Portugal’s 8 Most Successful Clubs, Ranked (June, 2023)

ARL Football Success Rankings

The ARL Football Success Ranking System for men’s European club football establishes which clubs are the most successful of each nation and in the whole of Europe.

It is a system of scoring points to clubs based on what trophies and how many have been won. Different trophies score different points and are based on a ‘glory’ criteria. Only ‘competitive football’ trophies are considered.

Portugal and its Primeira Liga

Portugal’s footballing history goes back to the late 19th Century when its biggest clubs were founded. By 1922 an appetite for bragging rights kicked off the first national competition – the forerunner of the Taca de Portugal (Portugal Cup). By 1934 the Portuguese league was founded.

Portuguese league football is dominated by the country’s three biggest clubs from its two major metropolises – Lisbon and Porto. It’s an intense, three way rivalry in a land famed for its passionate fans. These clubs have had a big impact on the history of UEFA football too, not surprising given some of Europe’s finest players have hailed from Portugal. They’ve managed 58.5 success points from international trophies.

Ranked 7th in the UEFA Coefficient in 2023, Portuguese clubs receive -2 Success Points in all three major domestic competitions compared to clubs in leagues 1-5 of the coefficient.

Competition Key
FIFA CWC: Intercontinental Cup / FIFA Club World Cup
LC: League Cup (Taca da Liga)
UEFA ECL: UEFA Europa Conference League
AC: Association Cup (Campeonato de Portugal / Taca de Portugal)
UEFA EL: UEFA Cup / Europa League
UEFA CWC: UEFA Cup Winners Cup
UEFA CL: UEFA European Cup / Champions League
T: Top Tier League Title (Primeira Liga)

Scroll to the bottom for the full table of Portugal’s eight most successful clubs

5. Boavista FC

Success Points: 22

First trophy won: Taca de Portugal (TdP), 1975

Latest trophy won: TdP, 1997

Most Successful Manager: José Maria Pedroto – 6 points (1974-1976)

Founded a year before SL Benfica, ‘the Panthers’ enjoyed a golden era in the 1970s under the management of future Porto legend José Pedroto. Boavista won their first ever major trophy, a Portuguese Cup, in 1975 by beating Benfica in the final. They then retained the trophy the next year whilst coming 2nd to ‘the Eagles’ in the Premier League. Boavista won another Cup in ’79 (the first ever Portuguese Super Cup also).

The club won two more cups in the 1990s. In 2001, Boavista reached the summit and were crowned Portuguese champions. This is just the 2nd time a club outside ‘Os Três Grandes‘ (Big Three) have won a Premier League and Boavista won it whilst conceding just 22 goals.

4. CF Os Beleneses

Success Points: 25

First Trophy Won: TdP, 1927

Latest Trophy Won: TdP, 1989

Most Successful Decade: 1940s – 10 points

Before the Portuguese Premier League launched, the ‘Big Three’ had room for one more club. In the years between 1922-1938 when the Portuguese Cup was the only national competition, Beleneses won three of them within fourteen years of its formation, and that put ‘The Bethlehem’ amongst the ranks of the nation’s biggest clubs. In the 1940s, as war raged across Europe, Beleneses won another Portuguese Cup before winning their first Premier League in 1946, beating Benfica to the crown by one point.

The club steadily declined in the 2nd half of the 20th Century yet achieved two more Portuguese Cup triumphs in 1960 and 1989. CF Os Beleneses turned amateur in 2018.

3. Sporting CP

Success Points: 210.5

First trophy won: TdP, 1923

Latest trophies won: Taca da Liga (TdL), 2022

Most successful manager: József Szabó – 24 Success Points (1937 – 1944)

In 1906 a man named Jose Alvalade and others ended their membership of the Campo Grande Football Club due to a disagreement over whether the club should focus on sports …or hosting picnics. Three months later, with the financial backing of his grandfather, the Viscount of Alvalade, he founded Sporting, declaring he wanted Sporting to be “…a great club, as great as the greatest in Europe.”

To this end he built Portugal’s most advanced football ground and the club won its first Portuguese Cup in 1923. ‘The Lions’ really came of age with a spectacular period from 1940-1954 when they went on a barnstorming run, winning nine Premier League titles and five Portuguese Cups and spearheaded by a quintet of forwards dubbed the ‘5 Violins‘. In 1964 Sporting grabbed its first European trophy, the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup.

It continued to win Titles and cups throughout the ’60s and ’90s, but lost ground to their two rivals. In the 21st Century, however, the Lions won 8 cups between 2002 and 2019, including a PL-Cup double to give a new generation of Sporting fans memories of glory. Sporting then achieved a PL-League Cup double in 2021 in the ‘Covid Crazy Season’.

Thus, Sporting has maintained its profile as one of Portugal’s ‘Big Three’. Sporting’s most successful decade was the 1940s, scoring 56 of its 261.5 points.

2. FC Porto

Success Points: 319

First trophy Won: TdP, 1922

Latest trophies won: TdP and TdL, 2023

Most successful manager: Artur Jorge – 37 Success Points (1984-1987 and 1988-1991)

After a false start in 1893, a gentleman named Antonio Almeida founded ‘The Dragons’ of Porto in 1906. The club won the inaugural Portuguese Cup, defeating Lisbon rivals Sporting in the final, and they also clinched the first ever PL Title in 1935. Porto slumped during the ’40s but kicked on with filling up the trophy cabinet until the 1960s when it suffered another trophy drought. They’ve won more and more titles and cups ever since, though they’re still yet to win a League Cup.

Under club legend Artur Jorge, Porto came from outside favourites to beat Bayern Munich in the 1987 final to grab it’s first ever European Cup. Porto had a fantastic 1990s and won a record 5 PLs in a row. Manager superstar Jose Mourinho joined the club in 2001. He won the club’s first ever Europa League two years later and then a Champions League the year after that. That season would also see Porto win a PL and Intercontinental Cup, a spectacular achievement for a Portuguese club! Porto won another Europa League in 2011.

Porto’s most successful decade is the 2000s with 90 Success Points. It’s not just a giant in Portugal but in Europe too.

1. SL Benfica

Success points: 384

First trophy Won: TdP, 1930

Latest trophies won: Premeira Liga, 2023

Most successful decade: 1960s – 88 points

Most successful manager: Jorge Jesus, 44 Success Points (2009 – 2015)

Benfica FC: Portuguese top dogs; so successful have they been they’ve hoarded 44% of all PL Titles plus more than a quarter of all Portuguese Cups. It’s where one of Europe’s greatest players, Eusebio, made his name too.

‘The Eagles’ started out in 1904 but struggled with poor management and finances to the extent that, in frustration, eight players quit to join crosstown rivals Sporting in 1907. Benfica won its first major trophy in 1935 and has been cramming more and more silverware into its trophy room since. The club lost a bit of steam in the ’90s and 2000s and added ‘only’ 4 PLs and 5 other major trophies in that period.

Benfica achieved 3 PLs in a row with managing great, Lippo Hertzka from 1935-38. Under another Hungarian, János Biri, Benfica won another 3 titles in a row, plus the first of 11 domestic doubles from 1942-45. In 1961, under Joaquim Bogalho‘s presidency and Eusebio’s arrival, Benfica reached its zenith and placed a stranglehold on Portuguese football. It clinched 2 European Cups from 61-62, beating Barcelona-Real Madrid. It also managed no less than four ‘Tris‘ (3 consecutive PLs) from 1961-77 and 5 Portuguese Cups. More recently the club managed a ‘Tetra‘ (4) from 2014-17.

8 Most Successful Clubs in Portugal

PositionClubSubpoints TotalsTotal Points
1SL Benfica
LC: 7 x 2 = 14

AC: 29 x 3 = 87

CL: 2 x 8 = 16

T: 38 x 7 = 266

+1 (Treble)
2FC Porto
UEFA SC: 1 x 2 = 2

FIFA CWC: 2 x 3 = 6

LC: 1 x 2 = 2

AC: 23 x 3 = 69

EL: 2 x 6 = 12

CL: 2 x 8 = 16

T: 30 x 7 = 210

+2 (Treble)
3Sporting CPLC: 4 x 2 = 8

AC: 21 x 3 = 63

UEFA CWC: 1 x 6.5 = 6.5

T: 19 x 7 = 133
4CF Os Beleneses
6 x 3 = 18

1 x 7 = 7
5Boavista FC
5 x 3 =15

1 x 7 = 7
6SC Braga
2 x 2 = 4

3 x 3 = 9
7Vitoria SC
1 x 2 = 2

3 x 3 = 9
8AA Coimbra
2 x 3 = 6


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