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Weekend Parlay: Back Benfica, Barcelona

After edging Porto to the league title on the final day of the 2022-23 season to claim their first Primeira League championship in four years, Benfica looked poised to reach the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals for the third year in a row. Instead, they lost each of their first four matches and finished behind Real Sociedad and Inter in their group, only to narrowly secure a place in the Europa League knockout round after winning 3-1 in Salzburg in the final group stage match.

Benfica would follow up that victory in Austria by winning seven matches in a row, before drawing 1-1 to Estoril Praia and losing on penalties in the Taça da Liga quarterfinals. Benfica bounced back with three wins in a row before snatching a 2-2 draw at 10-man Vitoria, with January arrival Arthur Cabral coming off the bench and scoring in the fourth straight match with a 90th-minute equalizer. Angel Di Maria scored his second penalty in the 98th minute as Benfica edged Toulouse 2-1, whilst the following match would see David Neres grab a brace of goals and a brace of assists in a 6-1 win vs. Vizela.

Weekend Parlay: Back Benfica, Barcelona
Weekend Parlay: Back Benfica, Barcelona

 

Whilst Sporting remain the favorites to win the Primeira Liga title in our sportsbooks, who are backing them at -140, Benfica aren’t too far behind at +135 in the betting lines. Since kicking off their title defense with a 3-2 defeat at Boavista on opening day, Roger Schmidt’s side have not lost in the league, scoring 52 goals in 22 and boasting the best defense in Portugal with just 15 goals conceded.

Benfica sit first in the Primeira, level on 55 points with Sporting, who have a game in hand. They are seven points above Porto and 12 above Braga. We’re backing them to come away with their 18th league win of the season against Portimonense in our Primeira Liga betting picks.

Despite entering the match in mournful circumstances, Benfica held on for a 0-0 draw in Toulouse, eking out a 2-1 aggregate victory thanks to wasteful finishing from the French side and a stellar performance in goal from Anatoliy Trubin.

They will be looking to stretch their unbeaten streak to 22 matches on Sunday as they host Portimonense, who have lost six of their last nine and who sit 13th in the table, one point above the relegation playoff spot. If you’re planning to bet on Portuguese soccer, bet on Benfica picking up their ninth straight win at the Estádio da Luz.

 

 

Barcelona’s Leaky Defense Cause for Concern

Whilst the Portuguese champions are clicking on all cylinders thanks to a stalwart backline, the Spanish champions can’t seem to buy a clean sheet at the moment.

FC Barcelona ended a four-year title drought in Xavi’s first full season in charge thanks to a world-class defense, keeping 26 clean sheets across 38 La Liga matches and conceding just 20 goals. Today, however, Barcelona find themselves in a tricky position in La Liga betting, with the Blaugranas currently third in the league table, trailing Girona by two points and Real Madrid by eight. Barcelona also sit three points above Atletico Madrid and five above Athletic Club, who sent them packing from the Copa del Rey quarterfinals on Jan. 24 with a 4-2 extra-time victory.

Apart from their wins against Osasuna in the league and the Supercopa de España, Barcelona have kept just two clean sheets since the start of November: a 1-0 win vs. Real Sociedad on Nov. 4 and a 1-0 win vs. Atletico on Dec. 3. In that same period, they conceded four goals to Girona and Real Madrid, three to 19th-placed Granada and Belgian champions Antwerp and two to winless Almeria and fourth-tier Barbastro.

After falling to a 5-3 defeat to Villarreal on January 27, Xavi announced his decision to step down at the end of the season. These defensive woes have persisted in the UEFA Champions League. For the fifth match in a row, the Blaugranas were unable to keep a clean sheet in Europe’s premier competition. Robert Lewandowski gave them the lead at the hour-mark, but host Napoli would tie things up in the first leg shortly after via Victor Osimhen.

Barcelona have conceded 34 goals in 25 league matches, the worst tally in Spain’s top-half alongside Getafe, who sit 10th. Apart from a 2-0 loss vs. Rayo Vallecano that saw them end the game with eight men and a 2-0 loss at Las Palmas that saw them end the game with 10 men, Getafe have been kept scoreless just once since the start of November: a 2-0 loss to Real Madrid on Feb. 1. Five of Getafe’s last seven have seen both teams find the back of the net, and there’s more than enough reason to expect something similar in your La Liga betting predictions.

Having conceded 15 goals in their last five home matches in the league, the Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys has been anything but a fortress as of late. If you’re planning to bet on Spanish soccer, bet on both teams finding the back of the net on Saturday in our Las Vegas soccer odds.

 

 

Questions of the Day

Which Primeira Liga player is likely to score this weekend?


Rafa Silva has found the back of the net in each of his last four league matches for Benfica, and he’s more than capable of continuing his impressive form against Portimonense.

Which La Liga match is likely to see both teams score?


Nine of Barcelona’s last 10 matches have seen both teams score, and we’re backing that trend to continue vs. Getafe.

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