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A BOLA - The growth of Sporting, Porto and Benfica ... the largest (League)

A BOLA – The growth of Sporting, Porto and Benfica … the largest (League)

The three main Portuguese teams, called the Big Three, are getting stronger and more balanced. A trend that has emerged in this century, but above all, in the past ten years. Thus, the title fight is in full swing when the first third of the tournament is completed: a point difference between the top three. It feels like we’re only going back almost 30 years, to 11 of 1993/1994: Benfica, 17; Sporting, 17 years old; Porto, 17, by 2 points per victory; O Sporting, 25, Benfica, 24; Porto, 24, with a score of 3 points.

The difference between the first three is almost non-existent, but then at least eight points from the third to the fourth (Estoril), a clear result of the current strength of dragons, lions, and eagles. The quality of the SC Braga team in recent years, although allowing an interesting battle for third place at times, has declined, with the loss of very good players, such as Palhinha, Paulinho, Fransérgio, Francisco Trincão, Dyego Sousa, Wilson Eduardo or Ricardo Esgayo, for example. Braga is now fifth and nine points (!) from third, which is the biggest difference between them since 1999/2000, when they were both in penultimate position and no less than 14 points out of 3.º rated (Sporting).

FC Porto, Sporting and Benfica added 86 points to the eleventh round. This total has always increased in the past four years: 76 in 2018/2019, 78 in 2019/2020, 81 in 2020/2021, and 86 in 2021/2022. Strongest, in no less than 88 copies of the national championship, for only one occasion. In 1990/1991, no less than 31 years ago, the Big Three added up to three points per victory, no less: Sporting, 33; Porto, 30 years old; Benfica, 28 years old. Four more now.

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Also only in 1990/1991, when the big three coached Marino Pérez (Sporting), Artur Jorge (FC Porto) and Sven-Goran Eriksson (Benfica), was the difference greater than the third to fourth (Beira Mar). : 10 points for 3 to win. The trio of eternal contenders for the title had very extensive rosters in terms of quality. Sporting had players like Ivkovic, Carlos Xavier, Luisinho, Venancio, Paulo Torres, Douglas, Occino, Filipe, Letos, Careca, Balakov, Cadet or Gomez, Porto presented themselves with Vitor Pella, Aloysio, Fernando Cotto, Geraldao, Joao Pinto , André, Jaime Magalhães, Paille, Jorge Couto, Semedo, Domingos, Kostadinov or Madjer, Benfica had Silvino, Veloso, Ricardo Gomes, Rui Bento, Paulo Madeira, Schwarz, Paulo Sousa, Vítor Paneira, Thern, Rui Águas, Valdo, Isaía Cesar Brito.

After 31 years, the Big Three are huge again. Stronger only in 1990/1991, the season that ended with Benfica as national champion, followed by FC Porto and Sporting. But as there was only a balance between the top three until round 16. Since then, the Lions have started to lose ground…

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