The Portuguese season in numbers
With the season coming to an end, we decided to take a look at some of the numbers behind this year’s Primeira Liga campaign.
For the first time in nearly 55 years, we witnessed one of the most surreal matches you could possibly encounter, with Benfica getting into double digits as they trounced Nacional 10-0. The last time we saw a team score as many goals was back in 1965, when Benfica beat Seixal 11-3.
Ten goals, 8 different scorers, as centrebacks Ruben Dias and Ferro both got on the scoresheet to give Nacional a most unwanted place in the history books.
Nacional responded magnificently the week after though, putting 4 past Feirense in a 4-0 victory, although ultimately never recovered from that thumping at the hands of the Primeira Liga champions, slipping into the relegation zone shortly afterwards and never escaping again.
Benfica - 103
With that 10-0 in minds, it is no surprise to hear that Benfica managed to break the century mark for goals scored in the league, managing to get a total of 103 goals in total in the league season, a remarkable achievement that is testament to the attacking talent at their disposal.
It actually matches their record for most goals in a season, when they got the same total back in 1963-64. That time, however, it was done in just 26 league matches as opposed to the 34 played today. Still, highly impressive feat.
Indeed, Benfica scored at least 4 goals in 6 of their last 7 games, winning 4-1, 4-2, 6-0, 4-1, 5-1, 3-2 and 4-1 on their way to lifting the biggest prize in Portuguese football.
The gap - 15
Between the top 4 and the rest of the league, there was yet again a significant gulf in class - Braga in 4th amassed a total of 67 points, while Guimaraes in 5th earned a total of just 52.
However, the gap is closing. Compare that to last season when the gap was 24 and you see that the rest of the league weren’t quite as far off breaking into that established top 4 as they were this time last year.
Indeed, last campaign Braga finished 4th with 75 points. Compare that to this season, and they earned just 67 points, dropping considerably more points this time around against the teams below them in the table. Still a remarkable effort from a team on a fraction of the budget compared to the top 3, but going the wrong way in terms of breaking into the Champions League places.
Goalscorer - 12
The footballer playing outside of the top 4 teams in the country with the most Primeira Liga goals this season was none other than Tomane.
On the books of Tondela, his side only survived relegation on the very final day of the season thanks to an incredible 5-2 victory over Chaves to leapfrog their opponents and secure their Primeira Liga status.
How crucial Tomane’s goals were throughout this campaign. With 12 goals, he singlehandedly helped Tondela earn a handful of points that ultimately ensured Tondela preserved their place in Portugal’s top flight next season.
Bruno Fernandes - 50
This season, Bruno Fernandes directly contributed to 50 goals in 53 outings across all competitions, with 32 goals and 18 assists. An astonishing return for an attacking midfielder.
In the league alone, he had a direct hand in 33 goals, his presence on the pitch directly earning Sporting an extra 17 points in total. 17 points, singlehandedly earned by the Sporting star. To put that into context, Sporting only finished 7 points ahead of Braga, so his contribution was absolutely vital to help Sporting earn a 3rd place finish in the league.
Penalties - 15
However, things look a little less impressive when you then look at the number of penalties awarded to Sporting this season.
In a league where fans are sadly all too desperate to lambaste referees and scream corruption when decisions don’t go their way or when a rival wins the league, many may be surprised to hear that Sporting were actually awarded the most penalties in the league this season - and by some distance.
15 penalties in total were awarded to Sporting - the next highest being Vitoria Guimaraes, who received 10. Of all 25 penalties awarded to both those sides in total, all 25 were converted - compare that to Benfica, who had 9 penalties, but only converted 6.
Six of those Sporting penalties were scored by Bruno Fernandes, 8 by Bas Dost, and the other by Nani.
Penalties - 1
Remarkably, at the other end of the penalty table, Moreirense, who were in 5th place and in that “Best of the Rest” spot until the very last day of the season, received just 1 penalty call in their favour, making their exceptional season all the more remarkable.
Manager Ivo Vieira, who has since left the club, oversaw a hugely successful campaign at Moreirense, who achieved the highest top flight points tally in the club’s history.
Feirense - 7
After their first 3 games, Feirense were one of just 4 teams to be unbeaten, sitting joint top of the pile with 7 points from a possible 9. Not even Porto could make that claim, having already lost against Guimaraes, throwing away a 2 goal lead to lose 3-2. How costly that was now.
However, after getting 7 points in their first 3 games, Feirense then went on to earn just 13 points from their next 31. An atrocious run that ultimately saw them relegated with several games to spare, finishing bottom of the table with just 20 points and a -37 goal difference. A remarkable capitulation.
Tondela - 3
For the 3rd time in 4 years, Tondela achieved yet another “Great Escape”. The relegation experts kept their cool to beat Chaves 5-2 and ultimately stay up at the expense of their opponents. But this wasn’t even close to their most memorable survival battle.
Two seasons ago, for example, Tondela managed to escape relegation on the very last day of the season by virtue of goal difference, having been sitting in the relegation zone all 22 weeks before the final day of the season. A truly remarkable escape.
And, a year before that, in their first season ever in the top flight, they also performed miracles, this time surviving by just a single point, having been in the relegation zone for all 24 - yes, 24 - gameweeks before the last day. Tondela, the kings of surviving by the skin of their teeth, did it again.