SL Benfica: The Mecca of Portuguese football that has ruled Europe and Portugal!
One of the most famous football clubs in the world and a two-time European champion, Benfica have been a symbol of greatness in Portuguese football.
Benfica have a rich heritage of football and were the second team after Real Madrid in the early 1960s to hold the accolade of European champions.
Some of the greats of the game have graced this famous old football club which includes Eusebio, Nene and in the modern-day Angel Di Maria, Bernardo Silva, Joao Felix and Ruben Dias to name a few.
The club has pocketed close to €900 million (£810m/$1 billion) in player sales over the past decade - a vital cash stream as they try to compete with clubs from Europe's 'Big Five' leagues.
History of the club
Benfica have a huge fan base in the Portugal capital of Lisbon and have won the 37 league titles in the top flight of Portugal football.
The club holds a unique distinction of never getting relegated from the top flight since its inaugural season in 1934-35. Their 37 domestic league titles is the fifth-highest number of league triumphs in Europe, more than Real Madrid (35) and Juventus (36).
The back-to-back European Cup victories in 1961 and 1962 saw them become the first Portugal club to win a European Cup, a feat only replicated by FC Porto. They also have 26 Taça de Portugal (FA Cup equivalent) and 7 Taça da Liga (League Cup) titles.
A Unique Distinction of Records
✨ SL Benfica was the first club from Portugal to go undefeated in the entire campaign and earn the tag of invincibles in the 1972-73 season.
✨ The feat was repeated five years later when they become achieved yet another season of invincibility in 1977-78.
✨ Benfica were also the first-ever club in Portugal to achieve a treble of trophies in 2014 and could have won the quadruple had they not lost the Europa League final to Sevilla on penalties.
Derby de Lisboa – Local rivalry with Sporting Lisbon
Based in Lisbon, Benfica have a strong geographical rivalry with Sporting Lisbon as they often share bad blood. Like Benfica, arch-rivals Sporting have never faced relegation as the fixture has been part of Portugal's top flight ever since its inception.
‘Derby de Lisboa’ is what the locals call it. The fixture has always witnessed some high-intensity football and there is no love lost between the fan base.
They both share an unprecedented 56 league titles in between them, a reminder of why they fight outright for the glory.
O Clássico – Traditional rivalry with Porto
The Portuguese version of ‘El Clasico,’ Benfica share a traditional rivalry with Porto who have recently gone toe-to-toe with them.
FC Porto remains the only club that can challenge the authority of Benfica in terms of title triumphs and European glory.
A two-time European champion, FC Porto have the firepower to upset the capital-based club and have a recent upper hand over them. The fans of both teams call this rivalry even bigger than their local rivalries against Sporting Lisbon and Braga.
Some of Top Footballers Produced by SL Benfica
Eusebio is by far considered the greatest player in the history of Benfica as he was the architect of two European Cups in the early 1960s.
The Portugal international even led the national side to a third-place finish in the 1966 World Cup and scored in the 1-2 defeat to England in the semis.
Eusebio ended with nine goals in the tournament and was the highest scorer in the World Cup as he grabbed hold of the ‘Golden Boot’. He also scored a record 473 goals for Benfica, which is still a record at an arm’s length as he wielded his legacy as a true great of the game.
A lighting star at the Euro 2016, Renato Sanches was the product of the Benfica academy before he went on to shine for Portugal.
He was the only Benfica player to have played for Portugal in the historic triumph. Nene holds the record for most appearances for the club with 575 appearances to his name.
Some of the big names that have starred recently
Angel Di Maria – Played for Benfica before starring for Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain
David Luiz – Played for Benfica before going on to make a name for himself at Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain
Bernardo Silva - The current Man City midfielder came through the Benfica academy youth system as well.
Joao Cancelo – The star name was a product of Benfica and is staring for Manchester City before he came from Juventus.
Joao Felix - The current Atletico Madrid star has become a household name in European football thanks to his academy roots in the Benfica youth system.
Ederson – Pep Guardiola will have little regret about the signing he made in 2017 as the Brazilian has made a big impression since signing from Benfica.
With big names and a big heritage, Benfica have a huge fan base and have achieved a special place in the caldarium of football.