They were appointed and failed
Portuguese football today was out of the ‘eighths’ of the European football cups, a scenario that has been happening for the first time since the distant 1978/79 season, more than four decades ago.
Benfica, FC Porto and Sporting joined Sporting de Braga and left Portugal without any team in the round of 16 of the Europa League, after Vitória de Guimarães ‘fell’ in the group stage and there were no longer Portuguese representatives in the ‘Champions’ ‘.
In the main competition, in which the ‘eighths’ continue in the middle, the first leg completed, the ‘dragons’ were eliminated in the third qualifying round and the ‘reds’ in the group stage.
Thus, Portugal, which was the country most represented in the Europa League round of 32, has no representative in the ‘top 16’ of European competitions, interrupting a 40-year cycle that began in 1979/80.
The 1978/79 season had been the last without national teams in the ‘eighth’, in a season in which the same four teams competed in the last 32 of the second UEFA competition in 2019/20.
Then, FC Porto was eliminated by AEK Athens in the first round of the European Cup (1-6 away and 4-1 at home) and Sporting fell in the same phase of the Cup winners’ cup against Banik Ostrava (two defeats) 1-0).
In the UEFA Cup, Benfica and Sporting de Braga passed the first round, but fell in the second, corresponding to the round 32, the ‘red’ against Borussia Mönchengladbach (0-0 at home and 0-2 away, after extra time) and the ‘arsenalistas’ against West Bromwich (0-2 at home and 0-1 in London).
After that season, and until 2018/19, Portugal has always managed to place at least one team in the ‘top 16′, between Cup and Champions League, Europa League, UEFA Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup, with a record of four in 1993/94 .
In that season, FC Porto reached the semi-finals of the Champions League and Benfica in the same phase of the Cup Winners’ Cup, Boavista reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup and, in the same competition, Sporting fell in the third round.
The worst records, with only one Portuguese representative in the last 16, were from 1980/81, 1984/85, 1988/89, 1997/98 to 2000/01, 2005/06 and 2014/15.