FC Porto will start as favourites to win a third consecutive Portuguese First Division crown at Gil Vicente FC on Sunday, with new signing Jackson Martínez spearheading their attack.
The Colombian international will attempt to emulate countryman Falcao, who scored 41 goals in 51 league games over two seasons with the Dragões. However, Martínez says he does not feel the weight of expectation despite inheriting the Club Atlético de Madrid man's No9 shirt. "I don't feel any pressure to match him or surpass his achievements," said the 25-year-old. "I am going to make my own piece of history."
Indeed, the former Atlético Nacional de Medellín and Club Jaguares de Chiapas forward will do just that if his heroics in the Portuguese Super Cup are anything to go by. Martínez's 90th-minute headed winner against A. Académica de Coimbra earned Porto their first silverware of 2012/13 and showed what a vital player he could be in Vitor Pereira's squad. "I believe he will become an important player," said the Porto coach. "This will be a very competitive year, and I am certain Porto will be up to the task."
The 2004 UEFA Champions League winners know they have to be at their best to claim a 27th Portuguese title, with SL Benfica ready to pounce on any slip. Jorge Jesus has strengthened his squad ahead of Saturday's season opener at home to fellow challengers SC Braga with the acquisition of midfielders Carlos Martins and Enzo Pérez as well as winger Eduardo Salvio.
"It will be a difficult game against a title contender," said Jesus, set for his fourth campaign at the Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica. "Braga have shown in recent years what they can do. It will be a great show but Benfica can play well and start the season with a victory."
Braga, third last term ahead of Sporting Clube de Portugal, have a new coach with José Peseiro replacing Leonardo Jardim at the helm. They boast international experience and landed CFR 1907 Cluj goalkeeper Beto while bringing in Atlético midfielder Rúben Micael on loan. "I am delighted that we have six Portuguese internationals," explained Peseiro.
Sporting, meanwhile, will be targeting a first championship since 2002 when they kick off at Vitória SC on Sunday, and acquiring the likes of Gelson Fernandes, Danijel Pranjić and Khalid Boulahrouz has renewed optimism at the capital club. "All teams have things to improve on," said coach Ricardo Sá Pinto. "I feel our team are ready for the first match."
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