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Portuguese League Roundup

By | 21st May 2009

portoWith one week left in the Portuguese first division everything is pretty much decided. FC Porto has won their fourth straight league title and will play Pacos Ferreira in the final of the Taca de Portugal. Porto struggled early on, but after the midway point of the season they took control and cruised along to another title. Porto had some new faces make some important contributions to the team, most notably Hulk (forward), Fernando (holding midfield), Rolando (center back), and Cissokho (left back). By winning the league title Porto automatically qualifies for next season’s Champions League.

Second place went to Sporting. Sporting’s biggest fault this year was consistency. The team failed to play well on a weekly basis. This was especially true when they were destroyed by Bayern Munich in the Champions League Round of 16. Sporting has many questions in regards to next year with the likely departure of its two biggest stars Joao Moutinho (Everton has been very interested) and Miguel Veloso (has attracted the attention of Arsenal). With the second place finish Sporting qualifies for the 3rd round of Champions League qualification.

Benfica finished in 3rd place and once again has missed out on the Champions League. They will be playing in the new Europa League (the UEFA Cup, but UEFA decided to be stupid and change the name, but that’s the subject of another article that will soon be posted). Benfica went into the season with high hopes after some big spending during the summer (Jose Reyes anyone?) and the introduction of Quique Flores as manager. Although the team was in first at the mid way point of the year they struggled mightily during the second half.

In 4th and 5th place respectively were Nacional and Braga who will both be competing in the Europa League. Braga was able to qualify for the last 16 this year and should have another strong run again next year. In the relegation battle are Belenenses, Vitoria Setubal, and Trofense. Trofense and Belenenses are likely to go down. In the second division Olhanense has secured promotion and the last spot is up for grabs between Azorean side Santa Clara and Uniao Leiria. Santa Clara controls its destiny and will gain promotion with a win this weekend. Overall it was another exciting year in the Portuguese league, which by the way can be enjoyed over on ESPN360. Can’t wait until next year!

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