The Primeira Liga gets back up and running on Wednesday June 3rd after nearly three months without action.
The Portuguese top-flight is just one of a number of European leagues resuming play after major sporting activity was halted across the continent in mid-March.
In Germany the Bundesliga returned to action last month, while in England, the Premier League has been pencilled in for a June 17 restart.
And while it appears that both of those titles have been wrapped up by Bayern Munich and Liverpool respectively, in Portugal the landscape in the upper reaches is anything but a foregone conclusion.
Just the single point separates the top two, while there is still plenty to play for at the foot of the table and in the race for European qualification. This is a league where anything is possible in the next 10 games…
State of play
A vintage O Classico title race
- Porto – 60 points
- Benfica – 59 points
- Braga – 46 points
- Sporting CP – 42 points
When we think of Portuguese football we of course think of Porto and Benfica. These two powerhouses are synonymous with the Primeira Liga, while their sour-blooded rivalry transcends the turf. The O Classico is a footballing conflict steeped in political and cultural connotations between Portugal’s two largest cities and the country’s two most decorated clubs.
Of course, Sporting CP are in the conversation, but for the most part — and particularly this season — the Porto-Benfica rivalry is the main attraction. In fact, these two clubs have monopolised the Primeira Liga title for nearly two decades, with the last club other than Porto or Benfica to clinch top-flight silverware coming in 2002.
For 18 years Porto and Benfica have been fighting tooth and nail for domestic supremacy, and this year offers one of the fiercest title races since the dramatic 2012/13, game-defining, season. Just before the campaign came to a stop, Sergio Conceicao’s Dragons were leading their adversaries by just the single point.
Bruno Lage’s side have lost just three times this season, with two of those defeats coming at the hands of Porto, who claimed a 3-2 win on home turf at the start of February and a 2-0 victory at the Estadio da Luz back in August.
With both clubs out of European football for the remainder of the 2019/20 season, everything will be put into this title race. They will also meet each other in Taca de Portugal final, though it has already been confirmed the showpiece event at the Estadio Nacional will be played behind closed doors.
Wednesday 3rd June
- Portimonense vs Gil Vicente (19:00)
- Famalicao vs Porto (21:15)
Thursday 4th June
- Maritimo vs Vitoria de Setubal (19:00)
- Benfica vs Tondela (19:15)
- Vitoria de Guimaraes vs Sporting CP (21:15)
Friday 5th June
- Santa Clara vs Braga (19:00)
- Desportivo das Aves vs Belenenses (21:15)
Saturday 6th June
- Boavista vs Moreirense (21:15)
Sunday 7th June
- Rio Ave vs Pacos de Ferreira (21:00)
How to live stream Primeira Liga fixtures
bet365 are live streaming a selection of Primeira Liga fixtures for the remainder of the 2019/20 season. Here’s how you can access fixtures being livestreamed on the bet365 platform:
- Go to bet365 via this link
- Register for an account
- Make a deposit to unlock the live stream sections of the site
- Head to the live stream section of the site
- Watch your chosen game live
NB: To watch, customers must have a funded Sports account or have placed bet within last 24 hours. 18+ | T&C’s Apply | Gamble Responsibly | Geo restrictions apply. These odds and promotions are valid at the time of the writing of this article on Tuesday, June 2nd at 11:30 GMT.
Fight for fourth: Sporting CP looking over their shoulder?
Unless things take a dramatic twist, Braga look certain to secure Europa League qualification, with the Archbishops currently seven points adrift of the top two but eights points clear of fifth. The same perhaps cannot be said of Sporting CP, though.
Portugal‘s third-most successful club are certainly looking over their shoulder with Rio Ave and Vitoria de Guimaraes just four and five points behind them respectively. That slight point advantage is amplified when looking at this week’s fixture list: Vitoria de Guimaraes vs Sporting CP.
— Sporting Clube de Portugal (@Sporting_CP) June 1, 2020
A win for the home side would reduce the gap to just two points, while if Rio Ave can secure maximum reward against relegation-threatened Pacos de Ferreira on Sunday, then there would be just the single point in this race for continental football.
Of course, Ruben Amorim can dispel those uncertainties with a win over Vitoria de Guimaraes, but that is a task made all the more difficult without former talisman and still the club’s top scorer this season Bruno Fernandes, who left for Man Utd in January.
Famalicao are also in the equation, level on 37 points with Vitoria de Guimaraes, but a tricky match-up against Porto on Wednesday could see them suffer a setback.
Relegation battle: Portimonense and Desportivo das Aves in real danger
At the foot of the table things aren’t quite as intense as the Premier League or Bundesliga with six points separating Portimonense from safety, while basement club Desportivo das Aves have accumulated just 13 points this term and sit nine points away from retaining their top-flight status.
Portimonense, who boast ex-West Ham frontman Ricardo Vaz Te, one-time Atletico Madrid superstar Jackson Martinez and Luis Boa Morte’s nephew, Aylton, will need to start picking up points or risk the chasm between themselves and Pacos de Ferreira widening.
Ones to watch
Francisco Trincao: The 20-year-old creative winger has already been snapped up by Barcelona for an exceptionally handsome fee so now is your chance to catch a glimmer of his nascent career in his homeland before he relocates to the hallowed Camp Nou turf. Blessed with trickery and a vast attacking repertoire, Trincao can really make things tick for Braga and elevates their frontline with his balletic gait and slaloming runs.
Adel Taarabt: The mercurial Moroccan has been plying his trade at Benfica since 2015, but only now is he beginning to showcase the sort of quality that kept QPR fans off their seats at Loftus Road. Despite building a reputation for his tricks and flicks in an advanced role, Taarabt has been reinvented this season as a deep-lying No.6 in Bruno Lage’s system, and the results have been eye-catching to say the least…
Fast forward to 2020, Adel Taarabt has the highest possession won in the middle ⅓ average per 90 minutes (5.56) in the 2019/20 Primeira Liga.
A completely new player. pic.twitter.com/AcmlKJaMAa
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 9, 2020
Marcus Edwards: The London-born attacker took the plunge and left the comforts of Tottenham for Portuguese football last summer, and that bold decision has certainly been vindicated. A diminutive and skilful winger, Edwards was tipped for big things in north London, but with opportunities scarce in the rich world of Premier League football he has been excelling and strutting his stuff at the Estadio D. Afonso Henriques.
Toni Martinez: Look away now West Ham fans. Many were crying out for the young Spaniard to get a look in with the club almost consistently misfiring in the No. 9 role, but the acquisition of Sebastien Haller pretty much signalled his exit from east London. Now plying his trade at Famalicao, his eight goals — making him the joint-fourth highest scorer this season — are one of the main reasons his side are in the top-four conversation.
Jackson Martinez: Once tipped to transform Atletico Madrid upon signing from Porto in 2015, the Colombian has been plagued by injuries over the years and is now battling it out for relegation at the foot of the table. The 33-year-old has already hinted that this will be his last season, such has been the toll of his injury problems, so now could be your final chance to catch the marksman in action before those prolific boots are hung up.
Alex Telles: Having been linked with a move to the Premier League, with Chelsea seemingly frontrunners for his signature, the buccaneering Brazilian left-back is extraordinarily Porto’s top goalscorer this season on eight goals. Granted, five of those have come from the penalty spot and two from set-pieces, but it seems almost ludicrous that Porto currently occupy the top spot with their top scorer a defender on eight goals.
21 – FC Porto have scored 21 goals from set pieces in the Primeira Liga this season; more than any other side. Lab. pic.twitter.com/fUk4mMetZ9
— OptaJoao (@OptaJoao) April 10, 2020
Carlos Vinicius: There are echoes of Benfica legend Oscar Cardozo in Vinicius, with both boasting a powerful frame and an eye for goal. Signed from Napoli in the summer, the hulking Brazilian was transformed from centre-back to centre-forward during his embryonic years and it certainly shows, as his hold-up play is second to none, while he currently leads the Primeira Liga scoring charts on 15 goals.
Julian Weigl: That Pep Guardiola is a fan and has courted the German in the past tells you all you need to know about Weigl’s ability. Signed from Borussia Dortmund in January, this was certainly an eye-catching, almost out of the blue transfer, but one that could take Benfica to the next level. Weigl never really fulfilled his potential with BVB but if Benfica can accentuate his maximum form then they pose Porto a real threat in this two-horse race.
Yannick Bolasie: Ever wonder what happened to this tricky winger? After seeing his Everton career derailed by injury problems, Bolasie has been slowly building his reputation back with loan spells abroad, first with Anderlecht and now Sporting CP. He still boasts an excellent range of flip-flaps and step-overs, and on his day there are few full-backs who can rival his deceptive wing-play.