You probably heard the cheers from across the Atlantic: Portugal’s first-ever victory in the 2016 Euro Cup back in July was arguably the nation’s most important victory since King John’s 1385 defeat of the Castilians.
Now Portugal’s national team has its sights set on the FIFA World Cup in 2018. The road to Russia is a long one, however, with European teams vying for spots in the final bracket over the next year or so. Portugal was disappointed in its first match against Switzerland on September 6 but fans remain optimistic: Their team endured a first round loss in Euro 2016 but emerged victorious in the end. (Click here for a schedule of Portugal’s upcoming matches.)
Experiencing futebol with Europe’s proudest fans is yet another reason to visit Portugal! Here’s Portugal.com’s guide on what you need to know to be “in the know” about the Euro Cup victory, the history of soccer in Portugal and how travelers can get in on the action during a Portuguese vacation.
Worship the 2016 Euro Cup Heroes
Cristiano “Ronaldo” – 2016 national team captain, three time world FIFA player of the year and global football idol. Currently plays for Real Madrid after playing for Manchester United and beginning his career at Sporting CP. He is Portugal’s all-time top goal scorer and an international philanthropist.
Renato Sanches – At just 19 years old, this powerful midfielder joined Bayern Munich from Benfica on a 35 million Euro transfer fee. At age 18 he was the youngest Portuguese player to start a game for the national team, beating Ronaldo by a few months. Renato was a key player for the Euro 2016 squad winning the “Young Player of the Tournament” prize.
André Gomes – This 23-year-old standout played at Benfica and Valencia before joining Barcelona this summer. He was selected for the national Euro 2016 side and is expected to fill the void left by Rui Costa and Deco.
André Silva – Nineteen-year-old FC Porto forward is a powerful attacker with sublime soccer skills. He joined the national team for the first qualifying games for the upcoming World Cup 2018. Silva is expected to fill in the void at center forward last played consistently by Pauleta.
Meet Portugal’s Futebol Legends
Eusébio – Not only o Rei (The King) of Portuguese soccer but critically acclaimed as one of the best footballers of all time, Eusébio scored 790 goals during his lifetime and powered Portugal’s third place finish in the 1966 World Cup being the tournament top scorer. Born in Mozambique, a territory of Portugal until 1976, Eusebio played 15 years at Sport Lisboa and Benfica, helping Benfica reach the European Champions Cup 5 times and wining two. He won the Ballon d’Or award for European footballer of the year in 1965 and was runner-up in 1962 and 1966. Eusebio also own the Golden Boot award for top European league scorer in 1968 and 1973. He passed away in 2014.
Luís Figo – Before he retired in 2009, Figo’s extraordinary ability as a winger garnered 127 caps for the Portuguese national team – a record that stood until Ronaldo broke it. Like Ronaldo, Figo came up through the ranks of Sporting Clube de Portugal’s academy and senior team before record money transfers to Barcelona and Real Madrid. Luis Figo ended his career at Inter Milan. He won the 2000 Ballon d’Or and was named 2001 FIFA World Player of the Year. In 2004 he was named in the FIFA 100 list of the world’s greatest living players.
Learn the History
Introduced to Portugal in 1875, football is now the most popular sport in the country.
Prior to starting 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia qualifiers, Portugal was ranked 6th and will face Switzerland, Hungary and others in its Europe’s Group B matches.
Know the Clubs
There are 18 clubs in Portugal’s Primeira Liga national football league system. Primeira Liga has ranked in the top 5 UEFA national leagues since the 2011-12 season.
The “Big Three” – Benfica (35), Porto (27) and Sporting CP (18) – have won all but two of the national championships. The 2015-16 national champion was Benfica.
See the Action
Watching players on the pitch is one of the most exciting experiences in all of Portugal. Tickets to matches are often reasonably priced. And football fans need not fret if no games are on the calendar: Portugal’s major stadiums are among the newest and most beautiful stadiums in all of Europe and tours are readily available.
Arena da Pedreira, Braga – Home to SC Braga and ranked among the most beautiful stadiums in the world.
Estadio Algarve – This stadium has no home club so is not open for tours but visitors to the south of Portugal can sometimes catch a regional or exhibition match on this pitch.
Discover the Possibilities! Portugal.com knows where the action is. Football fans can choose one of these weeklong itineraries and be assured they will never find themselves far from the pitch. Email us at [email protected] today to book your trip to celebrate with Europe’s champions!
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