With just 9 games to go in the season, the Portuguese top flight is certainly at its climax and could not be more mouthwatering. Defending champions Benfica sits atop the standing while traditional powerhouse Sporting Lisbon is just 2 points adrift with FC Porto 6 points off top spot. There are 27 points to be won and there could be several twists and turn but this is perhaps the most exciting end to any season in Portugal with the top three all in with a chance to be champions.
Benfica, who has secured a placed in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, is perhaps the most entertaining and exciting to watch. The Eagles have scored the most goals in the competition thus far (66) while also proving to be quite balanced conceding just 17 times in their 25 fixtures. Their Brazilian striker Jonas Oliveira has been outstanding with 26 goals while Greek striker Kostas Mitroglou and new sensation Renato Sanches has been in great form for Rui Vitoria’s men. Vitoria will be happy with his current position however he will know that there are no margins for error in the final weeks of the title race.
Dumped from the Europa League by an excellent Borussia Dortmund team, Porto has seen their dominance ended by the Eagles and they could be without the title for the third season running. With the second best attack in the league and the fourth best defensive record behind Sporting, Benfica and Braga respectively the Dragons have quite a bit of catching up to do. Relatively new boss Jose Peseiro will need his wealth of experience to try close the gap as they are still very much in contention.
Cameroonian striker Vincent Aboubakar has been their leading light with 11 goals to his name. In midfield Mexican dictator Hector Herrera has been in fine form while the likes of Danilo Pereira and Yacine Brahimi has been doing the business at the Estadio do Dragao. Mexican playmaker Jesus Corona also deserved to be mentioned with his 7 goals, eye-catching displays and seems to be improving all the time.
As ever, Sporting Lisbon is in the mix and with their great defensive record seems to be in for huge shout for the title. The Lions have not tasted league glory since 2002 and this could very well be their best chance and this will definitely be in the back of their minds. Algerian forward Islam Slimani has been carrying the torch for Sporting with 18 goals, the second highest in the league. Skipper and midfield maestro Adrien Silva has been top quality this season and has been quite influential in attack with 7 goals. William Carvalho has done his reputation no harm this season and has even extended his deal at the Estadio Jose Alvalade until June 2020.
Costa Rican skipper Bryan Ruiz has been settling well at Sporting and is fast becoming an influential figure at the club. The experience Alberto Aquilani has not had the impact he would have hoped however he could prove to be crucial in the upcoming weeks as his ‘know-how’ and cool head can make a difference.
Of the three contenders it seems Benfica has a more suitable run-in and will fancy their chances as Sporting and Porto still has to play each other. Sporting seems to have the more difficult games in the coming weeks with away fixtures to Porto as well as Braga on the final match day. It will be a difficult fixture away at the Estadio do Dragao as Porto has the best home defensive record in the league and lost only once there in the season. Sporting can look at Porto and Benfica’s away fixture at Rio Ave as a potential banana skin for them. Benfica also has a tricky fixture away to Maritimo which could also add to the twists expected in this exciting run to the finish line.
The Portuguese Superliga may not be one of the most fancied leagues however the entertainment and quality of football has always been quite good. This time around the race might go down to the wire which of course makes for great anticipation from the neutrals. Porto may be the outside favourites but has enough championship pedigree to peg back their rivals. Sporting is perhaps the most hungry of the three while champions Benfica must be feeling the heat on their shoulders but like true champions they could hold their nerve and cross the finish line in front.