Porto won the 2019-20 season with two games to spare, with rivals Benfica finishing five points behind them while Braga were 22 points away in third.
Sergio Conceicao has led FC Porto to the title in two out of the three seasons he has been manager, yet all the predictions this year rank Benfica as the favourites. The return of talismanic manager Jorge Jesus, coupled with big moves in the transfer market for the likes of Everton Cebolinha, Julian Weigl, Jan Vertonghen and others have made the Eagles the heavy favourites.
In contrast, FC Porto have been relatively quiet in the transfer market despite raising funds from English club Wolves with the sale of Vitinha and Fabio Silva.
Forwards Evanilson and Mehdi Taremi have been the major incoming transfers this season, alongside left-back Zaidu and goalkeeper Claudio Ramos, but the club has not spent upwards of €20 million.
SC Braga had four different managers in charge of them during the course of a tumultuous 2019-20 campaign, so it is no surprise to see them hire a new boss despite finishing third. However, in Carlos Carvalhal they have an experienced manager who can perhaps break the monopoly of the big three in Portugal.
The Archbishops have used the sizeable $31 million they received from Barcelona for the transfer of Trincao in a shrewd manner, with Abel Ruiz' loan from the Catalans being made permanent for €8 million. Nicolas Gaitan arrived from a dismal spell in France as a free agent, while Rolando also arrived in February for free. Expectations are high, although facing Porto in the opener might be a tough ask, especially after a pre-season with mixed results.
FC Porto vs SC Braga Head-to-Head
The last time these two teams met was the end of last season; and with the opener to this campaign also pairing the two, this fixture has become quite a bookend. Porto have won five of the last 10 fixtures, with there being two stalemates. However, the three most recent games between the pair have resulted in victories for Braga, including a 2-1 victory in the final fixture of 2019-20.
FC Porto form guide: W-W-W-L-W
SC Braga form guide: D-L-W-L-D
FC Porto vs SC Braga Team News
Sergio Conceicao is in a confident mood going into the campaign, with the Porto boss not at all concerned by Benfica's tag of favourites. This confidence has seeped into his players, with Alex Telles, chased after by a plethora of top clubs, confirming that he will stay for the season.
New signings Mehdi Taremi and Evanilson may make it straight into the first XI, while there are doubts over the fitness of Claudio Ramos and Shoya Nakajima, with the pair unavailable for training. Ivan Marcano and Mouhamed Mbaye are long-term absentees with ACL injuries.
Injuries: Ivan Marcano, Mouhamed Mbaye
Doubtful: Shoya Nakajima, Claudio Ramos
Carlos Carvalhal has his work cut out to replace Trincao in Braga's attack, and may opt for a change in formation that Artur Jorge used, with Nicolas Gaitan and Abel Ruiz possibly getting a chance. On the injury front, Rui Fonte is the only long-term absentee, with the rest of the squad fit to play
Injuries: Rui Fonte
FC Porto vs SC Braga Predicted Lineups
FC Porto predicted XI (4-3-3): Diogo Costa (GK); Wilson Manafa, Chancel Mbemba, Pepe, Alex Telles; Otavio, Danilo Pereira, Mateus Uribe; Jesus Corona, Mehdi Taremi, Moussa Marega
SC Braga predicted XI (4-3-3): Matheus (GK); Ricardo Esgaio, David Carmo, Bruno Viana, Nuno Sequeira; Andre Castro, Al Musrati, Fransergio; Nicolas Gaitan, Paulinho, Abel Ruiz
FC Porto vs SC Braga Prediction
SC Braga may have had the upper hand over FC Porto in the last few games, but given that they have a new manager at the helm, whose formations and results in pre-season haven't been the best, a victory at the Dragao may be a tough ask.
FC Porto will be determined to prove they're Benfica's equals and new arrival Mehdi Taremi and Moussa Marega may be the players to give them that great start with a home victory against Braga.
Prediction: FC Porto 2-0 SC BragaPublished 17 Sep 2020, 12:00 IST