Maritimo vs Nacional by Isaiah
Maritimo made quite a big surprise in a 2:1 home victory over Braga on last Saturday evening. It was actually fairly deserved three pointer, even though Braga was the first one who opened the scoreline and made a stronger start into the game taking a lead in fifth minute with a goal from Danilo. Near the end of the first halftime hosts managed to equalize via Maazou, making even stronger impact in the second half.
Soon after the re-start kick off in second half, they took the lead with a goal from Gallo and secured the victory with very organized performance, especially in the defense later on. With this victory they improved home record to 5-1-1 in the league now, with the team relying much more on their home performance than at away (16 points earned in comparison to only 3 on the road). The team continues to be at the middle of the table, without relegation worries, but it will also be very hard for them to get a European ticket via league, as they are already nine points away from fifth placed Braga - that's why they want to focus on getting the exit via Cup competition this season. Home side will miss two central defenders, long term absentee Igor Rossi who didn't play a single minute this season and Gege (11/0).
Nacional, on the other side, continued with their poor performance away from home, coming from a 4:0 defeat away to Guimaraes last weekend. Hosts showed clear superiority from the first minute, taking a 3:0 lead already before the halftime with goals from Gomes and Andre (2) within ten minutes, from 28th to 38th minute.
Near the end of the match Andre bagged his third goal, while the visitors stood with a man less following exclusion of left back Sequeira few minutes before the final whistle. Overall impression is that their defense was very vulnerable, as the hosts scored goals easily from the chances they created. This was their ninth defeat in ten last matches on the road, as the team managed to score only once in last six matches away from their own fans. As for the league, they are only a point above the relegation zone and the things don't look that bright for them there, which might mean that they aren't that focused on Cup game and might rest couple of players here. Visitors will miss few important players for this match, as they can't count at defensive midfielder Boubacar Fofana (13/0) and central defender Mahmoud Ezzat (4/0), as well as forward and their second top goalscorer Hyun-Jun Suk (13/2). Forward Ali Fathy (2/0) went on a loan to Egyptian side Arab Contractors till the end of the season.
A bit more open game than the bookies expect should be here, but also the hosts have every reason to be set as slightly bigger favorites at least. Nacional is playing far away from their potential away from home and Maritimo should be able to get the victory, easy or hard now now when the draw has opened up for the competitors without Benfica and Porto.