On this first matchday of the Primeira Liga, Feirense and Tondela will face off. These are two teams that, in theory, will fight to remain in this first tier of Portuguese football, just like they did last season.
On the previous season, Feirense was one of the pleasant surprises of this league, finishing in 8th place with 48 points, while Tondela finished in 16th, with 32 points, just above the relegation zone.
The team from Santa Maria da Feira had a strange season, considering they were destined to the relegation battle (and that was happening until certain point) but, with the dismissal of coach José Mota and the hiring of Nuno Manta, things quickly turned around.
With José Mota in charge, Feirense only won 3 times in 14 league matches (21% wins), while they drew twice and lost 9 times.
However, with Nuno Manta, who took the job on the 15th matchday (against Paços de Ferreira), the team went on to win 11 matches out of 20 played, with only 5 losses in that period, which is a much better win percentage than his predecessor (55% wins). They finished their campaign with 4 wins in a row, missing European qualification just by a couple of points.
Moving on to Tondela, I think this team is one of the main contenders for relegation, much more than Feirense itself (who I think will ensure their stay with relative ease in this top flight), especially after their performance last season, which saw them stay up miraculously (much due to Arouca’s passivity).
The team finished with the same points as Arouca, but they only stayed up due to their amazing run of wins achieved between the 29th and the 34th matchdays, where they were able to win 5 out of 6 matches. This had also happened in the 2015/2016 season as well (but with a lot of credit to them, obviously).
Feirense vs Tondela Pick:
Well, Feirense was clearly one of the most impressive sides during the 2nd half of the season of this Portuguese league, and also one of the teams who achieved more points (43 points achieved in 60 possible, which is remarkable). Since his arrival, the team only lost three times at home (Braga,Benfica and Boavista) and only drew once, while they had only won once at home with José Mota as their coach.
I expect a very capable Feirense this season, led by a young quality coach, who will certainly be capable of doing even better than they did last season, since he only joined halfway through.
In this match, and having said all of this, I think Feirense will be able to at least tie the game, although I fancy a win for them (1-0 or 2-0 most likely).