21st February 2017. By Danni Biggs
So with the nation still in high spirits after being crowned champions at the Euros in 2016 we look into the Portuguese Primeira Liga: The Big Three. Only two other teams have broken the consecutive success of Benfica, Porto and Sporting Lisbon. Boavista and Belenenses are the only two teams who have disrupted the continuous dominance and success of The Big 3 in 1946 and 2001.
Staggeringly, with all three teams together they have won the Portuguese Primeira Liga 80 times, Benfica being the most with 35 times. The rivalry between all three clubs is intense motivating each team to improve and succeed. The competitiveness from players, staff and even fans is intense due to the vital points that will decide the upcoming Championship title.
Three-time Defending Champions Benfica
Benfica, currently top of the table are playing as three-time defending champions after being crowned in their previous Primeira Liga campaign for the 35th time. Benfica were founded in 1904 and have never been relegated from the top flight of Portuguese football along with the ‘Big Three’ rivals Porto and Sporting Lisbon. Benfica are currently the most successful club in Portugal in terms of domestic and overall titles, 78 in total.
For the past 3 seasons Benfica have consecutively been crowned champions of the Portuguese Primeira Liga, can they make it their fourth this season? Benfica are still at the top spot on the table with Porto very close behind. With only losing 2 games so far and the season due to conclude in May will Benfica be able to hold on?
Benfica have 12 games to go until the title is decided, these games include their close rivals Porto and Sporting Lisbon. Porto and Sporting Lisbon will no doubt want to come in and disrupt Benfica’s incredible run.
FC Porto – A Possible 2016/17 League Title Contender
Porto, close rivals with Benfica and with a total of 27 Primeira Liga titles under their belt they will be looking to intrude Benfica’s run of success this season. With just one point separating the two teams from the top of the table and 12 games to go until the season concludes Porto have a real chance to take the league title from the current defending champions, Benfica.
The 2012/13 season was the last time we saw FC Porto crowned Primeira Liga champions meaning that Porto have been left trophy-less for the last three seasons. The golden era of Porto came from the turn of the millennium where we saw a remarkable run from Porto, which saw them win the league title 10 times. So if they claim the 2016/17 league title will we see the mighty Porto go on an incredible run just like they did in previous years?
Throughout this season FC Porto have only lost one game where they suffered a defeat on August 28th by close rivals Sporting Lisbon, but did however manage to beat them on February 4th 2017. So results show that it’s possible that Porto can become Primeira Liga champions and maybe add to their tally of other domestic honors.
Sporting Lisbon – A European Championship Winning Squad
Sporting Lisbon is part of the big rivalry between Benfica and Porto, otherwise known as Portuguese’s Big Three. Although only having 16 Primeira Liga titles under their belt and being a long way off Benfica’s 35, Sporting Lisbon has room for success. No less than 10 players from Sporting Lisbon are part of the most recent Portugal’s national team, where there win against hosts France in Euro 2016 made them European Champions.
With European Champion players in the Sporting Lisbon club they will sure do damage to the success of their close rivals in the Big Three and also work towards lifting the Primeira Liga trophy again for the first time since 2001/02 season. Last season in 2015/16 Sporting finished second we hope that they can go one better, currently sitting 3rd on the table and 12 games still yet to go the Lions have a slim chance to become champions but could definitely however interrupt the success of their rivals.
How the ‘Big Three’ Affects the other Primeira Liga Teams
Portuguese’s top flight of football in the season 2016/17 sees a huge rivalry between the big three clubs. The rivalry between these clubs is so big that it means that these three teams have the highest average attendance every season in the Primeira Liga, leaving the other teams lacking in support and suffering from low attendance from their fans during their matches.
It is considered that the lack of local support to the teams outside of the big three is one of the main reasons why Portuguese football registers one of the worst attendances in European football best championships, along with the broadcasting of almost all the games on television.
The concentration on Porto, Sporting Lisbon and Benfica and their unbelievable domination and a mass departure of the quality players to other leagues is decreasing the quality of the game in Portugal, also partly explains the extreme lack of attendance in the Primeira Liga. The exodus of the better players of the Portuguese clubs leads from the lack of competitiveness and financial stability, meaning the players are attracted more to the higher wage and the more competitive leagues.