Sporting Lisbon Lead the Way in the 2015/16 Primeira Liga; Can They Stay There?
Sporting Lisbon haven’t exactly been experiencing a drought of success in the Portuguese Primeira Liga. On the contrary, the Lions have won 18 league titles over the years—the third highest tally of any Portuguese soccer club. They’ve also finished as the league runners-up on five occasions in the past 10 years, most recently in the 2013 – 2014 season. Add 2014 – 2015 victories in both the Portuguese Cup and the Portuguese SuperCup, and things are going fairly well as Sporting Lisbon lead the way in the 2015/16 Portuguese League.
A Monopoly of Success
With all of that said, though, it’s worth noting that Sporting have not won the Primeira Liga title in more than 13 years. They last clinched the division in the 2001 – 2002 season, winning 22 of their 34 games to beat Boavista to the top of the table. Porto and Benfica finished third and fourth, respectively.
Since then, Porto and Benfica have been the only football clubs to win Portugal’s top-flight soccer title. Porto have won nine times since 2002, bringing their total title count to 27. Benfica have only won four titles since Sporting’s last victory but have still won the Primeira Liga 34 times, more than any other football club in the nation. Benfica are also the reigning champions, having won the title in both 2014 and 2015.
Needless to say, Benfica and Porto have been enjoying a monopoly of success in the Portuguese Primeira Liga. Could that all come to an end this season, though? Eight weeks into the 2015 – 2016 season and Sporting Lisbon are leading the way. Could the Lions win their first national championship in more than a decade?
Sporting Lisbon’s Success
Sporting has won five of their seven games across all competitions. They are currently playing very well not just in the Primeira Liga, but also in the Portuguese Cup and the UEFA Europa League. With six league games won, two drawn, and zero lost, the Lions are leading the table with a point total of 20.
Porto, last season’s runners-up, aren’t too far behind Sporting Lisbon in the standings. On the contrary, Porto are the only other undefeated soccer squad in the league right now, with five wins and three draws to their name.
Both of these teams have also won games against Benfica. Porto beat the reigning Primeira Liga champs 1-0 in a September 20th home match. Sporting, meanwhile, topped the Eagles 3-0 in a thrilling October 25th away match. The Lions scored three goals in the first 36 minutes of play to stake their claim on the match early on.
Clearly, either Sporting or Porto could be feasible frontrunners for the 2015 – 2016 season. All eyes will be on their first head-to-head match of the season to determine which football club is stronger. That match is scheduled for January 2nd and will see Sporting Lisbon enjoying the home field advantage.
Benfica, meanwhile, are clearly out of the frontrunner position. The reigning Primeira Liga champions have been surprisingly inconsistent this season, winning big victories against teams like Estoril and Belenenses.
However, they’ve also picked up numerous outright losses so far. The defeats against Sporting and Porto are understandable since those are top-tier football clubs. But they also fell 0-1 in a match against Arouca—a team that finished 16th in the 2014 – 2015 Primeira Liga. Benfica’s five wins and three losses puts them back in eighth place in the current league rankings.
The Eagles do have one shard of silver lining, in the form of Jonas Oliveira. Jonas was the number two goalscorer of the Primeira Liga last season, netting 20 points for his club. (Porto’s Jackson Martinez finished at the top of the rankings, with 21 goals total.) This season, despite Benfica’s struggles, Jonas has scored a league-leading total of seven goals. Sporting Lisbon’s Islam Slimani is second, with six goals in the first eight fixtures.
Do you think the Lions have what it takes to win the 2015 – 2016 Primeira Liga? Or will Porto or Benfica keep their monopoly going? Pick up a Sporting Lisbon jersey 2015 – 2016 at Soccer Box to support the club, and then find us on social media to keep up with the latest Portuguese football action. Soccer Box is active on Facebook, Pinterest, or LinkedIn.