The Primeira Liga (or Liga Portugal Bwin) is the top football league in Portugal. Before we can successfully bet on Primeira Liga, we need to answer the obvious question is: how well do we know the league and the clubs?
History of the Primeira Liga
In sports betting, the basic rule is: gain sufficient knowledge before you bet. For betting on Primeira Liga, it is no different. In other words, let’s start at the beginning.
The top Portuguese football league is fairly old compared to other top European leagues. Of course, they cannot match the Premier League (and Serie A). The Primeira Liga is a lot older than, say, the Eredivisie and Bundesliga. In fact, the league was founded in 1934.
Before the Primeira Liga was formed, there was already the Portuguese Cup, the Taça de Portugal. From 1922 to 1938, the cup tournament was called Campeonato de Portugal. Its winners were also considered Portuguese champions, but those titles are no longer counted.
So from 1934, the competition was added with Porto as the very first champion. They had also won the first cup in 1922. So very early on, Porto was a name you could put on your betting sheet when betting on Primeira Liga.
By the way, it is a pity that Portuguese cup winners from 1922 onwards are not counted as national champions. Then the list would be a lot bigger than the five different champions Portugal has had so far. After Porto, cup winners included Olhanense, Marítimo, Carcavelinhos and a few times Belenenses.
Porto, Sporting and Benfica dominate
From the early days, it was clear that three clubs stood out above the rest. In that respect, betting on Primeira Liga is somewhat similar to how Portuguese people will experience betting on the Eredivisie. No doubt they are also the first to watch our big 3.
In the first Campeonato Da Liga containing eight clubs, Porto won, ahead of Sporting and Benfica. The participating clubs, by the way, were specifically invited. Four from the Lisbon Football League, two from Porto, one from Setúbal and one from Coimbra. So Sporting and Benfica are from Lisbon, Porto… from Porto.
The only club that sometimes mixed among those top clubs in the early years was Belenenses. In 1936-1937 they finished second and from 1939 they finished third four times in a row. Incidentally, the first six titles were split exactly equally between Porto and Benfica. From 1941, Sporting put national titles in their trophy cabinet, even five in the 1940s.
From eight to ten clubs in Portugal
In 1939, the league was renamed (Campeonato Nacional) and expanded to ten clubs. The latter was mainly due to a row in Porto’s regional championship. FC Porto and Académico do Porto had disagreed over who had become regional champion because of a cancelled match.
The Portuguese Football Federation then decided to just move the championship competition from eight to 10. The match was played again, but Porto lost and came third.
The expansion did allow them to enter the Campeonato Nacional and they became champions. Fortunately, that expansion of the number of teams continued. Weekly betting on Primeira Liga would otherwise quickly become boring.
Belenenses one-time champion Portugal
By the end of World War II, Benfica had now become record holders with six titles. Portugal did not know it at the time, but the 1945-1946 season would become quite unique in history. Indeed, Belenenses, along with Benfica, was supreme in Portugal that season.
Belenenses won ten of its 11 home games (the others tied) and became champions of Portugal partly as a result. Benfica finished second, one point behind.
What is unique about Belenenses’ title is that it would be only one of two national titles in almost 90 years not won by Os Três Grandes, The Big Three – Benfica, Porto and Sporting. Can you imagine the odds of an outright winner bet when betting on Primeira Liga? Belenenses must really have been a huge value bet.
Sporting and Benfica dominate for 30 years
After 1946, it would remain a friendly between The Big Three for decades. Sporting swept past first-ever champions Porto like a rocket from that year onwards.
For in eight years, Sporting became champions no less than seven times. Benfica had the Joop Zoetemelk syndrome with second place every time. Porto often had to leave the third spot to Belenenses.
In the second half of the 1950s, Porto took the title twice. Then, however, Benfica’s heyday began. The club would win no fewer than 14 of 18 championships between 1960 and 1977, leaving four to Sporting.
In the early 1960s, Benfica were the first to break Real Madrid’s hegemony in the European Cup I, the precursor to the Champions League. National hero Eusebio was, of course, the big man at Benfica. The Cruijff or Pelé of Portugal – depending on who you asked.
Porto finally gets back at Benfica and Sporting
In the late 1970s, Porto fans finally saw light at the end of the tunnel. Some 20 years after the last title and after many second-place finishes, the club finally became champions again in 1978. Porto repeated that trick in 1979.
After five years of Benfica and Sporting (and second four times), Porto went on to dominate the Portuguese league from the mid-1980s. In 15 years, there were 11 league titles for Porto and four for Benfica. Come 1987, FC Porto also won the European Cup I, becoming the first Portuguese club after Benfica in 1961 and 1962.
In 1999 a new name for the Portuguese league, the current Primeira Liga, came into being after more than 60 years. Perhaps FC Porto were momentarily ‘surprised’ but the first three titles from 2000 went by the wayside.
Sporting became champions in 2000 and 2002. In between in 2001 there was the ‘second unicum’ in Portuguese football history. Boavista became the second champion outside The Big Three after Belenenses. So it has remained ever since. Useful dates for betting on Primeira Liga in current times.
Porto and Benfica split titles in Portugal
After those three ‘gap years’, Porto cheerfully picked up where it left off. Between 2003 and 2013, the club strung together nine titles, Benfica got two. After 2013, there were four titles in a row for Benfica and in recent years a nice alternation between The Big Three.
In fact, the other clubs barely finished second or third. Which says nothing about the amount of valuable betting that can be found in encounters of these clubs. Instead, we recommend that when betting on Primeira Liga, you look for value in the ‘lesser gods’. Those who play it smart can pocket nice profits there.
Statistics Primeira Liga
As mentioned, the Portuguese league is inexorably dominated by three clubs. Indeed, by two cities. Benfica is the record holder with 37 titles, followed by FC Porto (30) and Sporting (19).
Belenenses and Boavista have to make do with one national title each. Benfica, Sporting and Belenenses are from Lisbon, while Porto and Boavista are from Porto. So only two cities have been allowed to cheer Portuguese titles in almost 90 years.
The Portuguese cup, the Taça de Portugal, had slightly more different winners. There, most titles have been distributed as much as the national championship: Benfica 26, Porto 18 and Sporting 17. Boavista won five handsomely while there were three cup victories for Vitória de Setúbal, Belenenses and Braga.
Besides betting on Primeira Liga, we also definitely recommend betting on Portuguese cup football. Cup tournaments provide eminently interesting and potentially very profitable odds. As is the case every year in the KNVB Cup tournament.
From Fernando Peyroteo to José Aguas
When it comes to statistics, we naturally also look at the top scorers. From 1937, Fernando Peyroteo was one of Portugal’s most feared strikers. He played ‘only’ 12 years of football at Sporting, but became Portugal’s top scorer six times in that time. With 332 goals in 197 duels (other times!), he is also top scorer of all time.
Exactly when Peyroteo retired from football in 1949, another goal scorer announced himself. José Aguas played at Benfica from 1950 to 1963 and accounted for 291 goals in 281 games, fourth all-time in Portugal. He picked up five top scorer titles. His son Rui Aguas would play seven seasons for Benfica in the 1980s and 1990s and two for Porto in between.
From Eusebio to Fernando Gomes
It is as if Portugal’s top scorers waited for each other each time. José Aguas retired in 1963 and in 1961 young Eusébio da Silva Ferreira from Mozambique had made his debut for Benfica. In the 1963-1964 season (the first without Aguas), he would grab his first top scorer’s title. Six more would follow.
He also won the European Cup I once (1962), 11 national titles, five national cups and, in 1965, the Golden Ball. Only 35 years later, Luis Figo would be the second Portuguese with that award and then, of course, Cristiano Ronaldo. In total, Eusebio scored 318 goals in Portugal.
Fernando Gomes, Porto’s striker, would score exactly one more goal than Eusebio. He played 13 years for Porto and two seasons for Sporting at the end of his career. 15 years a recurring name on the betting sheet when betting on Primeira Liga goalscorers.
Mario Jardel, Cristiano Ronaldo and Bas Dost
Over the last 30 years, Mario Jardel in particular has been a household name in Portugal. The Brazilian striker has worn out many clubs, but was fantastic at Porto between 1996 and 2000. He scored 130 goals in 125 league matches, unprecedented since the 1990s, and became top scorer four times in a row. He would also become top scorer for Sporting in 2002.
Jackson Martinez played three seasons for Porto between 2012 and 2015, also becoming top scorer three times in a row. So betting on Primeira Liga top scorer should mainly be sought in the Top 3. In the Netherlands, a striker from Vitesse, Heerenveen or AZ still sometimes wants to be among them.
Cristiano Ronaldo cannot (yet) add a top scorer’s title in Portugal to his impressive CV. In 2002-2003, he played one season at Sporting. He only won the Portuguese Supercup (Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira) and scored 3 goals in 25 league matches. Only in his fourth season at Manchester United did he start scoring in full. Additionally, later at Real Madrid and Juventus, he only really started competing with Lionel Messi for goals and prizes. In 2021-2022, it was Liverpool acquisition Darwin Nuñez employed by Benfica.
From Béla Gutmann to José Mourinho
In Europe, Portuguese clubs have also done quite well. No fewer than four times the European Cup I / Champions League went to a Portuguese club. In 1961 and 1962, Benfica won the European Cup I under legendary Hungarian coach Béla Gutmann. When he was thrown out on the street for asking for a pay rise after those two wins, a curse fell on Benfica. The club would never win another European title since then.
In 1965 and 1968 they lost the Europa Cup I final (Internazionale and Manchester United), in 1983 the UEFA Cup final (Anderlecht), in 1988 and 1990 the Europa Cup I final again (PSV and AC Milan), in 2013 and 2014 the Europa League final (Chelsea and Sevilla).
FC Porto won a total of five European prizes. In 1986-1987 and 2003-2004 the Europa Cup I / Champions League. The latter, of course, under the leadership of José Mourinho. In 2003 (under Mourinho) and 2011, the club won the UEFA Cup / Europa League. In 1987, the UEFA Super Cup. In 1987 and 2004, Porto also won the International Cup (against the champion of South America). Sporting was in 1
Portugal on UEFA coefficient list
It is increasingly in the news: the so-called UEFA coefficient list. This ranking determines the number of tickets per country for the Champions League, Europa League and Conference League. The top five is actually standard for England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France. behind them, however, it is tussling.
Portugal was in sixth place for a while, but is now overtaken by the Eredivisie. So good news for Ajax, PSV, Feyenoord and the other clubs. Even the French Ligue 1 is not safe at its fifth spot.
Betting on Primeira Liga
Portugal’s Primeira Liga is often overlooked as a top European competition. It does not belong to the Big Five: Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1. Portugal, however, has long been at the top of UEFA’s European club rankings for a reason.
Betting on Primeira Liga can easily be done at Mobile Wins. Mobile Wins naturally lists the best promotions, bonuses, odds boosts and free bets for you.
The “Derby de Lisboa” refers to the Lisbon derby between Sporting CP and SL Benfica. This intense rivalry adds an extra layer of excitement to the Primeira Liga and reflects the historical competition between the two clubs.
The “Big Three,” comprising SL Benfica, FC Porto, and Sporting CP, have historically dominated the Primeira Liga, leading to intense competition for titles and European spots among them.
FC Porto’s victory in the UEFA Champions League in 2004 under José Mourinho elevated the reputation of both the club and the Primeira Liga, showcasing Portuguese football on the international stage.
Benfica’s “Five in a Row” accomplishment refers to their five consecutive league titles from 1971 to 1975. This remarkable feat solidified their status as one of the Primeira Liga’s most dominant clubs.
The “home advantage” refers to the tendency for teams to perform better when playing at their home stadium. Sports bettors often consider this factor when placing wagers on Primeira Liga matches.