The domestic season in Portugal has come to a close so it’s time to sum up which individuals impressed most across the campaign.
Porto ended their 5-year trophy drought to win the Liga NOS championship and as a result it is unsurprising that their players dominate this list.
PortuGOAL brings you the 2017/18 Portuguese Primeira Liga team of the season.
[For more information on each player and video highlights of them in action click on the link in the respective description]
Goalkeeper - Cláudio Ramos (Tondela)
The Portuguese Primeira Liga is blessed with a number of talented shot-stoppers, including Sporting’s in-demand Rui Patrício and the legendary Iker Casillas of Porto. However, one goalkeeper that continues to catch the eye is Tondela’s Cláudio Ramos. The 26-year-old once again played an enormous part in his side maintaining their top-flight status for a 4th straight season. Their survival was achieved in an altogether less dramatic fashion than the previous two campaigns, and Ramos’ outstanding performances were the bedrock of this newfound consistency. Capable of making frankly miraculous saves, a summer move to one of Portugal’s elite clubs surely beckons.
Right-back - Ricardo Pereira (Porto)
Porto’s, or rather now Leicester City’s, Ricardo Pereira has been the most consistent right-back in the country and has deservedly secured a place in Fernando Santos’ Portugal squad for this summer’s World Cup in Russia, beating off the competition of Barcelona’s Nelson Semedo and Inter Milan’s João Cancelo. The Foxes have shelled out over €20m on Ricardo and what they are getting is a very versatile performer who is comfortable in any position on the right flank, and more than capable on the left too. This flexibility proved invaluable at times in helping Sérgio Conceição’s Porto win the league title and is a quality that should see him flourish in the Premier League next season and beyond.
Left-back - Alex Telles (Porto)
On the opposite flank there is similarly no real debate as to who can occupy the left-back spot. Alex Telles has been head and shoulders above the rest in the Liga NOS this season. His basic statistics tell their own story, a remarkable record of 20 assists from 45 matches across all competitions, particularly catching the eye with his superb set-piece delivery. His attacking record has been notable, but his defensive abilities have also improved considerably, being part of a defensive unit that conceded just 18 goals in 34 games across the campaign.
Centre back - Iván Marcano (Porto)
The aforementioned duo of Ricardo and Alex Telles were certainly helped considerably in their defensive duties by a rock in the centre of defence in the form of Iván Marcano. The 30-year-old Spaniard, together with his Brazilian partner Felipe, formed arguably the strongest central partnership in the division for a second consecutive season. Seven goals in all competitions across the season also highlights what a threat he can be from set pieces. Marcano’s Porto contract expires this summer, they’ll be doing everything they can to renew with him, otherwise a free transfer bargain is awaiting what will be many suitors throughout Europe.
Centre back - Raúl Silva (Braga)
Speaking of goal-scoring centre-backs, Braga’s Raúl Silva is no slouch in this department either, registering 9 goals for Abel Ferreira’s side in a magnificent season for the Arsenalistas. Once a disciplinary liability in his earlier years at Marítimo, since making the move north last July he has improved vastly in this facet of his game and formed effective partnerships with both Ricardo Ferreira and Bruno Viana. He even managed the highly unusual feat for a centre-back of providing three assists in the same match in a 5-1 demolition of Paços Ferreira in April.
Defensive midfield - Danilo (Porto)
Perhaps a slightly controversial choice here in the context of him missing the final three and a half months of the season due to injury, but there is no doubting that Porto’s Danilo Pereira is one of the finest defensive midfielders in the country. Up until a calf problem effectively ended his season in January, Danilo once again continued his exceptional consistency at the base of Porto’s midfield. Positioning, athleticism and passing all at such a high level, and his absence was felt as Sérgio Conceição’s side stumbled on multiple occasions after his injury, most notably when Liverpool brutally exposed his absence in a 5-0 Champions League thrashing at Estádio do Dragão in February.
Heartbreakingly after making a brief comeback from the calf issue, Danilo’s World Cup dreams were ended in April after suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon in training. He would have been a certainty for the Portugal squad if fit, and a potential move to a larger European giant has now been scuppered with a number of top Premier League clubs reportedly keeping a keen eye on the 26-year-old.
Central midfield - Bruno Fernandes (Sporting)
Arguably the signing of the season, Sporting signed Bruno Fernandes from Sampdoria for what now seems a snip at around €9m, with his value since skyrocketing after a magnificent personal season for Jorge Jesus’ side. Two stunning goals from long range in an August demolition of Vitória Guimarães proved to be a sign of things to come, the 23-year-old demonstrating superb shooting prowess from distance throughout the campaign. Sporting’s season very publicly derailed in the latter stages but Fernandes’ form has been a particular highlight of a challenging campaign. He has made the 23-man squad for Portugal at the World Cup this summer, in which his reported suitors Liverpool and Tottenham will be reserving special attention, particularly with the player reportedly keen to move on from the club due to the aforementioned drama surrounding Sporting at present.
Attacking midfield - Shoya Nakajima (Portimonense)
Cheating a little bit here slightly as Nakajima has been used largely from the left flank this season but he is certainly capable of playing more centrally and his natural tendencies as a player are to drift between both roles. What is certain though is that the Japanese international has been one of the most exciting players to watch in Portugal, constantly impressing for Portimonense as they comfortably sealed their top-flight status after promotion to the Liga NOS last summer. His diminutive stature makes him incredibly difficult for defenders to track, and Nakajima made the tricky transition from FC Tokyo to Portugal’s Algarve look remarkably simple. His statistics back up his electric performances too, chipping in with 10 goals and 13 assists in his 33 matches in all competitions.
Right wing - Moussa Marega (Porto)
Possibly the season’s most surprising success story. Marega was clearly a talent, as evidenced by a highly successful loan spell at Vitória Guimarães in 2016/17. Nevertheless, after returning to Porto last summer, it seemed he might struggle to make an impact after a limited role in a delayed start to pre-season under a seemingly unconvinced Sérgio Conceição. However, he took advantage of an injury to initial number one striker Tiquinho Soares in the opening game of the season, scoring twice off the bench against Estoril and he became immoveable from the XI from then onwards.
Marega proved vital with 23 goals and 8 assists throughout the season, but also for his ability to be equally comfortable as a central striker or on the right wing, the latter of which was particularly useful away from home. Many had doubts that Marega was cut out for Porto’s level, but he has emphatically proved the doubters wrong, and is set to spark a bidding war for his services across Europe this summer.
Left wing - Yacine Brahimi (Porto)
Porto’s Algerian winger has long been one of the most talented individuals in Portugal but had his best season with club in 2017/18, which just happened to coincide with his first major silverware achieved with the Dragões. A superb dribbler of the ball, he added more of an end-product to his game this time around with 12 goals and 10 assists as he regularly terrified defences up and down the country. With the dependable Alex Telles behind him on the left flank, Brahimi was left free to link up and contribute to Porto’s free scoring attack and show everyone why he is so highly regarded in the division.
Striker - Jonas (Benfica)
The Brazilian veteran may have ended the season without any team honours, but it was another outstanding showing of goal-scoring prowess from Benfica’s number 10 as he took home the golden boot. 34 goals from 30 league games tells its own story, but it’s not just the goals that the 34-year-old brings to the table. Jonas has become one of Benfica’s biggest personalities since his free transfer move from Valencia back in 2014, and it’s no coincidence that their title dreams died during his four-match absence late in the season due to a back injury, a run that included two devastating losses at home: first to eventual champions Porto, and then a stunning upset at the hands of Tondela. The years are advancing and the temples are ever greying for Jonas but he remains the deadliest marksman in Portugal.
GK: Matheus (Braga), Rui Patrício (Sporting)
DEF: Yuri Ribeiro (Rio Ave), Felipe (Porto), Rúben Dias (Benfica), Marcelo (Rio Ave)
By Jamie Farr