Benfica Slight Favorites Ahead of Porto to Win Portugal’s 2020-21 Primeira Liga Title

Jesus Corona handling a pass

Jesus Corona and FC Porto are slight +130 underdogs to repeat as Primeira Liga champions in Portugal in 2020-21. Photo via Instagram (@FCPorto)
  • After a spectacular second-half collapse last year, Benfica have had an ambitious transfer window and open this season as title favorites (-134)
  • After a quiet, fiscally-responsible summer, reigning champions Porto are the second-favorite (+130)
  • Sporting Lisbon (+2000) and Sporting Braga (+3000) are the most enticing longshots, though look extremely unlikely to mount a serious challenge

The 2020-21 Primeira Liga campaign kicks off on Friday, Sep. 18, at 2:00 pm ET, when feisty Famalicao will host title hopefuls Benfica.

Reigning champions Porto will begin their title defense on Saturday at 4:00 pm ET with a stiff test at home against a loaded-up Braga team looking to make a run at a Champions League berth this season.

Primeira Liga Odds 2020-21

Team 2019-20 Final Pos. Odds at DraftKings
Benfica 2nd -134
Porto Champion +130
Sporting Lisbon 4th +2000
Sporting Braga 3rd +3000
Vit. Guimaraes 7th +10000
Famalicão 6th +15000
Belenenses 15th +20000
Boavista 12th +20000
Gil Vicente 10th +20000
Maritimo 11th +20000
Moreirense 8th +20000
Pacos Ferreira 13th +20000
Rio Ave 5th +20000
Santa Clara 9th +20000
Tondela 14th +50000
Farense 2nd, LigaPro +50000
Nacional 1st, LigaPro +50000
Portimonense 17th +50000

Odds taken on Sept. 16th.

The Favorite: Benfica (-134)

It’s been a necessarily flashy summer break for Benfica, which tried to rinse the taste of last season’s collapse from its mouth with the return of lionized manager Jorge Jesus and notable additions like center back Jan Vertonghen (Spurs) and attackers Darwin Nunez (Almeria) and Lucas Waldschmidt (Freiburg).

Jesus’ key signings came at a price of €80M — serious cash by Primeira Liga standards — and pre-season predictions in the Portuguese media indicated Benfica are heavy favorites.

A surprise 2-1 exit in Champions League qualifying against Greek outfit PAOK, which benefited by goals from Vertonghen (OG) and ex-Benfica man Zivkovic, will hurt the pocket book and ratchet up the early-season pressure.

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While Benfica certainly have the priciest squad in Portugal, there are ego issues off the pitch which will need to be negotiated and a new squad identity formed in order for the favorites to come good on their -134 odds.

2021 English Premier League Odds Tracker

Still Here: Porto (+130)

How the tables have turned: After his job was on the line in the early stages of last season, Sergio Conceicao managed to guide Porto to a league and domestic cup double. He has retained his core squad minus England-bound wonderkid Fabio Silva (Wolves, €40M).

Despite the media’s portrayal of the transfer season as a lopsided win for Benfica, Conceicao and his staff managed a number of promising buys: target man Mehdi Taremi and his league-leading 18 goals joined from Rio Ave, while 20-year-old Brazilian forward Evanilson also joined from Fluminense.

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This was and still is a Porto team anchored by its long-serving veterans: Pepe will anchor the heart of the defence; Alex Telles will continue to provide great movement and ball service off the left flank; and the duo of Moussa Marega and Tiquinho Soares will still be heavily involved in the attack.

The Long Shot: Braga (+3000)

While Sporting Lisbon has held down the No. 3 spot in Portugal for much of the past decade, it is Sporting Braga that bettors should keep an eye on if they are considering a longshot bet to win the Primeira Liga outright.

Where Sporting Lisbon have seen a boatload of talent shipped out over the past year, including Bruno Fernandes (Man. Utd.) and more recently Marcos Acuña (Sevilla), Braga has been adding to a strong core under new manager Carlos Carvalhal.

Veteran Nico Gaitan will bolster the side’s attack, while the signing of Al Musrati from Rio Ave — where he starred for Carvalhal in a workhorse midfield role last season — will add strength in the heart of the pitch. Other interesting additions include former Portugal youth star Iuri Medeiros (loan from Nuremberg) and Abel Ruiz, a young striker bought outright from Barcelona B.

Season Winner Total Points
2015-16 Benfica 88
2016-17 Benfica 82
2017-18 Porto 88
2018-19 Benfica 87
2019-20 Porto 82

The Pick: Porto (Again)

Times are turbulent at Benfica, with presidential elections looming at the club and Jorge Jesus still moulding the squad in his first season back at the helm.

Continuity is the name of the game for Porto, which was more judicious (at least from mid-September’s vantage point) in the transfer market yet still added a legitimate top-tier scorer in Taremi.

It’s very unlikely anyone other than those two has the necessary depth to challenge for the title, and given the trend in Portugal — Benfica (7) and Porto (11) swapping championships over the past 18 seasons — the best bet is the reigning champions at longer odds.

In this case, that’s Porto.

Pick: Porto (+130)

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