Football is easily the most popular sport in Portugal. Its viewing figures exceed that of any other sport, and it’s played by more people too. And while the Primeiria Liga’s average attendance may be lower than the EPL for instance, Portuguese football has the capacity to attract huge crowds.
In 1987, the Estádio da Luz attracted one of the largest football attendances ever. Around 135,000 people packed into the stadium to watch Benfica and Porto battle it out.
Many football fans restrict themselves to their own domestic leagues. The English Premier League is televised around the world, while the Spanish La Liga, the Italian Serie A and the German Bundesliga attract much attention. But, to overlook Liga Portugal means missing out on a unique league full of talent.
A very brief overview of the Portuguese Primeira Liga
In 2014, the league name was changed to Liga NOS due to sponsorship rights. This has now been switched again to Liga Portugal Betclic as new sponsorship has been found. This choice is perhaps not surprising as betting on the Liga Portugal is very popular.
Indeed, many football fans join the tipsters competition to share footballing knowledge about the Primeira Liga games. But, despite recent name changes, the league dates back to 1934. This makes it one of the original European football leagues to be established.
As with other European leagues, Liga Portugal has seen many clubs rise and fall over time. Two of the oldest clubs have already been mentioned in the introduction. Porto and Benfica have dominated the top flight of Portuguese football and produced many memorable games.
In fact, some of the world’s biggest footballing talent has come from these two clubs. Yet, this league is more than the sum of just two clubs.
The biggest and oldest Primeira Liga clubs
One of the oldest Primeira Liga clubs was actually founded by two English brothers. Boavista FC outdates the league by three decades and was formed in 1903.
However, when the top clubs are discussed, there are only truly three in contention. The EPL has the Big Six, but Liga Portugal has the Big Three.
SL Benfica, Sporting CP, and of course FC Porto, are known as Três Grandes. Historically, these clubs have had the biggest support and the most success. Not surprisingly then, they also have the most intense rivalries.
This website goes into more depth about the history of the Portuguese Primeira Liga than there is room for here. And it is well covered. Nevertheless, if you want to know a few more interesting facts about Liga Portugal then carry on reading.
Interesting facts about the Portuguese Primeira Liga
Along with Boavista, Benfica and Porto have lengthy histories. FC Porto dates all the way back to 1893, and since then has seen some of the best players of all time grace its pitch.
Throughout the history of the league, some iconic stadiums have been constructed. Sporting Clube de Portugal’s Estádio José Alvalade has a distinctive design that is said to blend sport with art and architecture in one construction.
What follows are some other facts and details about the Portuguese top flight. However, as is the nature of sports, some of these statistics will no doubt change in the seasons to come.
Portuguese Primeira Liga teams are amongst the best in Europe
Portuguese teams have a rich history in Europe. In 2019, João Félix became the youngest player to net a hat-trick in the Europa League at just 19 years old. And Portugal’s top clubs have seen off the best that Europe can offer in the Champions League too.
Benfica won the European Cup back-to-back in the early sixties, and have appeared in 10 UEFA finals. Porto also won the old European Cup and just this century the northern team have also the Champions League, the UEFA Cup and the Europa League. As an aside, two Portuguese players appeared in the top ten attacking midfielders in Europe last season.
This outlines the quality of the players that Portugal produces. And of course, perhaps the most famous player of all started his professional career in the Portuguese Primeira Liga.
The Primeira Liga has produced the world’s highest-paid athlete
There are some serious names to contend with when discussing the best player ever. Lionel Messi of course will always be up there, as will Pele and Maradona. But, Portugal has produced some of the finest footballers ever.
Most football fans would put Luís Figo and Eusébio in the top three Portuguese players of all time. But, perhaps, only one Portuguese player would make it into the world’s top ten best ever players list.
Debating over the world’s best-ever players is contentious and subjective to a degree. Club loyalties and national pride may factor into it also.
Nevertheless, the world’s highest-paid athlete would grace anyone’s team. Cristiano Ronaldo kicked off his pro career at Sporting Clube de Portugal before being sold, with Manchester United and Real Madrid making him a superstar.
FC Porto’s youngest goalscorer was just 17
In 2019, Fábio Silva became Porto’s youngest Primeira Liga goalscorer at the age of 17 years and 3 months. Interestingly enough, Porto’s previous record holder was only 2 months older. Silva took the record from Rúben Neves.
Only five clubs have been crowned champions
Just seven clubs have topped the English Premier League. Therefore, you may not think this fact about the Primeira Liga to be that interesting. However, 24 clubs have been crowned champions of the English top-flight league. The EPL only came into existence in 1992.
Since 1934, just five teams have been crowned as champions of Portugal’s top-flight football league. To compound matters, Belenenses and Boavista have only won the league once each, with the former’s win dating back to the 1945/46 season.
Last season saw Benfica’s 38th title win. Although this was their first since the 2018/2019 season.
Benfica have gone a whole season (or two) undefeated
In the 1972/73 season, Benfica managed to go the entire season unbeaten. They racked up 28 wins against 2 draws and took the title. But, there is a much more interesting fact about going undefeated in the Primeira Liga.
Benfica fans may want to forget the 1977/78 season. Despite Benfica managing to go undefeated once again, Porto took the championship thanks to a superior goal tally.
Benfica’s and Porto’s rivalry can match any derby in Europe
The European leagues have more than their fair share of rivalries. Intercity derbies make for intense football occasions. Inter and AC Milan have a fierce rivalry as do Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.
However, the Portuguese Primeira Liga can match any Italian or English rivalry. Liga Portugal is more than just a championship, it is a distinct league with passionate rivalries and great talent.
The O Clássico (or The Classic) is the name given to the Benfica v Porto games. Currently, Porto edge out Benfica on victories, but who knows about the future?
With satellite TV and the internet, most of Europe’s football action can be found. So, there’s little excuse for missing out on what is a vibrant football league. The Primeira Liga helped to create one of the greatest footballers the planet has witnessed. And many other fine footballers have plied their trade in the Portuguese top flight.
The Portuguese league will no doubt continue to add to its storied history, and more interesting statistics and facts will come to pass.