Think of a club exodus and many will point to the outgoings at Southampton this year but over in Portugal the real decimation has taken place at last year’s title winners Benfica and there could be a seismic shift towards their bitterest of rivals Porto who look to have an outstanding chance of reclaiming their title at the first attempt this season.
Jorge Jesus’s side won the cup, league by 7 points and League cup too as well as going all the way to penalties in the Europa League final but that team has been decimated in the current window and reaching anything like the same heights will be a remarkable achievement for Jorge Jesus.
The losses of key defender Ezequiel Garay, striker Rodrigo, wingers Lazar Markovic, key left back Guilherme Siqueira and goalkeeper Jan Oblak mean that half of the first choice XI that dominated last season is now gone and Benfica are shorn of their best centreback and goalkeeper who plated such a big part in them conceding just 18 goals over the whole season while also having their key creative influences removed.
Porto meanwhile, have gone some way to reconstructing a squad that was well below par last season with much young promise and while new manager Julen Lopetegu may lack experience his clout from wins with numerous Spanish junior sides has helped bring in some impressive recruitment, and he should be more stable than Paulo Fonseca or Luis Castro, neither of whom got a grip on proceedings at the Dragao.
Christian Tello joins from Barcelona to inject pace onto the wings and a fine finishing option when the chance arrives, and their attack is boosted significantly by the arrival of Oliver Torres and Adrian Lopez from Ateltico Madrid on loan and permanent deals respectively, and in Real Madrid’s Casemiro they have a capture of immense promise. While inexperience could be a factor that comes into play with Torres and Casemiro, Tello has 59 appearances for Barcelona and Lopez 90 for Madrid.
Most importantly they have kept a hold of Jackson Martinez, the league’s best forward and the top scorer last season with 20 goals, and in defence Bruno Martins Indi looks a real asset who can soften the blow of Mangala leaving to Manchester City.
At this moment in time Sporting Lisbon have only lost Eric Dier and Elias of their main players and while Leonardo Jardim has since moved to Monaco Marco Silva has bought promotion and successive European qualification to minnows Estoril; It remains to be seen if Marcos Rojo stays at the club but William Carvalho has not moved ahead of the new season which is a great relief; That said Porto should feel confident of improving past them at the least with Benfica likely to go backwards, they can take back their title. Prices of 5-4 are long gone but they are still worth backing to take back their title.
8 pts Porto (11/10 Bet Victor)