Portimonense are now just three points away from Primeira Liga’s summit after an impressive 1-0 victory at home to Famalicão. Palmeiras loanee Pedrão’s goal shortly after the hour mark was enough to secure the three points and send the Algarve-based club into fourth place in the league standings - with big guns Benfica, Braga, and FC Porto the sole sides above them in the Portuguese top flight.
Online bookmakers such as Betfred, which provides betting and free offers on European football, hadn’t tipped Paulo Sérgio’s side to pull up any trees domestically this season. But on this showing - the club’s fourth victory on the spin - fans are beginning to dream of one of the most successful seasons in the club’s history.
Daring to dream
After selling star players during the summer, Portimonense were expected to struggle this term. Last season, the club finished down in 13th, comfortably staving off relegation in the process, they eventually finished nine points clear of Moreirense in the third and final relegation spot. There were high points along the way as well, with the 1-0 victory away at Champions League quarter-finalists and record Portuguese champions Benfica standing out as perhaps the moment of the season.
Striker Beto headed to Serie A side Udinese for €7m and Brazilian centre-back Willyan Rocha also left the club, sealing a switch to CSKA Moscow for a reported €2m. First-choice goalkeeper Samuel, who featured in all but four games last season, has also left the club. He joined reigning champions FC Porto, earlier in the summer and has hit the ground running for his new club, starting all of their games this season, conceding just twice in four games.
But not since the days of Vítor Oliveira have Portimonense fans ever had as much optimism. That year the club qualified for European football for the first and only time in the club’s history. In 1984/85 the club secured their best-ever finish of fifth-placed in the Portuguese top flight, sealing a spot in the first round of the UEFA Cup. They would defeat Partizan Belgrade by a goal to nil in the first leg but eventually end up losing 4-0 in the Serbian capital.
Could something similar perhaps happen this year? The top five clubs in the country secure European football, but with Benfica, FC Porto, Sporting CP, and Braga usually taking up four of those spots, if Portimonense want to seal a return to the continent, they will have to finish fifth and earn the title: Best of the Rest. Judging by the start they have made this season, we wouldn’t put it passed them.