From the home of Mourinho, Ronaldo and Xavier
Before I delve any deeper into the Portuguese League, I thought it may be of use to give you all an overview of how football is organised here.
Currently, there are 4 main competitions:
Portuguese League (official name: Liga Sagres)Portuguese CupLeague Cup (official name: Carlsberg Cup)Supercup
From the 2006/2007 season on, there are just 16 teams competing in Liga Sagres and, due to that, only two teams are now relegated.
The League Cup was introduced in 2007 and it is only open for the 32 teams of the top two divisions, while the Portuguese Cup is open to the four levels of professional football, as well as the best teams from the regional championships (similar to the FA Cup and Carling Cup).
Ever since its inception in 1934/1935, the Portuguese League has been dominated by the 'Big Three' - Porto, Sporting and Benfica - and only twice have there been different champions: Belenenses in 1945/146 and Boavista in 2000/2001.
Some of you might remember Boavista famously earning a 1:1 draw at Anfield in the group stages of the Champions League, but those days are long gone.
A shadow of its former self, the financially-crippled club is hoping to be granted permission to start the new season... in the regional championship.
Another interesting fact is the high number of foreign players in Portugal.
Today, there are more foreigners than Portuguese nationals in Liga Sagres, with the vast majority being Brazilian.
The rationale is simple:
1) Portuguese and Brazilians share the same language which will make adaptation easier.
2) It is faster to get a talented player abroad than nurturing a home-grown player. That may compromise the future of some smaller clubs and affect the National team, but unfortunately, bad management is rife in Portugal.
Interestingly, contrary to what happens in countries like Spain or England, there isn’t a strong regional identity here.
90 percent of the people support one of the big three clubs, with the only real exception being Vitória Guimarães.
Therefore, attendances are high in those four clubs’ stadia and low in the others.
I’ll close this brief introduction by showing you how the different teams rank at the present time.
I am obviously just scratching the surface here, but you’ll get to know more as the blogs grows.
Tier 1 (title challengers): Porto, Sporting & BenficaTier 2 (European contenders): Braga, Marítimo, Nacional & Vitória GuimarãesTier 3 (the rest): Belenenses, Paços Ferreira, Leiria, Académica, Naval, Rio Ave, Vitória Setúbal, Leixões & Olhanense.
Until next time...
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An interesting start to the opening round with the big three all drawing. ESPN UK are showing live coverage this year and showed the Benfica - Maritimo match last night.
Why wasn't Keirrison named on the bench?
Looking forward to reading along.
Normally I pay passing attention to the Portuguese League, but I paid enough last season to know Belenenses finished 15th and got relegated. So how come they're still there? Something strange happen to a team that should have come up?
I always was under the impression that Braga had a strong following as well.
I guess Keirrison is still adapting to the league and to the team. He was one of the last players to arrive and he has time to shine. Though maybe the manager is ruing that decision!
It is true that Belenenses finished 15th, but they didn't get relegated because Estrela da Amadora had big financial problems. They hadn't pay the players for several months and couldn't come up with the money before the deadline set.
If you check Wikipedia, Braga had the 5th largest average attendance in the league. But let's not forget one important detail: Braga did quite well in both the UEFA Cup and the championship while Guimarães endured a disappointing season. Let's see in an average season what the Braga faithful does!
While your point about a lack of regional identity is valid (even though in addition to Guimaraes, you failed to mention that Braga have had good numbers as they've continued to improve), it does exist on the top-three scale, a person from the North will be more inclined to follow Porto than Benfica or Sporting and vice-versa with Lisbon.
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