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Sporting are Having an AMAZING Season in the Portuguese League

6 minute read Published March 21, 2024

Every year, the Portuguese league produces some of the best talents in football. The Portuguese relation with Brazil as well as other South American countries means it’s an easy transition to European football for many players.

They’ll usually make their way to one of the top five leagues through one of three teams; Benfica, Porto or Sporting CP.

And, for more than two decades the league has been absolutely dominated by these three teams. Since 2001/2002 when Boavista won the league, no team other than those three have won it. In fact, since then, these three teams together have only seven finishes outside of the top three. That means they’ve gotten 59 out of a possible 66 top threes. 

  Winner Runner-up Third Top 3 Missed
Porto 12 6 4 22 0
Benfica 8 7 5 20 2
Sporting CP 2 7 8 17 5

Porto hasn’t missed the top three at all, Benfica only twice. And then there’s Sporting CP. There’s no doubt they’re part of the dominant three, they’ve as many second place finishes as other teams have top threes together.

Yet, they’re always that one step behind. They’ve as many, and more, second and third place finishes as the other two, but they just can’t seem to win it. The perennial little brother to the two Portuguese giants. The third team in the league and the second team in Lisbon.

This season however, they’re looking unstoppable. Top of the league, seven points clear of Porto and one of Benfica, with a game in hand. With eight games to go, Sporting looks like they have an edge over their tormentors. Finally.

Position Team Games GD Points
1 Sporting 25 50 65
2 Benfica 26 39 64
3 Porto 26 32 58
4 Braga 26 21 53

It could be their second league title in four years. An unusual cadence for the Lisbon club. Could the tide have turned?

Viktor Gyökeres and the Sporting squad

This weekend Viktor Gyökeres scored a hattrick to become the first player in Europe's top league to reach 50 goals and assists. The Swede joined from Coventry in the summer for a record transfer fee of €25 million. For a player with one good season in the Championship and just a year left on his contract, it was a big risk for the Lisbon club.

At Coventry last season, it was evident that he was a level above the rest of the team. Together with Gustavo Hamer, they single handedly pulled Coventry back into and won games. 

Viktor Gyökeres. Photo: PWFOTO-Pieter vd Woude, Shutterstock

What’s extra impressive about Gyökeres is his physicality. At 6’2” and built like a bodybuilder, he’s still fast and agile. He barely gets injured. This season, he’s played the most minutes out of any Sporting player and he constantly plays with high intensity.

And it’s not just Gyökeres who’s making a difference. Among the Sporting players, many have garnered interest from the biggest clubs in Europe. Defensively, both centre back Goncalo Inacio, and Danish defensive midfielder Morten Hjulmand are in demand. Pedro Goncalves and Paulinho have both contributed double digit goals.

Last winter, Sporting brought Trincao back to Portugal. The 24 year old joined Barcelona from Braga in 2020 but never managed to break into the starting eleven. After a somewhat disappointing loan spell at Wolves in the Premier League, Barcelona ultimately decided to cut their losses. After joining Sporting, however, the young winger seems to have found his feet again.

Ruben Amorim

Off the field, Ruben Amorim is equally in demand. The former Benfica player has had a meteoric rise as a manager in Portugal. After hanging up his boots in 2016 he went on to become manager of Casa Pia in 2018. He was only in charge for four games until he was found to be giving instructions without the proper coaching badges. Amorim resigned and, after turning down the chance to coach the Benfica U23s, took the reins of Bragas B team. 

After just three months, he was promoted to head coach and managed Bragas first team from December until the end of the season. During this brief spell at Braga he managed to win the league cup as well as beat Benfica away for the first time in 65 years.

Ruben Amorim. Maciej Rogowski, Shutterstock

Amorim is known for a very intense defence, controlling the centre of the pitch out of possession. In attack they’re very fluid and while the wingers stay wide, full backs come in to attack the channels.

He’s been one of the hottest prospects to take over for Jurgen Klopp and his name has been tossed around as the replacement to Ten Hag at Manchester United, should the dutchman get the sack.

Tough run-in

While Sporting are currently top of the league, they do have a very tough schedule to end the season. The Lisbon club will have to play both local rivals Benfica, as well as Porto before the season is over. 

After losing to Arsenal on penalties in the Round of 16, Porto are now out of the Champions League and can put their full attention towards the domestic league.

Benfica are still in both the league cup and the Europa League and will have their attention on multiple targets. They are, however, just a point behind Sporting, albeit with a game more played. Porto trail Benfica by six points, so while they’re now laser focused, Port have some ground to make up.

End to the season

For the little brother of Portuguese football, this is as good a chance that they’ll get to win the league. They’ll have to fend off a Benfica that are hot on their heels, as well as a Porto that have won more than half of the Portuguese league titles in the last two decades.

This season is so important to Sporting. They've put together an amazing team and finally have a good chance at the title. Most likely, the team will be picked apart in the summer. Important players like Gyökeres and Hjulmand will leave and there's a good chance that Amorim does as well. This is their shot.

Before that though, later tonight, even the Sporting fans will get a taste of what it’s like to play against Gyökeres. Portugal play Sweden in a friendly at 19:45 (GMT).


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