How they won it
Last summer there were doubts about how Benfica would cope after losing midfielders Nicolás Gaitán to Atlético Madrid and Renato Sanches to Bayern, but reassurance came quickly – Jonas, Pizzi and new boy Franco Cervi scoring in a 3-0 Portuguese Super Cup win against Braga. Rui Vitória’s men didn’t quite hit the same heights as 2015/16, but took top spot in the fifth round of games and never looked back. Midfielder Pizzi, 27, was the star man, playing all 33 Liga matches so far, scoring ten goals in the process.
Key number: 18
This title triumph was Benfica captain Luisão’s 18th honour since signing in 2003, outstripping Eusébio’s tally of 17 and matching the haul of another Eagles legend, Mário Coluna. Only former striker Nené, with 19, has lifted more trophies with Benfica, and his record is in Luisão’s sights. The Brazilian centre-back also passed the 500-mark for club appearances this term; already Benfica’s top European appearance-maker with 123, the 36-year-old (following outing No513 on Saturday) trails only Nené (578), António Veloso (534) and Mário Coluna (528) in theall-time rankings.
In 83 Portuguese Liga seasons, Benfica (36), Sporting (18) and Porto (27) have won all but two of the championships – with Belenenses and Boavista the exceptions – and the big three dominated again in 2016/17. Sporting were expected to push their neighbours the hardest, but it was Porto who have offered the strongest challenge so far, even if a run of nine straight wins from 15 January to 10 March still wasn’t enough for the Dragons to dislodge the Eagles from their perch.
Make it a double?
Benfica beat fourth-placed Guimarães to clinch the title and take on Pedro Martins’ men again in the Portuguese Cup final on 28 May. Win and they will secure their 11th domestic double.
Room for improvement
Benfica’s 88 points in 2015/16 was the highest yield since the Liga was expanded to 18 teams, and they struggled to equal it this term. With striker Jonas missing much of the autumn through injury, Benfica weren’t as supreme as they might have been, eight of their 25 victories coming by one-goal margins. However, having picked up four successive championships for the first time in their history, they have something to target in 2017/18 – because only Porto, from 1995–99, have landed five on the bounce.
Biggest win: 5-0 v Guimarães
Biggest loss: 2-1 Marítimo, 1-0 Vitória Guimarães
Top scorer: Kostas Mitroglou (15)