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Sep 26, 2021 at 6pm UK
Santa ClaraSanta Clara
Lincoln (90+5')
Mansur (42'), Villanueva (45+5'), Carvalho (62')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Oliveira (71')
Leite (37')

Preview: Santa Clara vs. Braga - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Santa Clara vs. Braga - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Sunday's Primeira Liga clash between Santa Clara and Braga, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Looking to avoid a third defeat on the bounce, Santa Clara welcome Braga to the Estadio de Sao Miguel in round seven of the Primeira Liga on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the visitors, who returned to winning ways last time out, will look to keep the ball rolling and close the gap on leaders Benfica.

Match preview

Santa Clara failed to arrest their slump in form as they lost the lead twice before settling for a 2-2 draw against second tier Rio Ave in their Taca da Liga Group D opener last Wednesday.

That unconvincing performance was in keeping with their struggles in the league where they fell to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Portimonense in their most recent outing last Friday.

In a cagey affair at the Estadio Municipal de Portimao, Rui Costa cancelled out Wilinton Aponza's opener in the 20th minute before Lucas Fernandes netted on the stroke of half time to restore Paulo Sergio's side's lead.

That was a second consecutive league defeat for Santa Clara, who suffered a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of league leaders Benfica when they locked horns two Saturdays ago.

Os Acoreanos head into Sunday's game winless in five of their most recent six outings across all competitions with a narrow 1-0 victory over Gil Vicente back in August being the only exception.

With four points from six matches, Daniel Ramos's men are currently 14th in the Primeira Liga standings and the poor run has been down to their disappointing record on the road, where they have lost each of their three games to date.

They have also struggled to impress at both ends of the pitch, netting just four goals so far, while conceding the second-most goals of all the sides in the division with 14.

While Santa Clara will be looking to turn a corner this weekend, they face the daunting task of taking on a Braga side who have won six of the last nine meetings between the sides, including each of their two encounters this year.

Braga, on the other hand, returned to winning ways last time out when they comfortably beat Tondela 3-1 on home turf.

It was late drama at the Estadio Municipal de Brab ga as Iuri Medeiros and Ricardo Horta scored in a three-minute spell to put Os Arcebispos two goals up in the 84th minute, and after Renat Dadasov halved the deficit moments later, Medeiros made sure of the result with his second strike of the game in the 90th minute.

Prior to that, Carlos Carvalhal's side suffered a 2-1 defeat against Serbian powerhouse Red Star Belgrade in their Europa League Group F curtain-raiser last Thursday.

Following the win last time out, Braga are now unbeaten in each of their last four league games, picking up two wins and two draws since a 2-1 defeat against Sporting Lisbon on August 14.

With 11 points from six games, Sunday's visitors are currently fifth on the log but already have ground to make up on the "Big Three" at the top of the table who have started breaking away from the rest of the sides in the division.

Santa Clara Primeira Liga form:
  • L
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • L

Santa Clara form (all competitions):
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • D

Braga Primeira Liga form:
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • D
  • W

Braga form (all competitions):
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • W

Team News

Santa Clara will be without the services of Venezuelan defender Mikel Villanueva, who sustained an injury while on international duty against Peru two Mondays ago.

Twenty-nine-year-old midfielder Costinha also misses out after picking up an Achilles tendon injury against Moreirense back in August.

First-choice goalkeeper Marco Pereira should start in goal this weekend after he was given a breather in midweek, when Ricardo started between the sticks for the first time this season.

Meanwhile, Carvalhal will be unable to call upon the services of Spanish forward Abel Ruiz, who hobbled off the pitch with a 51st-minute injury against Tondela last weekend.

In his absence, 27-year-old forward Medeiros could be tasked with handling business in attack after coming off the bench to net a brace in the aforementioned game.

The defensive trio of Raul Silva, Rolando and David Carmo are out of contention for Sunday's encounter as they continue their spell on the sidelines through injuries.

Andre Castro is yet to make an appearance for Os Arcebispos this season and the Portuguese midfielder will sit out his 11th consecutive game after picking up an injury against Benfica back in May.

Santa Clara possible starting lineup:
Pereira; Ramos, Afonso, Henrique, Mansur; Carvalho, Morita; Costa, Lincoln, Patric; Crysan

Braga possible starting lineup:
Matheus; Tormena, Leite, Oliveira; Couto, Mineiro, Musrati; Martins, R Horta, Chiquinho; Medeiros

We say: Santa Clara 0-2 Braga

Santa Clara have struggled to carry on the momentum from last season's superb performance as they find themselves at the wrong end of the table thanks to an underwhelming start to the campaign.

They take on a Braga side who have been dominant in their previous encounters and we predict they will build on their win against Tondela last time out and claim all three points ahead of their crucial Europa League tie against Midtjylland.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 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.Under 3.5:data

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Primeira Liga Table
3Sporting Lisbon8620134920
4Estoril PraiaEstoril8431127515
7Vitoria de GuimaraesGuimaraes824297210
9Gil Vicente8233101009
11Pacos de FerreiraPacos de Ferreira8233811-39
15Santa ClaraSanta Clara8134616-106
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