The feel-good story of Portuguese football this season
There have been some truly fascinating stories for Portuguese football this season - from the breakthrough of young Portuguese stars such as João Felix and Rafael Leão to the success of Wolverhampton Wanderers in the English Premier League.
But one team’s incredible exploits this season and vast overachieving cannot go unnoticed, and merits detailed discussion due to its truly extraordinary nature and sheer unexpectedness.
We are, of course, referring to the rise of Moreirense, who have been nothing short of stunning all season. before the campaign began, you wouldn’t have to look very far to find fans of the Portuguese game who would put their money on Moreirense being relegated, let alone well above midtable and battling it out to be the best of the rest in the Portuguese game.
Based in a town with a population of just under 5,000 - that’s smaller than the Havant and Waterlooville stadium for some context for fans of English football - Moreirense are a club with minimal pedigree and a stadium that is nearly double the size of its local population (9,000).
Success has come their way though, lifting Portugal's secondary cup competition - the Taça da Liga - in 2017. But this season could at the very least match that triumph if they continue in this manner.
Currently sitting 5th in the league table, 3 points ahead of their nearest rivals Vitoria Guimarães and only 4 points behind Sporting (albeit having played a game more), their season has been scarcely believable - and the prospect of earning Europa League football for the first time in the club's entire history is becoming increasingly likely.
With goals spread out across the squad, it has certainly been a team effort to get Moreirense to where they are now, with narrow victories being crucial in giving them a platform to build a successful season.
Heriberto Tavares, a Benfica loanee and one of the lower level players we suggested you keep an eye on from the Portuguese league this season, is the side's top scorer, finding the net five times so far in 19 outings from the wing.
But someone who deserves significant praise and attention is no doubt the manager, Mr Ivo Vieira. Despite overseeing Estoril's relegation from Portugal's top flight last season, he has managed to instill a confidence in the side that has given them the belief that they can overcome any team, shown by their most recent result; an impressive 1-1 draw against reigning champions Porto.
They also pushed Sporting close this season, only falling to a narrow 2-1 defeat, and toppled Benfica at the Luz in a shock 3-1 away victory. Ivo Vieira is undoubtedly the mastermind behind this success as they look to push heavy favourites Guimarães all the way for that lucrative fifth spot in the Portuguese game.