Santa Clara will play host to Braga for the opening fixture of game week 15 in Liga Portugal on Thursday, January 5. While Santa Clara is ranked 15th in the bottom half of the table, Braga is ranked third in the top half of the table. While the former will look for a turnaround in their fortunes, the latter will be determined to continue their momentum going into this match.

Santa Clara is experiencing a tough season in Liga Portugal. They have won only three matches out of 14 while drawing four and losing seven. The Azoreans have netted only 11 goals thus far and average 0.87 xG per match. Their defence has let in 14 goals with an xGA rate of 1.43. While Santa Clara had gained a bit of form heading into the international break, they lost 1-0 to Gil Vicente in their last match.

Braga, on the other hand, is amidst an impressive season. They have won ten, drawn one, and lost three matches thus far. The team has scored 32 goals while averaging 2.1 xG per match. Their defence has let in 12 goals with an xGA rate of 1.21. Braga is in good form, having won four of their last five games, including a 3-0 victory over league leaders Benfica.

We now look at some of the stats to understand the likelihood of the proceedings of the match.

Overview of the season for both teams

Liga Portugal Preview: Santa Clara vs BragaSanta Clara has shown signs of struggle this season. The above viz shows the percentile rank of the team’s stats in comparison to the other teams in Liga Portugal. We can observe that Mario Silva’s team has struggled in the attacking and possession departments. They have registered low numbers in terms of goals, shots, accurate passes, and possession rate. On the other hand, their defence has considerably better stats in areas like recoveries and a high pressing success rate. Santa Clara will allow Braga to have the ball while they keep things tight at the back.

Liga Portugal Preview: Santa Clara vs Braga

This season, Braga has been one of the top performers in Liga Portugal. They have scored goals on one end and defended well on the other end to secure all three points in most matches. Looking at the viz above, we can observe that Artur Jorge’s team possesses a high percentile rank in almost every department. Notably, the team has a high rank in terms of shots, goals, accurate passes, and final third entries. Braga will look to win this game in order to keep the pressure on Porto and Benfica.

Liga Portugal Preview: Santa Clara vs Braga

The comparison chart shows the overwhelming superiority that Braga has over Santa Clara across every department. Braga has a much more potent attack and is the better passer of the ball. Although there is a similar element, both teams have a good success rate in terms of pressing hard. Compared to the other two departments, both teams have close enough stats in defence.

Santa Clara’s defence vs Braga’s attack

Liga Portugal Preview: Santa Clara vs Braga

Santa Clara’s defence will be the key to obtaining a positive result against an offensive Braga side. They have conceded among the fewest goals in comparison to most other teams. Mario Silva’s men intercept the ball 40.57 times per match and win 61.8% of their defensive duels and 46% of their aerial duels. Braga will pose a tough test for Santa Clara’s defensive solidarity.

Braga, on the other hand, wins 60.1% of their defensive duels and 42.7% of their aerial duels. They make 43.93 interceptions per match and will look to not give away many chances to Santa Clara’s attackers.

Liga Portugal Preview: Santa Clara vs Braga

Braga will look to be on offence from the start. Artur Jorge’s team has averaged 32.71 positional attacks and 2.36 counterattacks per match this season. On average, they take 18.5 shots per match and have a 39.4% accuracy rate. The above viz shows that Braga has scored most of their goals from close range, but can also find the target from a distance.

Meanwhile, Santa Clara creates 25.71 positional attacks and 1.79 counterattacks per match. They take 8.93 shots on average and have a 34.4% accuracy rate.

Key players

Liga Portugal Preview: Santa Clara vs Braga

Braga captain Ricardo Horta has been Braga’s most crucial player in the attack. He has been in fine form and is the team’s top goal scorer with six goals and four assists. He netted an exquisite brace in the 3-0 win against Benfica in the last match. The 28-year-old has attempted 35 shots with a 40.9% accuracy rate in 14 matches this season. Ricardo will be eager to add more goals to his name at the expense of Santa Clara’s defence.

Liga Portugal Preview: Santa Clara vs Braga

Another of Braga’s key attackers, Vitinha, could pose a threat to Santa Clara. The above viz shows that the forward has taken 37 shots, averaging 4.24 shots per match. He has the ability to score from close range as well as from distance. The 22-year-old has five goals and two assists thus far and will be looking to add more to his tally.

Team News

Santa Clara is expected to be without Costinha, Tomas Domingos, Anderson Carvalho, and Marco Pereira due to injuries.

Meanwhile, Braga is likely to put out a full-strength starting eleven with no known injuries or suspensions in their squad.

This will be a must-win fixture for Braga to consolidate their top-three spot and retain the pressure on their rivals. They will look to collect all three points away from home and register three consecutive wins. Santa Clara, on the other hand, will be motivated to stir up an unlikely upset and improve their position at the table’s lower end.

Visuals via TFA data viz engine