Benfica’s shock home defeat by Tondela last weekend has virtually handed the Primeira Liga title to FC Porto who require just a point from their two remaining games against Feirense at home on Sunday and V.Guimarães away a week later.
Benfica, after having won the Primeira Liga title for a record four consecutive seasons, will now be hard pressed to hang-on to second place. On Saturday, the Eagles travel across the capital to take on arch-rivals Sporting at the Alvalade and victory for the home side would almost certainly guarantee them second place and automatic qualification to the UEFA Champions League play-offs.
Benfica would finish outside the top two for the first time in nine years and be consigned to the Europa League!
Champions-elect FC Porto are managed by 43-year-old Sérgio Conceição and to win the title in his first season at the helm would be some achievement. The former Portugal international was in charge of SC Olhanense five years ago and took them to a respectable eighth place in the top flight.
His captain during that time was Rui Duarte who is now guiding SC Farense towards promotion to the Segunda Liga, again his first campaign as boss.
Sérgio Conceição’s predecessor at Porto was Nuno Espírito Santo who joined English Championship outfit Wolverhampton Wanderers last year.
With six Portuguese players, including the sensational 21-year-old Rúben Neves, Wolves won the title comfortably and will be competing against the likes of Manchester City, Spurs and Mourinho’s Manchester United next season.
In October 2015, aged 18 years and 221 days, Neves became the youngest player to start as captain in the UEFA Champions League, helping Porto to a 2-0 win against Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Wolves top-scorer Diogo Jota, Ivan Cavaleiro, Roderick Miranda, Rúben Vinagre and Hélder Costa complete the sextet.
Olhanense fans will remember Hélder Costa for the hat-trick he scored when Benfica ‘B’ beat the Algarve side 5-1 a few seasons ago.
Sunday is a big day for the Faro outfit who play the first-leg of their Campeonato de Portugal play-off quarter-final at FC Felgueiras, north of Porto. The second-leg at the Estádio de São Luís, Faro (behind Faro Hospital) on May 13 kicks-off at 5pm. The winner of the quarter-final play-off will meet either Vilafranquense or FC Vizela at home on May 19 with the away leg on May 27 to decide who will be promoted to the Segunda Liga.
By CHRIS WRIGHT
Photo: FC Porto head coach Sérgio Conceição