The Portuguese Primeira Division resumes behind closed doors this evening, with relegation threatened Portimonense taking on Gil Vicente before league leaders Porto go to battle with Europa League chasing Famalicao.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Portuguese top flight.
Benfica is the most successful football club in Portugal. Whilst their time as the kings of European football may have been some 60 years ago, the current Primeira Liga champions have a record 37 league titles sitting besides their two European Cups in the trophy room.
Benfica are recognised as one of the ‘Big Three’ when it comes to domestic Portuguese football. Porto, who have also won Europe’s highest honour twice – most recently lifting the UEFA Champions League in 2004, have been the champions of Portugal 28 times. Sporting Lisbon, whose home at Estadio Jose Alvalade is based just two miles from Benfica’s home at Estadio da Luz, have won the Primeira Liga 18 times.
The Primeira Division’s all-time top goalscorer is Portugal international Fernando Peyroteo with a staggering sum of 332 goals in 197 league appearances. Peyroteo spent his whole career at Sporting Lisbon between 1937 and 1949 and became the Portugal national team’s manager, handing Portugal legend Eusebio his international debut.
Ask any Benfica fan to name a legendary player from their club and Eusebio will be their answer, but in more recent years players such as Pablo Aimar, Joao Felix, Jan Oblak, Victor Lindelof and Andre Gomes have thrived at the club.
Stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani, William Carvalho, Ricardo Quaresma and Bruno Fernandes have been adored by Sporting Lisbon fans in recent years, with Joao Moutinho, Hulk, James Rodriquez, Iker Casillas and Ricardo Cavalho playing starring roles for Porto in not-so-distant memory.
Whilst it looks almost certain that Liverpool and Bayern Munich will be winning their most prestigious domestic honours this season, the title races in Spain and Italy look far more interesting. The story is similar in Portugal, where just one point currently separates Porto and Benfica in the Primeira Liga.
There are currently 10 matchdays remaining in the Portuguese top flight, and Porto have the upper hand in the title race thanks to their recent (GW20) 3-2 win over defending champions Benfica.
Striker Carlos Vinicius scored both Benfica goals in that defeat to Porto, and currently tops the league’s goalscorer charts with 15 goals this season. Vinicius’ teammate Pizzi is hot on his heels with 14 goals this season.
Sporting Braga and Sporting Lisbon appear to be in the driving seat when it comes to UEFA Europa League qualification, but Rio Ave – managed by former Sheffield Wednesday coach Carlos Calvalhal, Vitoria Guimaraes and Famalicao will chase those top four places all the way.
At the bottom of the league, Desportivo Aves will be hoping for a minor miracle in making up their nine-point deficit to Pacos de Ferreira, who also hold a six-point cushion over relegation-threatened Portimonense.