On June 3, the Portuguese Primeira Liga becomes the latest of Europe’s domestic divisions to emerge from the COVID-19 crisis when it gets its 2019/20 campaign back on track.
Nearly three months has passed since the last top-flight match was contested in Portugal on March 8, and from Cevide to Cabo de Santa Maria, excitement in the country has been steadily building ahead of Wednesday’s hugely significant first comeback fixture between Portimonense and Gil Vicente.
Ahead of the return of elite football in Portugal, we’ve put together a guide detailing the current state of play in the Primeira Liga.
Check it out below!
Remember – we’ll be covering all the action in detail with betting tips and match previews on our Primeira Liga predictions page.
The title race
Two of the three biggest clubs in Portugal, FC Porto and Benfica, have maintained a tight stranglehold over domestic football in their homeland for a generation.
In the last 17 Primeira Liga seasons, the heavyweights have been slugging it out for supremacy and silverware, with Benfica lifting the title seven times and Porto crowned champions on 10 occasions – and this year’s race for glory features the same two thoroughbreds.
As things stand, current title holders Benfica trail their traditional rivals by a single point, and with their nearest challengers Braga a further 13 points back, there is little danger of an outsider making a late charge to upset the established order.
While Porto hold the slightest advantage at the summit of the standings, Benfica hold the division’s best attacking and defensive records so far this term – but only just.
The clubs have already played each other twice this season, with Porto coming out on top in each contest, and while neutrals will be denied a late-campaign title deciding head-to-head, the climax to 2019/20 at the top end should be no less thrilling.
Europa League qualification
The Primeira Liga has two designated Europa League qualification positions (3rd and 4th) on offer for the division’s next best high fliers, and currently, Sporting Braga and Sporting CP are in the driving seat.
Braga, a full eight points clear of 5th, look home and hosed, though Sporting CP in 4th look a little more vulnerable with a buffer of just four points between them and Rio Ave just below them.
The Lions had just changed manager for the fourth time in 2019/20 just before football’s postponement in March, and without the talismanic performances of new Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes, Sporting looked worryingly low on quality and confidence in the run up to the enforced break.
In in an example of their declining potency, Sporting were turned over 3-1 in convincing fashion by an emerging and improving Famalicão side in their last away assignment before the hiatus.
The newly promoted Famalicão outfit, who currently occupy 7th place, are enjoying a fine first campaign back in the big time and could make a late dash for a continental qualification position.
Vitoria Guimaraes in 6th, who won three games on the bounce before play was halted, are also firmly in the mix. They butchered 10-man Famalicão 7-0 in a heavily one-sided fixture in February.
The race for survival
Two clubs will drop out of the Primeira Liga when the campaign finishes later this summer, and the identity of the demoted clubs already looks all but confirmed.
Desportivo Aves, who were beaten in 19 of their 24 league games this season, prop up the rest in the standings, a massive nine points from safety, while Portimonense, one place above them in 17th, have a sizeable six-point gap to overturn.
Interestingly, both clubs were promoted together back in 2017, however after a short stay at Portugese football’s top table, Desportivo Aves and Portimonense look like exiting the Primeira Liga simultaneously.
Who will be crowned top scorer?
This year’s Bola de Prata (Silver ball) award looks like being a straight head-to-head between Benfica clubmates Carlos Vinícius and Pizzi.
Brazilian centre-forward Carlos Vinícius notched 15 goals in 22 appearances for As Águias between August and March – a haul that puts him just one goal ahead of designated penalty taker and teammate Pizzi, who has 14 goals in 24 games.
Gil Vicente’s Sandro Lima, Braga’s Paulinho and Moreirense’s Fabio Abreu make up the chasing pack on 10 goals each, while league leading Porto’s top marksman so far in 2019/20 is Brazilian fullback Alex Telles, with a modest eight goal total.
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