In front of a capacity crowd at the Estádio da Luz, Benfica beat Vitória Guimarães 5-0 to clinch the 2016/17 Portuguese championship with a game to spare.

First-half goals by Franco Cervi, Raul Jiménez, Pizzi and Jonas completely blitzed a Vitória side who had come into the match in sparkling form, having won their previous seven matches. Jonas completed the rout with a second-half penalty, and the visitors can count themselves lucky they did not concede more.

It is the first time in Benfica’s illustrious history that the Lisbon club has won four straight championship titles.

 

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Rui Vitória, Benfica coach: "This title was more difficult and more satisfying than last season's. Our rivals strengthened themselves by building great squads for the start of the season. I feel privileged to be able to experience this moment."

Luisão, Benfica captain: "It's the emotion and friendship among all the players who every day are proud to train. Throughout the championship we put our utmost into every game, finishing one match then thinking about the next one. This (victory) is priceless."

Nelson Semedo: "It's fantastic, it was an incredible year. Today was the most important day, for sure. Now it's off to the Marquês which will be rocking!"

Ederson: "It's a fantastic moment. I still can't believe it. I'm so happy. I have to really thank all my team-mates. We stumbled, but we picked ourselves up. This is a fantastic squad, in the changing room we're united, we are a family."


Five biggest reasons why Benfica are Portuguese champions again


Pizzi: "It was an incredible performance. From the start we were pushed forward by our fans who were marvellous. This is the culmination of a great season, with a lot of sacrifice and a lot of hard work. We're in the history of Benfica, this great club, and we're very proud of what we've done."

Salvio: "It's an enormous joy to be four-time champions for Benfica. This squad deserves the best. It's a moment of huge happiness."

Jonas: "Togetherness, friendship. That's what makes this group different. We are all to be congratulated. When I came here I didn't expect this. I want to continue at Benfica."

Mitroglou: "I'm very happy for the team and for the fans, for achieving this historic landmark for the club. I don't know how I'm going to tell this beautiful story to my children. This was my best season at Benfica."

by Tom Kundert 

 

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  • Guest - Andre/UK

    Well that was simply a fantastic way for Benfica to finally confirm the league title and our historic Tetracampeonato. The manner of the five star performance and total dismantling of a good Guimaraes team, puts to bed any lingering doubts about who has been the strongest team in Portugal this year and who's most deserving of the title. Benfica were 4-0 up at halftime and it's no exagerration to say it could've been 6 to the good at the interval, and 8 or 9 by the end of the match! Sensational performance from all the players against a team that has been the fourth best in our Liga this year and was coming off the back of 7 straight wins. Simply fantastic way to win the league, and all the millions of Benfiquistas around the world are over the moon.

    I'm so happy for the team and above all for Rui Vitoria. He has conducted himself with class and humility all season long, just as he did last season. He refused to allow the media and certain figures of our rivals to pull him into mind games and war of words and other such nonsense, always keeping his feet on the ground and not getting ahead of himself at any point of the season. This humility and focus rubs off onto the players and it was thoroughly professional from the team throughout the season. We led the table every week from the 5th round until now, so there really can't be any argument about whether the team deserves to be champions. For quite some time now, it seemed Porto could possibly sneak the title right at the end (as they did back in 2013), but it was Benfica who led the way right from the start and set all the pace, so we are totally deserving champions. What's most impressive is that it was done amidst one of the worst injury-hit seasons I have ever seen for any club. These last couple of weeks were the first time since pre-season that we had everyone available to play. Among those key players missing long-term were Jonas (the league's top-scorer last season and our best forward) who missed 2/3 of this season, Fejsa (at least half), Grimaldo (2/3), Jardel (practically the whole season), plus a whole host of others who missed weeks and even months of the season. Very impressive for the team to pull this off, given the circumstances.

    I feel for the Porto players, who gave their all this season and made us work right to the end, and for Nuno Espirito Santo who has remained classy and humble throughout. Congratulations to the Porto players and coach for playing a good season and giving us a good fight to the end. However, I have to mention that for the various Porto club officials and certain suppourter groups, I don't feel any sympathy. Their pathetic behaviour and loud noise made all season long was frankly an embarassment. Constantly trying to create consiracy theories about the referees (essentially trying to pressurize the referees), supporters chanting and insulting Benfica in the stands rather than supporting their own team against some other opponent, even going so far as to mention Chapecoense (I really couldn't believe that), well I think all this means they simply didn't deserve to win anything this season. And they should learn for next season: always better to focus on yourself and your own path. This is what champions do. Focusing on your rivals all the time and constantly making excuses for not getting the results you need, means you get distracted, lose focus and stability and ultimately end up with nothing.

    As for SLB, the players and coach did the club proud, and this historic Tetrecampeonato is the just reward. I think this season, more than others in recent memory, it was all about the collective rather than individuals. Every player who came in did their bit and there was a real unity amongst the squad. If I had to single out any individuals, then perhaps the stand out players were arguably Pizzi, Nelson Semedo and Ederson. All three of these had phenomenal seasons, especially Pizzi whose versatility and footballing IQ has been super impressive. Special mentions too for Lindelof, who didn't enjoy the best of starts to the season but then I thought played a tremendous second half of the season....and for Jonas, who missed most of the season but then in these last couple of months showed his class with some really important goals. But all in all it was about the collective, there's a real unity and motivation amongst the players, and the club is really passing through a good moment these last few years, and may it continue! Carrega Benfica!!!!

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  • Guest - jon/usa

    I completely agree, Andre. Benfica were oftentimes far from convincing -- especially in the second half of the season -- but no one can argue that they did not deserve to win the title this season. Sporting and Porto simply could not handle high pressure situations. Porto in particular had two or three opportunities towards the end of the season where they could have taken advantage of Benfica slip-ups, but they always seemed to choke. Rui Vitoria may not be a world-class tactician, but his ability to cultivate a never-say-die, winning-mentality is second to none in this league. Benfica always seemed to get the job done when their backs were up against the wall. It wasn't always pretty, but it sure was effective. At the end of the day, Benfica's superior mental fortitude -- as well as their superb squad proved to be the difference.

    I also agree that Pizzi, Ederson, and Nelson Semedo were the standouts in a season that was plagued by numerous long-term injuries to many of our best players. Ederson and Nelson Semedo, are already, in my opinion, are among the top 10 in the world in their respective positions, and when you consider the fact that quite a few elite teams are going to be in the market for world-class right-backs and goal-keepers, I have a hard time seeing us keep them for another year. Pizzi, remarkably, still has his fair share of critics and doubters, but I would argue that he has been absolutely outstanding this season. Yes, the defensive flaws to his game can be exploited against quality opposition -- especially in the Champions League -- but no one can deny that he has been Benfica's heartbeat for all of this season.

    Fejsa's importance cannot be overstated, but it is Pizzi who conducts the orchestra; it is Pizzi who dictates just about every single attacking sequence. His offensive production (10 goals and 8 assists) this season has been incredibly impressive, especially when you consider that he operates as a #8 in Rui Vitoria's system. He also (according to whoscored.com) leads the league in key passes and long passes per game. We also cannot overlook the guy's sheer consistency -- If I'm not mistaken, he has played in over fifty games this season. If Pizzi misses 2-3 months due to injury, there is no way we would have won the league. He is that important. Again, I'm not saying that Pizzi is a world-class central midfielder (I would still argue that Adrien Silva is a better all-around #8), but he has found his niche as an attack-minded #8 on the best team in Portugal. That is environment in which he thrives, and I think potential suitors in bigger and better leagues are aware of this. That (plus the fact that he is 27) is why I think we have a good chance of holding on to him for the next few years.

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  • Guest - Andre/UK

    @jon/usa, some add-ons: Yes, soon we will be in the silly season, with all our players linked with the richer European clubs! Our most sought after players are likely to be Lindelof, Ederson and Nelson Semedo, and i think in all probability we will lose at least 2 of those 3 players this summer. I think Ederson and Lindelof are both virtual gonners, as many of the rich clubs are after quality GKs and CBs this summer. But I'm hopeful we'll be able to hold on to Semedo for another season, providing the club play hard ball with his valuation, and hopefully nobody will be willing to pay so much for a fullback who only has 2 seasons of senior team experience under his belt. I also think that of the 3 players, Semedo would be the hardest to replace as he's such a unique player (similar to how difficult it was to replace Renato, for being such a unique player himself). If Ederson goes, Julio Cesar is a more than able replacement with plenty of experience. While if Lindelof goes, we have two promising young CBs in the B team in Ruben Dias and Kalaica (Jardel also hardly featured this season and I expect him to play a much bigger role next season). It's Semedo who I really hope we manage to keep, as his energy and athleticism would be hard to replace. If we can sell some of the unwanted players who are out on loan (i.e Talisca, Cristante etc), and get maximum fees for 2 of these 3 players mentioned, then hopefully that'll be it for sales and no more key players will leave.

    In terms of additions to the squad, for me the biggest priority this summer is to bring in a quality number 8. Central midfield was our biggest issue this season, particularly against quality opposition in the Champions League and we weren't able to dominate in the centre of the park. I have been very impressed with how well Pizzi has done as a makeshift number 8, and his versatility as a player meant he has done admirably in that position. However, that's not his best position and I think he's better suited to concentrate more on the offensive side of things. Next season in the tougher champions league matches I'd like to see us play with 3 in the middle, for example: Fejsa and the new number 8, with Pizzi further ahead as more of an attacking midfielder or even on the right wing again. The stats you mention Jon, of Pizzi's goals and assists this season are so impressive for a number 8, and it shows that this is what he should concentrate on doing, above all. I'd love it if we got Enzo Perez back as the number 8. He's just the kind of player who could bring more control and quality to our central midfield and wouldn't need much time to settle in as he's a former player. I don't know how realistic it is to get him back, as his salary is obviously much higher nowadays, but Valencia have been a shambles in the time he's been there, and perhaps he'd be willing to take a pay cut to return to SLB. In any case, if not him, then another number 8 with similar characteristics would really benefit our squad.

    Anyway, I'm still totally overjoyed with our title win and the manner in which we won the league on Saturday, and I really feel like the club is back where it belongs and moving in a good direction. There's been a good vibe around the club for the last few years and we have more stability than our direct rivals at the moment. In short, we're in a strong position to be able to dominate even more in the coming seasons. We have the best youth academy in the country nowadays and there can be little doubt that Seixal has been producing a greater number of extremely talented young Portuguese players than anyone else this decade. And in Rui Vitoria, we have a coach determined to use this local talent and to give them real opportunities in the senior squad. So all in all, Benfica fans have much to be happy and excited about at the moment, and much to look forward to in the near future.

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  • Congrats to our regular Benfiquistas Andre and Jon, lol.

    It really is a shame Raul Jimenez is stuck behind 2 excellent strikers in Mitroglou and Jonas. I would really love to see how well he would do in a full season. I think that kid is fantastic. He plays a lot like Hulk used to and is very difficult to push around as a defender.

    Congrats guys!

    from Burlington, ON, Canada
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