A 2-1, first leg victory for Benfica against Braga means the pair’s Europa League semi-final tie remains very much in the balance, with the latter’s away goal giving them a genuine chance of reaching the Dublin final.
Nevertheless, taking into account their slender advantage, bookies lean towards Jorge Jesus’ side in the qualification betting, William Hill making them 4/11 to get through and Betfred pricing Braga at 9/4 to come out on top on aggregate.
The pair have met four times this season, Benfica winning three of those and Domingos Paciencia’s troops coming out on top once but crucially in all of those fixtures it has been the home team that has prevailed. Subsequently, Braga’s chances have perhaps been dismissed a bit too readily ahead of this one and the value arguably lies with the hosts at the Estadio AXA.
They beat Benfica 2-1 as recently as March while Liverpool, Arsenal and Seville are amongst their European scalps on their own patch this season and across all competitions Braga have only conceded twice in their last seven home games; that defensive resilience could be key given their possession of an away goal.
A Braga victory in the second leg is priced at 7/4 by and Paciencia’s charges are 10/11 in Stan James’ ‘Draw No Bet’ market but it’s probably better to back them to qualify, as extra-time and penalties aren’t out of the question in what is a finely poised tie.
After Porto’s 5-1 first-leg triumph against Villareal, the other semi-final is as good as over and the second clash in Spain is effectively a dead rubber. El Submarino Amarillo have to go for it and the visitors could pick them off so a modest stake on an away win could be the call in this one at 9/5 (Totesport).