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Season review: Portugal

Published: Tuesday 18 May 2010, 16.01CET
SL Benfica returned to rule the roost in Portugal in emphatic fashion this season, picking up a huge 76 points to wrest to title off FC Porto, who had to be content with glory in the cup.
by Pedro Gonçalves
from Lisbon
Season review: Portugal
Javier Saviola kisses the trophy after Benfica are confirmed as Portuguese champions ©Getty Images
Published: Tuesday 18 May 2010, 16.01CET

Season review: Portugal

SL Benfica returned to rule the roost in Portugal in emphatic fashion this season, picking up a huge 76 points to wrest to title off FC Porto, who had to be content with glory in the cup.

Looking for a fifth successive Liga crown, 2008/09 double winners FC Porto were to be upstaged by SL Benfica, with coach Jorge Jesus making waves after replacing Quique Sánchez Flores. The former SC Braga boss said at his unveiling he would be the 18th Benfica coach to win the title, and fulfilled that prophecy in his first season, claiming the League Cup as well as the Eagles' 32nd domestic championship.

Champions: SL Benfica
A total of 76 points would have guaranteed an early title celebration in most Portuguese seasons, but it took until the final day for Benfica to cross the finishing line. However, that did not take the gloss off a great season in which Jorge Jesus's side dropped just two points at home and lost only two of their 30 league games. With Porto dropping out of contention, Braga were to be Benfica's main challengers, finishing as runners-up to earn a UEFA Champions League qualifying place. Benfica were too strong for many of their opponents this season, scoring 78 goals in 30 games and conceding just 20, but perhaps their most telling success was a 1-0 win against Porto on 20 December; a sign their five-year wait for a title might soon be over.

Cup final: GD Chaves 1-2 FC Porto
Reaching their third successive final, Porto atoned for missing out on the league title by claiming a second Portuguese Cup in a row, though second-division Chaves made it tough at the Estádio Nacional. After an indifferent start, Porto capitalised on mistakes with first-half goals from Freddy Guarín and Falcao. Clemente's goal five minutes from time injected some urgency into the match, but there was to be no further drama.

European places*
SL Benfica – UEFA Champions League, group stage
SC Braga – UEFA Champions League, third qualifying round
FC Porto – UEFA Europa League, play-off
Sporting Clube de Portugal – UEFA Europa League, third qualifying round
CS Marítimo – UEFA Europa League, second qualifying round
*Subject to final confirmation from UEFA

Player of the Year: David Luiz (SL Benfica)
For UEFA.com's Portuguese editors, the 23-year-old David Luiz was the start of the show after an amazing campaign at Benfica. One of the pillars of the champions' team, the central defender demonstrated pace, vision, anticipation, technique and leadership. In his fourth season at Estádio da Luz, he only missed one Liga match, scored three times, and was a key figure in Benfica's progress to the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals.

One to watch: Fábio Coentrão (SL Benfica)
The 22-year-old had a hard time settling in following his arrival in 2007, spending time on loan with CD Nacional, Real Zaragoza and his old side, Rio Ave FC. However, the left-sided midfielder proved his class this season in a left-back role, doing enough to impress national-team coach Carlos Queiroz, who handed him his first cap. He was the only player in the Benfica squad to feature in Portugal's provisional FIFA World Cup squad.

Surprise package: SC Braga
Eliminated in the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round by IF Elfsborg, Braga did not make a great start under new coach Domingos Paciência. Nevertheless, they went on to have a great season in the league; with their 71-point haul good enough to win the title in any of the ten previous seasons. However Benfica, under former Braga boss Jorge Jesus, outpaced them at the last.

Leading scorer: Óscar Cardozo, SL Benfica (26)

Relegated: Leixões SC, CF Os Belenenses

Promoted: SC Beira-Mar, Portimonense SC

Number: 124
The number of goals scored by Benfica in all official competitions this season, one of the highest totals in their history.

Quote
"Benfica have great individual players, but just like I do at every club I coach, this year they will be twice as good as they were last year. And probably the double is not enough. I came to make history at Benfica and I assure you that I will be the 18th coach to be a champion at this club."
Jorge Jesus sets out his stall after being named Benfica coach.

Last updated: 30/11/12 16.33CET

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