The Portuguese Liga, currently named BWINLIGA after its main sponsor, is the league competition for Portuguese professional football clubs located at the top of the Portuguese football league system, making it Portugal's primary football competition.
The Liga is presently contested by sixteen clubs each season, but only five of them have won the title. Currently in its 73rd edition (counting four provisional championships in the 30's) the competition is dominated by the so called "big three"; (Benfica, FC Porto and Sporting Portugal), who have a total of 71 titles, with Belenenses and Boavista winning the other two.
History Before the Portuguese football reform of 1938, an experimental competition on a round-basis was already being held — the Primeira Liga (Premier League) and the winners of that competition were named League Champions. Despite that, a Portuguese Championship in a knock-out cup format was the most popular and defined the Portuguese Champion.
Then, with the reform, a round-basis competition was implemented as the most important of the calendar and began defining the Portuguese champion. From 1938 to 2000 the name Campeonato Nacional da Primeira Divisão (National Championship of the First Division), or just Primeira Divisão (First Division) was used. When the LPFP took control of the two nationwide leagues in 1999 it was renamed Campeonato Nacional da Primeira Liga (Premier League National Championship), or simply Primeira Liga (Premier League), and after Galp acquired the naming rights in 2002, SuperLiga Galp Energia. However a four year deal with the Austrian sports betting web portal bwin was announced on 18 August 2005, amid questioning by the other gambling authorities in Portugal.
Competition From the 2006-07 season on there are 16 clubs in the Portuguese Liga, down from 18 in the previous seasons. During the course of a season each club plays the others twice, once at their home stadium and once at their opponent's, for a total of 30 games. At the end of each season, the two lowest placed teams are relegated to the Liga de Honra, and the top two teams from Liga de Honra are promoted to the Portuguese Liga.
Currently, the top three teams in the Liga qualify for the UEFA Champions League. The top two teams go straight into the group phase. The third placed team enters the competition at the third qualifying round, and must survive a two-legged knockout tie in order to enter the group phase. The teams classified in fourth and fifth enter the UEFA Cup together with the winner of the Cup of Portugal. If the winner of the Cup of Portugal is already qualified for the Champions League, or would be qualified for the UEFA Cup by its league position, the runner-up will occupy the spot in the UEFA Cup. If the runner-up is also qualified for European competition through its league position, the spot is given to the 6th-placed team in the Liga. The 6th-placed team is allowed to play in the UEFA Intertoto Cup, but when it plays in the UEFA Cup because of the situation above, then, the spot is taken by the 7th-placed team.
Champions since 1990 1989/90 F.C. Porto 1990/91 S.L. Benfica 1991/92 F.C. Porto 1992/93 F.C. Porto 1993/94 S.L. Benfica 1994/95 F.C. Porto 1995/96 F.C. Porto 1996/97 F.C. Porto 1997/98 F.C. Porto 1998/99 F.C. Porto 1999/00 Sporting C.P 2000/01 Boavista F.C 2001/02 Sporting C.P 2002/03 F.C. Porto 2003/04 F.C. Porto 2004/05 S.L. Benfica 2005/06 F.C. Porto 2006/07 F.C. Porto 2007/08 F.C Porto 2008/09 F.C Porto
At the end of the first half of the season A familiarity had returned to the top of the division after Leixoes had lead the league for a while. Benfica and Porto went into Christmas in the lead. In Europe Sporting had surprised most people by qualifying for the Champions League knock out stages, finishing runners up to Barcelona in the Group Stages. There, they will meet Bayern Munich, whilst Porto who won their group played Atletico Madrid.
In the end the spoils went to Porto for the fourth consecutive season after winning thirteen out of their last fifteen games. Sporting Lisbon ran them close, finishing four points behind whilst Benfica were a further seven points behind. Belenenses, one of only five teams to have ever won the title were relegated on the last day, and were replaced by Olhanense who play their football in the Algarve, and will use the Faro stadium next season. An event sadder situation played out at once great Boavista who were relegated as part of the Golden Whistle investigation in 2008 and then finishing second from bottom last season and will now play their football in the regional leagues next season. Porto also won the cup, beating Pacos Ferreira 1-0 in the final.
Current clubs in Portuguese BWINLIGA...For a better view of who plays where go to Footiemap.com.
Associação Académica de Coimbra Clube de Futebol. Coimbra are a relatively new team in the league. Last season they finished 13th. Their stadium, the Cidade de Coimbra, pictured left, was rebuilt as a 30,000 all seater venue for Euro2004.
Sport Lisboa e Benfica. Also known as the as the Stadium light, the 65,000 seater stadium is home to the once mighty Benfica. The stadium, pictured left, hosted the final of Euro2004 when the host nation lost to Greece. Click here for details on Lisbon.
Sporting Clube de Braga. One of the futuristic venues for football in Europe as the stadium was constructed as a 30,000 all seater venue for Euro 2004, borne out of a rocky hillside as you can see on the left. The stadium, pictured left is home to Sporting Braga who have slowly become one of the big 4 in Portuguese football.
Clube de Futebol Estrela da Amadora. Located just outside Lisbon, Amadora have struggled to make an impact on the BWin league, finishing in 10th place last season. Their Estadio Jose Gomes is an open air venue, as you can see from the picture on the left and holds 20,600. Ticket cost €20. Get the train to Comboio Reboleira and it’s a 5 minute walk from there. You can see the ground from out side the station. Not many places to get anything to eat but loads to buy beer! A small club shop by the ground and it’s very easy to get tickets.
C.D Trofense - Estadio des Clube Desportivo - Capacity 3,126. More commonly known just by Trofense is a Portuguese sports club from the city of Trofa, founded in 1930. In the 2005-2006 season, Trofense played in the Portuguese Second Division Serie A, which they won by a margin of 6 points. They progressed to a playoff that decided promotion to the second division, with Serie B winners AD Lousada. Trofense won in a very emotional game, only decided on the 20th penalty, scored by goalkeeper Vítor. In 2007-08 (having finished 11th in the league the previous season), Trofense achieved a first ever promotion to the first division.
Leixões Sport Club - Back in the top division after a 18 year break, Leixoes are one of the favourites for relegation this season. Their best ever season was in 1961/62 when they finished in 5th place. Their Estadio do Mar in Matosinhos holds just over 8,000 fans.
Clube Desportivo Nacional "da Madeira" - One of the two teams who play in Funchal in Maderia, some hundreds of miles away from the mainland in the Atlantic Ocean. The club's most famous ever player is Christiano Ronaldo who started his career here. They play at the intimate Estadio de Maderia which holds just over 8,500 fans.
Club Sport Marítimo - The second team from Funchal in Maderia, Maritimo have had the upper hand on their island rivals in terms of on field success including half a dozen UEFA Cup campaigns, the latest one in 2003/04. They play at the 9,000 capacity Estadio dos Barrerios.
Associação Naval 1º de Maio - Promoted to the top league for the first time in 2005, Foz as they are more commonly known (as they come from the town of Figueira da Foz) finished 11th last season. They have a great rivalry with Leiria. They play at the 12,600 capacity Estadio Municipal Jose Bento Pessoa.
Futebol Clube Paços de Ferreira - Currently enjoying an extended run in the top division, and will soon move into a new 25,000 all seater stadium to replace their old and crumbling 15,000 capacity Estadio da Mata Real.
Futebol Clube do Porto. The most successful team in the country over the past 20 years, with 14 League titles and a UEFA Cup and Champions League Trophy. They play at the Estadio Dragao which holds 50,000, pictured left. Details about football in Porto can be found here.
Sporting Clube de Portugal The final part of the trio of great clubs in Portuguese footballing history, although their success recently has been thin on the ground. They have also won a couple of European trophies. They play at the Alvalade Stadium, pictured left, which was rebuilt into a 50,000 all seater arena for the Euro2004 championships. The stadium also hosted the 2005 UEFA Cup final.Click here for details on Lisbon.
Rio Ave FC - Estadio de Rio Ave - Capacity 12,815. Hailing from the north of Portugal in a town called Vila de Conde, Rio Ave were promoted back to the top division at the end of 2007/08 season.
Vitória Sport Clube "de Guimarães" . Back in the top division after a brief interlude in the 2nd division. They are one of the oldest and most respected teams in the country. They also had their stadium, the Alfonso Henriques, pictured left, rebuilt as a 30,000 all seater venue for Euro 2004. Takes 1 hour 15 minutes on the metro from Porto. 20 minutes walk from the station. Match Ticket cost €15. Good atmosphere for Portugal. A big club shop by the ground
Vitória Futebol Clube "de Setúbal" . The club are known more for their successful UEFA Cup campaigns where they have four times reached the quarter finals. League form has been a little more patchy and a 3rd place finish is the best they have ever managed. Their Estadio do Bonfirm holds 21,500 and pictured left. The stadium is a 10 minutes walk from bus station or 15 from town centre. It’s on the main road next to the bus station. You should see it as soon as you are on it. Avenida Alexandre Herculano is the road. People are friendly and if you like fish then it’s a great place to go. A very good club shop and the staff are very helpful. It's Jose Mourinho's team in Portugal.
Belenenses - Estadio do Restelo - Capacity - 32,500 All Seater Get off at Belem train station and you will see the ground behind the court house. Train costs €2 return and takes 10 minutes from Lisbon. It’s on the Estoril line. Ticket cost €20. No atmosphere. Good club shop and the staff were very helpful. Easy to get tickets. Only 2 sides of the ground open. They only get 3,000 there in a 33,000 ground.
The following clubs were relegated as at the end of the 2007/08 season.
União Desportiva de Leiria. If honours were given out for impressive stadiums, then Leiria would win each year hands down. The small club gained the amazing Municipal Stadium, pictured left for the Euro2004 Tournament.
Boavista Futebol Clube. Porto's second club threatened to break the big 3 monolopy during the 1990's as they took the title. Their Estadio de Bessa stadium was rebuilt for the Euro2004 tournament as a 30,000 all seater stadium. The stadium is pictured left when Spain played Greece.More details about the club, stadium and football in Porto can be found by clicking here. The club were relegated for their part in the match fixing scandal.
Pictures on this page are courtosey of WorldStadiums.com except Benfica, Coimbra, Boavista, Benfica, Sporting Lisbon and Leiria which are provided by GTC Media.