Football has been slowly making its comeback with the Germans leading the way. The Bundesliga has made its return and done a good job in keeping the show on the road. I’m not going to kid myself though, it’s been a bizarre watch.
The lack of noise, the increased ball-in-play time and less mouthing-off from players to the referee. It’s been a shock fellow fans, and now we have one more European league to entertain us before the holy grail of the Premier League returns.
Don’t know much about the Portuguese Primeira Liga? Well, you’re in the right place. Follow me as I show you the ropes.
Anyone who has ever been to Portugal knows the quality of the domestic beer Super Bock. Turns out there’s more to Portugal than just nice beer, though. Lisbon houses two of the three traditional powerhouses of Portuguese football in Benfica and Sporting. Porto are the other big boys further north.
An important factor to consider is the Primeira Liga has only ever been won by five teams. Belenenses in 1946, Boavista in 2001 and yes, you guessed it, EVERY other season in history has been won by a team from the famous top three. That’s a staggering statistic and one that must bear much significance when looking for value in any outright market.
This season Sporting have languished behind and sold key man Bruno Fernandes to Manchester United. So, with them being 18 points off top, their title race has been run. As for the others, let’s see who actually plays for them. You might be surprised to see a couple of old familiar faces…
Benfica are comprised of a good mix of experience and players coming up to their prime. They have several internationals in their ranks with the likes of Pizzi, Haris Seferovic and Ruben Dias playing regularly.
They also boast the league’s top goalscorer in the form of Carlos Vinicius, who has 15 so far. They are solid and have amassed the most away points this season. Added to the mix is the fact they have scored the most and conceded the fewest. They are worthy challengers for the league year-in, year-out. Adel Taarabt also plays for these lot, too. Any EFL fan will remember his outrageous few seasons in the Championship ripping it up for QPR.
Porto sit at the summit, one point ahead of Benfica. A fellow staple of European club competition, they are led by one of the most notorious sh*thousery experts seen in recent years – Pepe.
Along with the ageing centre half they are comprised of strong attacking talent in Moussa Marega, Jesus Corona, Ze Luis and Alex Telles. With only two losses all season (one coming on the first day) they are proving to be the benchmark that Benfica have to surpass to win the title.
The difference-maker for me is that Porto have already done the league double over Benfica. They’re still to play third-placed Braga but their run is equally as easy as Benfica’s who must still play Sporting (a highly fought Lisbon derby, remember).
Porto have scored in every league game so far and share the goals around much more than Benfica, who are reliant on the aforementioned Vinicius and Pizzi (15 and 14 goals respectively). Porto average more points-per game and, more importantly, a have positive difference of .63 in comparison to Benfica in the recent form table.
It couldn’t be closer in Portugal with a single point in it. But, for me, Porto edge it.
And to celebrate the return of the Portuguese top flight, wins for the current top three looks a good little treble to get the weekend going.
Top tips for the Portuguese top flight
*All odds correct at time of publication*