Well you are probably wondering why would anyone that isn’t Portuguese would want to watch this pub league? This article will hopefully change your mind as I explain various reasons why fans maybe interested in starting to follow this league more often.
With the majority of the main leagues in Europe already being decided in terms of the winner, Portugal’s race to the throne remains on. With Porto dropping points last night it means that Benfica are only two points from them with Sporting being 5 points off if they win their game tonight. Benfica still has to play Porto and Sporting meaning there will be six- pointers coming up. At this time of the season having a two-man race to the title is rare let alone a three-man race. At the other end of the table there is 4 points splitting 18th and 13th, meaning that the relegation scrap is well and truly on. Staying in the first league is crucial for teams as gate receipts massively drop as well TV money.
Managerial breeding ground
Across the globe there is at least one Portuguese manager in the majority of leagues, ranging from the Premier League to 3 in the Chinese Super league. They all tend to start in the Liga Nos, in fact the two first tiers of Portuguese football are only managed by Portuguese coaches. This means that in general clubs believe in the quality that these managers can offer. Normally clubs opt for ex-players that have played for the club such is the case in Braga with Abel Ferreira. In England alone, this season, Mourinho, Marco Silva and Carlos Carvalhal have all been part of the Premier league. They all started their managerial career with modest Portuguese teams. In Portugal, Jorge Jesus has been nominated multiple times by the prestigious fourfourtwo as in the top 20 managers in the world with some newspapers in the past linking him to the big jobs such as PSG and the Spanish giants Atletico Madrid. Currently Sergio Conceicao seems the next outstanding manager to come from Liga NOS. As he leads Porto to the title despite minimal transfer investment. Not forgetting that Benfica’s Rui Vitoria won the league twice on his first two years at the club.
The next Premier league star
The Portuguese is seen by many as the perfect place to polish their talent to be ready for the big European leagues such as the Premier league. There are some examples where being a star in the Liga NOS does not mean you will succeed in the Premier League, just ask Lazar Markovic. But there are plenty of positives examples ranging from Ricardo Carvalho to David Luiz. Ramires and Matic spent time in Portugal before establishing themselves in the Premier League. Last summer Benfica lost Ederson to Manchester City, Lindelof to Manchester United and Nelson Semedo to Barcelona. Other example of players are Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani, Falcao, Di Maria, Deco and Pepe. Currently the players that in the near future can raise compliments in the Big league are Gelson Martins, Bruno Fernandes, William Carvalho, Rui Patricio, Yacine Brahimi, Ricardo Pereira, Alex Telles, Cervi and Grimaldo.
Majority of football teams in Portugal are fan-owned which makes it a completely different scenario to English football. These teams elect a chairman every four years to lead the club to their objectives. Fans pay a monthly membership to keep the club ticking and with the membership comes certain rewards, varying from the club to club. This for me is how football clubs should be run by the fans and not some millionaire. Clubs tend to struggle financially so a way that clubs are starting to battle this is by investing more money into their youth academy and their scouting to try and find or produce the next star. Benfica and Porto had the best scouting system in Portugal with Sporting undoubtedly the best academy but the landscape is changing . Benfica and Porto have now got academies just on par with Sporting and Sporting has improved their scouting system to match their rivals.
Football in Portugal has breeded an ultra movement in Portugal with almost every professional team having them. These Ultras add so much to the atmosphere of a stadium definitely not giving it a touristy feel. These Ultras go to home and away matches adding to the atmosphere of every game whether it is on a Monday Night or a Saturday night. Within clubs there will be different Ultra groups too. This is a short video I found on youtube of the main ultra groups but there are plenty of more out there which offer a better true representation of the Ultras.
Majority of these Ultras are actually legalised meaning they are responsible for their behaviour as well as the club that they belong to. During the Euros various members of these Ultras got together to support Portugal in France. Now they are trying to get legalised within the FA and want to be called Ultras Portugal. If you are ever in Lisbon or Porto for a city break would definitely recommend going to a game as tickets prices are relatively cheap ranging from 20 to 40 euros and it is a memorable experience.
There are weekly rumours of Corruption of Portugal especially regarding Benfica and Porto. There are have been some very very dodgy situations in the past and it does end up breeding hatred between clubs, players, managers etc. This all adds to create a much bigger rivalry. Whilst the corruption is without a doubt present, the rivalry it creates is unique.
Portugal is a country that breathes football
The Top three teams in Portugal are all in the top 10 teams in the World with the most members. Benfica are the biggest in Portugal with 184.264 (Dec 2016) Sporting with 160,000 (Aug 2017) and Porto with 138,00 (2016) these numbers would have changed but considering there is only 10 million people in Portugal, puts into perspective how much of the people love football. Portugal play football on the beach (beach soccer,one of the best national teams in the world) indoors (futsal Euro 2018 winners) and on grass (Euro 2016 winners). Futhermore it boasts arguably the best player, best manager and the most successful football agent (boo!) There are 3 daily newspapers that only focus on football with maybe at most 10 or so of the backpages covering sport in general. One of those newspaper is the third most sold daily in Portugal.
Final few reasons to watch Liga NOS. If you like to bet on football, the big three in Portugal normally always win. If you were to bet on them every league game they would win you money over 75% of the time. Between them they have only lost 4 games this season too. Another reason to watch it is because in England it’s actually free to watch it on the television. If you have Freeview then the channel FREESPORTS has actually bought the television rights for it. I would initially recommend watching the games between Porto, Sporting and Benfica as they are great rivalries and show you the best that Liga NOS has to offer which is talent and stadium atmosphere.