Rio Ave to win at odds 2.80
Having lost all chances to qualify for the League Cup semi-finals, Maritimo boss Pedro Martins has announced he would field a second-string line-up in this match. Rio Ave can still go through if they win here and Sporting Lisbon beat Pacos de Ferreira at home, with the visitors arriving in full strength.Maritimo have done brilliantly to establish themselves as genuine top table side in Portuguese Primeira Liga over the last few years and they even managed to qualify for Europa League group stages this term. However, the European campaign was clearly too much for the team and it took the wind out of their sails, leaving os Leoes in big problems. Hectic fixture list is one of the main reasons why the players are running on empty at the moment, and why they now sit four points behind their next opponents. After losing all chances to make it to the next stage of League Cup, boss Pedro Martins has vowed to use fringe players and youngsters in the clash against Rio Ave, with no less than six footballers from team’s B side in contention for this match.While finishing last league campaign just above the relegation zone, Rio Ave have been showing a lot of improvement this season, which was hardly surprising after they heavily reinforced the squad in the summer. Nuno Espirito Santo’s side have recorded some excellent results this term, twice beating Sporting Lisbon and holding mighty Porto to a 2-2 draw. The team now have a unique chance to qualify for the League Cup semi-finals and the boss has made it clear his side will give their best to defeat Maritimo. Everybody at the club is aware they could miss out on the semis even if they win this match, but they are prepared to keep their part of the bargain. Rio Ave squad have undergone some changes of late, with veteran striker Joao Tomas leaving the team, but club officials signed him a great replacement as Manchester United striker Bebe arrived on loan.