Benfica Begin Title Defense in Style: Week One Premeira Liga 2015 – 2016
Most eyes in the soccer world this past weekend were fixed on the opening weekends for Germany’s Bundesliga, France’s Ligue 1, or the Dutch Eredivisie—not to mention the second weekend of the 2015 – 2016 English Premier League. Also launched over the weekend, though, was the Portuguese Primeira Liga, where it looks like the reigning champions from Benfica are already establishing a thorough title defense. Keep reading for more information on week one Premeira Liga 2015 – 2016 fixtures.
Benfica surged into the new season in high style, crushing Estoril 4-0 to establish an impressive three-point, +4 goal difference start to the season. Unsurprisingly, the four-point win places Benfica at the top of the Premeira Liga table.
The Benfica-Porto Rivalry
Benfica are looking for a third Portuguese national football title this season, after narrowly beating out FC Porto for the title in 2014 – 2015. Porto actually lost fewer matches than Benfica last season (two losses, versus Benfica’s three), but the Eagles had the better record overall (including 27 wins, compared to Porto’s 25), and ultimately edged out the Dragons by three points on the final table.
While Benfica’s four-point win over Estoril—including two goals from Jonas, the league’s second most prolific scorer from last season—was the big story of the Premeira Liga’s opening weekend, it certainly wasn’t the only one. On the contrary, it looks like the rivalry between the Eagles and the Dragons is going to continue in earnest in 2015 – 2016, as Porto are already nipping at the heels of the defending champions.
FC Porto beat 2014 – 2015 fifth-placers Vitória de Guimarães 3-0 to take up residence in third place, winning the game largely off the back of two goals from Vincent Aboubakar. A 23-year-old striker from Cameroon, Aboubaker signed with Porto last summer, but didn’t play much, only making 14 league appearances, and scoring just four goals.
With this week one brace, it looks like Aboubaker is ready to step up and lead Porto’s offense—a good thing, since the Dragons lost their top scorer, Jackson Martinez, over the summer. Martinez led the entire Premeira Liga in 2014 – 2015, netting 21 goals in league fixtures, and adding another 11 for Porto in cup and continental play. Atletico Madrid reportedly paid a release fee of €35 million to bring Martinez to Spain, so Porto will be looking for a new offensive lynchpin this season. After game one, it looks like Aboubaker may be the man for the job.
The Rest of the Field
Beyond the Benfica-Porto battle that is undoubtedly set to be a major factor in the 2015 – 2016 Premeira Liga, the Portugal top flight football league had an eventful opening weekend featuring both expected outcomes and upsets.
On the “upset” side of the coin was the game between Moreirense (H) and Arouca (A). Arouca only narrowly avoided relegation last season, finishing in 16th place with a record of seven wins, seven draws, and 20 losses. Moreirense, meanwhile, ended the year in 11th. In other words, between the home field advantage and the better recent history, Moreirense seemed like the natural favorite to win this match. Arouca surprised everyone, though, knocking down two second-half goals—within seven minutes of one another, no less—to win the game 2-0. The victory puts Arouca in third on the Premeira Liga standings table.
On the “expected” side of the coin, meanwhile, Sporting Lisbon won the league-opening game on Friday, August 14th, beating Tondela 2-1 to secure a spot in the top five. Tondela were recently promoted to the premier division, while Sporting finished third in 2014 – 2015. Needless to say, the odds were in favor of Lisbon—even if Tondela were the ones with the home field advantage.
Also winning their week one games were Sporting Braga (2-1 against Nacional), Uniao Madeira (beating Maritimo 2-1), and Pacos de Ferreira (managing a 1-0 win over Academica). There were two draws on the soccer table, as well, between Belenenses and Rio Ave (3-3) and Vitoria Setubal and Boavista (2-2).
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