It is their thirty-seventh title and their fifth in six years. Benfica swept aside Santa Clara at the Estádio da Luz to become Portuguese champions with goals from Seferovic (2), João Félix and Rafa Silva meaning that Porto’s comeback victory against Sporting was in vain as the Eagles finished on eighty-seven points, two ahead of their northern rivals.
At the turn of the year SC Portimonense secured a famous 2-0 victory against the Eagles, who dropped to fourth place some seven points behind FC Porto, culminating in manager Rui Vitória being shown the door and Bruno Lage taking charge on a temporary basis.
It is impossible to overstate the impact the former B-team coach has had on Benfica’s season. Under Rui Vitória the conservative brand of football, especially in the big matches, had never won over the Benfica faithful. Lage brought in a refreshing brand of attacking football no matter who the opposition.
Some of the Eagles best performances saw them flying high against their biggest rivals including the 4-2 win at Sporting and the crucial 2-1 victory at Porto.
Lage turned Benfica into an unstoppable goal-machine, scoring an incredible seventy-two times in the nineteen league matches up to the end of the season, winning eighteen and drawing the other. Benfica president Luís Filipe Vieira can also take credit for finally getting the club’s academy at Seixal firing on all cylinders. Lage uncovered the potential of 19-year-old João Félix, who trained at the youth academy, and his partnership with main striker Haris Seferovic has produced thirty-eight goals and contributed twelve assists.
Benfica also moulded 21-year-old centre back and Portugal international Ruben Dias, who has developed into a key player for the Lisbon club, making sixty appearances this season. 19-year-old Florentino Luís, a defensive midfielder who has been linked with a move to Manchester City, and 20-year-old Jota, a creative winger who previously had a trial at Manchester United and Gedson Fernandes have also proved their worth.
Whether Benfica can hang on to their young squad is doubtful given the vast amounts of money circulating among clubs in other European leagues but for now the Benfica fans around the world can bask in the knowledge that they have an exciting young team ready to do battle with the best teams in Europe in next season’s Champions League.
At the bottom GD Chaves, CD National (Madeira) and CD Feirense are relegated whilst P.Ferreira and Famalicão (Braga district) are promoted from the Segunda Liga. Just ten years ago Famalicão were playing in local league football at Level Five.