Portuguese Football closer to the Big Five

by ScoreBossTeam on Mar 29, 2022 10:28 am

Football ball above the Portugal flag

For some years, Portuguese clubs, the Portuguese national team, and Cristiano Ronaldo of course, have been giving pleasure to football fans. With solid results and often spectacular play, Portuguese football is increasingly asserting itself at European level. To the point of now making almost equal play with the 5 countries (England, Spain, Germany, Italy, France) which dominate the continent. Here is an overview of the many assets of Portuguese football, in club as in selection.

2022: Portuguese year?

Each country has its words that are difficult to translate into another language. For the Portuguese, it is the term Saudade, a complex feeling mixing nostalgia, melancholy, hope and desire for elsewhere. Well, for this 2021/2022 football season, we can leave the saudade in the locker room! Portuguese football is doing well, with convincing sporting results and a controlled financial situation.

This spring, Portugal placed two clubs in the quarter-finals of European competitions. This is Braga, a handsome winner of Monaco in the round of 16 of the Europa League. And especially Benfica Lisbon, author of a remarkable Champions League campaign. Benfica first took second place in their group at the expense of FC Barcelona. And they have just eliminated Ajax Amsterdam and their beautiful football, to afford a gala quarter-final against Liverpool.

To top it all off, Portugal are still in the running for the 2022 World Cup. Threatened with early elimination, Cristiano Ronaldo and his teammates have won against Turkey in the semi-finals of the play-offs. The surprise defeat of Italy against North Macedonia opened the doors wide for them to validate their place in the World Cup against the Macedonians. We should therefore find very ambitious Portuguese at the end of the year in Qatar.

A suspenseful end to the Primeira Liga season

In the Primeira Liga, Portugal's national league, fans of FC Porto and Sporting Portugal have extra reason to celebrate, with both clubs emerging as favorites for the final title this season, with Porto having a 6-point advantage. Benfica are third, 12 points behind. Two big shocks can however reverse the odds before the final gong of the season.

First, on April 17, the Lisbon derby will see Benfica host Sporting. A timely match since this month, our April 2022 Bettor Undisputed challenge follows all Primeira Liga matches. Perfect for showing off your talent as a Portuguese football tipster! Finally, Porto will travel to Benfica for the penultimate day of the championship. The Dragões (dragons), should be careful not to lose too many points en route.

For your predictions on the winner of the Primeira Liga 2021-2022 edition, advantage Porto, therefore. As for the goalscorers, the title of top scorer should not escape Benfica's new star, the Uruguayan Darwin Núñez. He has really exploded this season and is sailing far ahead of the competition, with 20 goals already. Tipsters will quickly agree on the title of best passer too, since the experienced right midfielder of Benfica, Rafa Silva, leads the contest with a large margin, and already 15 assists.

A very attractive championship

This good year of Portuguese football does not happen by chance. Of course, the rise of a player as unique as Cristiano Ronaldo has inspired and invigorated the entire country. But CR7 alone does not explain everything. Since the early 2000s, the economic and sports development strategies put in place have paid off. The Portuguese league stands out in several ways:

  • Decentralization of TV rights. Unlike other European championships, TV rights are negotiated club by club in Portugal. This somewhat anachronistic practice will end in 2028. However, it has helped to maximize the revenues of the biggest Portuguese clubs, and therefore to preserve their competitiveness on the continental scene.

  • Player trading. Portuguese clubs are very effective in the recruitment, post-training and resale of players with very high potential in other major leagues. João Félix, Rúben Dias, Bruno Fernandes, Éder Militão: so many Primeira Liga players left for the biggest European clubs for sums of 50 to 120 million euros.

  • Os Três Grandes. The Big Three: this is what are called the three biggest clubs in Portugal, Porto, Benfica and Sporting. Tipsters know that each season the winner of the championship will be among these three. The competition for the title is nonetheless fierce, and their rivalry deeply punctuates the life of the Portuguese, including at family meals on Sundays!

Admittedly, the competition for the title is limited to three clubs. You have to go back to the 2000/2001 season to see another champion, Boavista. But every season, it’s very hard to predict the winner between these teams of a similar level. The interest and the constant suspense of the Primeira Liga make it a very pleasant championship to follow. The top 5 leagues in Europe cannot say the same, especially the German Bundesliga, dominated every season since 2013 by a single club, Bayern Munich.

A Big 6 of European leagues?

So, what is missing from Portuguese football to officially add to the very closed club of the 5 major European leagues? Not much to tell the truth. But some barriers are hard to cross. The limitations of Portuguese football are above all linked to the modest size of a country of 10 million inhabitants compared to much larger neighbors in Western Europe. This inevitably generates a deficit in terms of public, audience, and players.

Portugal nevertheless succeeded in partially correcting this handicap, thanks to its openness to Latin America. Portuguese clubs are thus specialized in recruiting throughout the South American continent, particularly Brazilian players. For the latter, integration in Portugal is very easy since they speak the same language.

These include São Paulo players Éder Militão and Ederson, who played respectively for Porto and Benfica before joining Real Madrid and Manchester City. The Colombian connection is also doing very well, from Radamel Falcao to Luis Díaz and James Rodríguez. This way, Portuguese clubs strengthen their team, benefit from the attention of the South American public, and touch the jackpot when these players go to continue their career in Madrid, Manchester or Paris.

The national team at the top

Openness to South America is not the only factor behind the success of Portuguese football. The quality of the training of the players and the know-how of the Portuguese technical staff play a major role. Artur Jorge, José Mourinho, Fernando Santos, André Villas Boas… Generations of talented technicians follow one another, helping to maintain the competitiveness of Portuguese clubs, solid 6th in the UEFA coefficient.

With 4 Champions Leagues and 2 Europa Leagues on the clock, Portuguese clubs have a long tradition of success. But the national team, despite high-level performances in the youth teams, has long failed to hang a European title on its record. But since 2016, it has been done. Led by Fernando Santos and Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portuguese won EURO 2016 in the final against France. And offered themselves a second trophy in 2019, with the UEFA Nations League. Enough to definitively establish Portugal in the big leagues!

World Cup in sight

To conclude, it should be noted that there is still a step to take in Portuguese football to join the elite: that of a world title. Since 2002, Portugal have regularly qualified for the final stages of the World Cup, but without achieving a feat, apart from a fourth place in 2006. The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is the right time for Cristiano Ronaldo and his teammates to have their football recognized not only in Europe, but throughout the world. You can be sure that CR7 will do everything to convert this opportunity!

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