.
The majority of the teams in the Primeira Liga are based around the two major cities of Oporto in the north and the capital Lisbon in the south, and the all-Lisbon rivalry between Sporting and Benfica is one of the oldest and most keenly fought in European soccer.
Benfica Bidding for Another Title
Benfica had to work hard to claim its 38th Primeira Liga title last season, but the signs are that it could be in a stronger position for this campaign, after some astute transfer moves.
The most significant was undoubtedly the signing of Angel di Maria, whose experience and creativity will be invaluable in the challenges ahead, but the purchase of Orkun Kokcu could be an equally shrewd move. One of the stars of the Eredivisie-winning Feyenoord team of last season, Kokcu arrives in Lisbon for a club record €25 million and adds extra dynamism to the Benfica midfield.
Porto was not far behind last season but there are doubts about the team’s depth, and this looks like an ideal opportunity for Benfica to record another title win.
Can Porto or Sporting Stop Benfica?
Porto came closest to stopping Benfica last season, but despite dropping only two points in its final twelve games, Sergio Conceicao’s team was unable to overhaul the eventual winners, and it is possible that this team’s best chance of returning to the top of Portuguese football has gone.
It seems clear that the team is in need of reinforcements, particularly in the full-back roles, but there were also times last season when Porto lacked the edge of creativity needed to unlock stubborn defenses. Conceicao has proven to be an excellent tactical coach, but he may not have the weapons to match Benfica this season, considering that even before the arrival of Di Maria and Kokcu, Benfica finished with a +11 goal difference over its northern rival.
The third of the big teams in Portugal, Sporting Lisbon, does not look well-placed to mount a serious challenge this season, after finishing fourth behind Braga last time: a result that means it will have to play its European football in the Europa League this season.
Ruben Amorim is still the head coach at Sporting, and will be embarking on his fourth full season at the club, but the style of play that he prefers is well rehearsed and most opponents known what to expect by now. Can he extract more from his squad? It is possible, and at a minimum, he will be expected to get Sporting back into the top three, but third may be the limit of its success.
MTS Primeira Liga Challengers
Outside the big three, there are few teams with the resources to challenge for the title, and Braga is unlikely to do that, but it could still surprise a few teams.
Last season, Braga upset the established order in Portugal’s top division by finishing third, ahead of Sporting Lisbon and there is no reason why this feat cannot be repeated. Artur Jorge is still the head coach, and most of last season’s successful squad has been retained. The club has also pushed ahead with some ambitious summer transfer business, bringing in Rony Lopes, Jose Fonte and Rodrigo Salazar, adding more depth to the squad.
League success may ultimately depend on whether the team reaches the Group Stage of the Champions League. Playing top-quality European competition in midweek may put a strain on the club’s resources, but there is enough promise in this team to consider picking them to make the Top Three if you can find a US bookie offer that market.