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Season review: Portugal

Published: Monday 9 June 2014, 8.54CET
It was a season to remember for SL Benfica, who clinched their 33rd Portuguese Liga title and overcame Rio Ave FC in both cup finals to seal an unprecedented treble.
by José Nuno Pimentel & Pedro Gonçalves
from Lisbon
Season review: Portugal
Benfica completed a historic domestic treble in 2013/14 ©AFP/Getty Images features

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Published: Monday 9 June 2014, 8.54CET

Season review: Portugal

It was a season to remember for SL Benfica, who clinched their 33rd Portuguese Liga title and overcame Rio Ave FC in both cup finals to seal an unprecedented treble.

SL Benfica swept all before them in Portugal by finishing seven points clear at the league summit and beating Rio Ave FC in both cup finals to seal an unprecedented treble. 

Champions: SL Benfica
Jorge Jesus' side secured their 33rd championship and first since 2009/10 having been runners-up three seasons in a row. This time they were too strong for the chasing pack, wrapping up top spot with two games to spare courtesy of 11 straights wins. The signs had looked bleak in October, with the Eagles five points adrift of leaders FC Porto, but they wrestled back top spot in January and never looked back after beating their rivals 2-0. The only blotch on a perfect season came when Benfica lost their second consecutive UEFA Europa League final, succumbing to Sevilla FC on penalties after a goalless draw in Turin.

Cup final: SL Benfica 1-0 Rio Ave FC
Facing the same opponents they disposed of in the Portuguese League Cup final, Benfica started well, scoring the decisive goal after 20 minutes as Nicolás Gaitán drilled the ball into the top corner from the edge of the area. Rio Ave took control after the break and created the better chances, with Pedro Santos hitting the woodwork on the hour mark, but Benfica held their nerve. "We were dead in the second half," said coach Jesus. "It was very difficult after the UEFA Europa League final. It could have been four out of four trophies, but it was important to win the three national competitions."

European places*
SL Benfica – UEFA Champions League group stage
Sporting Clube de Portugal – UEFA Champions League group stage
FC Porto – UEFA Champions League play-offs
Estoril Praia – UEFA Europa League group stage
CD Nacional – UEFA Europa League play-offs
Rio Ave FC – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round

*subject to final confirmation from UEFA

Player of the year: Enzo Pérez (SL Benfica)
After joining Benfica in 2011, the 28-year-old Argentinian initially struggled to hold down a first-team place, ending the season on loan at Club Estudiantes LP. It was only following the departure of Axel Witsel and Javi García that Pérez came of age in central midfield. Unrelenting in defence, superb at recovering possession and a natural leader, Pérez has established himself as the heartbeat of the side. He also chipped in with four goals this term, including one in the crucial 2-0 defeat of Sporting in February. He missed the UEFA Europa League final due to suspension, but earned a place in Argentina's 23-man party for the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

One to watch: William Carvalho (Sporting Clube de Portugal)
A product of the world-famed Sporting academy which has produced players such as Luís Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo, the 22-year-old has reached unexpected heights this season. Fresh from a two-year loan at Cercle Brugge KSV, Carvalho soon became a key cog in the well-oiled Lions side that finished second. An imposing, powerful defensive midfielder, Carvalho plays the protagonist in Sporting's high-pressing game, drawing comparisons with Patrick Vieira. Carvalho was handed his international debut against Sweden in November and named in Paulo Bento's 2014 FIFA World Cup squad.

Surprise package: Estoril Praia
After securing fifth spot in 2012/13, the Canarinhos sold several key players including Licá, Carlos Eduardo, Steven Vitória and Jefferson Nascimento. The season of struggle many expected did not transpire, though, as Estoril equalled their best league finish (fourth) with a club-record 54 points. Notable scalps along the way included Porto – the Dragons' first home defeat since October 2008 – and Sporting. The man behind their success was the league's youngest coach, 36-year-old Marco Silva, who has since succeeded Leonardo Jardim at Sporting.

Leading scorer: Jackson Martínez, FC Porto (20)

Relegated: SC Olhanense

Promoted: Moreirense FC, FC Penafiel, Boavista FC

Number: 7
Having lost just seven games in five previous seasons, Porto suffered as many defeats in a single campaign this term.

"If Eusébio were here, he would have been very proud of us."
Benfica coach Jesus following the 2-0 home win against Porto in what was an emotional, fitting tribute to Eusébio a week after his death on 5 January

Last updated: 09/06/14 8.58CET