This week has been a disaster for Liga NOS teams in the Europa League. Braga, Porto, Sporting and Benfica, undoubtedly the four strongest clubs in Portugal, were all knocked out of the competition after first-leg results had seemingly given all four a decent chance of making progress.
Unfortunately, it is more evidence of an alarming slide in the quality of Portugal’s top division. It was not so long ago that Porto lifted the world’s ultimate prize in club football, José Mourinho’s Dragons winning the Champions League in 2004. One year earlier Porto had triumphed in Europe’s secondary competition and would do so again in 2011, while Sporting, Braga and Benfica (twice) also made the Europa League final between 2005 and 2014.
In the first decade and a half of the new millennium, Portugal’s top division was considered an incubator, even a finishing school, for some of the world’s biggest footballing talents: Hulk, Di Maria, James Rodríguez, Falcao, David Luiz, Ederson, Oblak, as well as a smattering of top-class local talent such as Rui Patrício, William Carvalho, Ricardo Carvalho and Fábio Coentrão to name just a few.
Those days seem long gone. So why has this unfortunate metamorphosis taken place? Here are five reasons that help explain the decline of Portuguese club football.
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