MX23RW : Sunday, February 7 17:27:45| >> :600:154629:154629:
Jan 20, 2021 at 7.45pm UK at Estádio Dr. Magalhães Pessoa
Ruiz (28'), Tormena (59')
Castro (20'), Sequeira (34'), Esgaio (66'), Fransergio (90+4')
FT(HT: 1-1)
Pizzi (45' pen.)
Todibo (38'), Weigl (52'), Jardel (83')

Preview: Braga vs. Benfica - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Wednesday's Taca da Liga clash between Braga and Benfica, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Braga face Benfica in the Portuguese League Cup semi-finals on Wednesday evening as the reigning champions take on the competition's most successful side.

Former Sheffield Wednesday and Swansea City manager Carlos Carvalhal is now in charge at Braga, and the 55-year-old head coach will be trying to prevent the Eagles from winning their eighth Taca da Liga title.

Match preview

Benfica's Darwin Nunez celebrates with a teammate after scoring against Rangers on November 5, 2020© Reuters

The Estadio Municipal de Braga outfit will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing defeat to Pacos de Ferreira last time out, a result that saw them lose ground on the top three in the Portuguese top flight.

Goals are usually the order of the day when these two teams meet. Scorelines between the pair from the past three seasons include 3-2 Braga, 4-0 Benfica and 6-2 Benfica, so there should be plenty of entertainment on display.

Os Arcebispos had the better of their upcoming opponents in their previous meeting this season. A Francisco Moura brace helped Braga record a surprise victory at the Estadio da Luz back in November.

Carvalhal's men have been hit and miss since that result, with several impressive victories being punctured by three underwhelming losses.

Carlos Carvalhal, now in charge of Sporting Braga, pictured in June 2020© Reuters

A win in midweek would represent Braga's biggest victory under their new manager and see the pressure start to mount on Benfica boss Jorge Jesus.

The Eagles dominated this competition from 2008-09 to 2015-16, winning the trophy seven times in eight years, but the capital club have failed to reach the final in the last four seasons.

It is a chance for the Portuguese giants to reach their second final of the current campaign after they were defeated 2-0 by Porto in the Super Cup before Christmas.

Since then, Jesus's men have gone five games unbeaten and come into this semi-final clash as favourites to progress to the showpiece event.

However, Braga are capable of beating any domestic side on their day, and the likes of Haris Seferovic and Darwin Nunez will have to be on their best form to get a positive result.

Braga Taca da Liga form: W
Braga form (all competitions): WWLWWL

Benfica Taca da Liga form: W
Benfica form (all competitions): LWDWWD

Team News

Braga's Paulinho celebrates scoring against Leicester City in the Europa League on November 26, 2020© Reuters

Braga are having to rely on Barcelona academy graduate Abel Ruiz to lead the line at this moment in time, as Rui Fonte is a long-term absentee due to a cruciate ligament injury, and 28-year-old Paulinho suffered a muscle problem earlier this month.

The striking pair are joined on the treatment table by Portuguese left-back Francisco Moura, who has also ruptured his cruciate ligament.

Experienced full-back Andre Almeida is the only absentee for Benfica, with the 30-year-old facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

Gian-Luca Waldschmidt will be pushing for starting role, as will Barcelona loanee Jean-Clair Todibo, after the pair put in impressive displays in the Taca de Portugal on Tuesday, but Jesus is likely to stick with his more experienced stars for this crucial encounter.

Braga possible starting lineup:
Matheus; Sequeira, Carmo, Viana; Galeno, Elmusrati, Castro, Esgaio; Fransergio, Horta; Ruiz

Benfica possible starting lineup:
Vlachodimos; Tavares, Vertonghen, Otamendi, Gilberto; Grimaldo, Weigl, Pizzi, Silva; Seferovic, Nunez

SM words green background

We say: Braga 1-2 Benfica

Braga will fancy their chances of causing an upset coming into this one and will be determined to retain their crown. Nevertheless, we fancy Benfica to get the job done in what is shaping up to be an intriguing encounter.

Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:curl

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Spanish attacker Abel Ruiz pictured in action for Barcelona in August 2019
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