AWAYS DAYS! LISBON
A visit to Europe’s most Western capital city is the choice for many a discerning sports fan and tourist and it is not hard to see why.
From the beauty of the city’s trademark seven hills which sweep throughout the landscape to the vast construction of Vasco da Gama bridge spread over the flowing Targus river, Lisbon offers hidden gem after hidden gem – meaning for the nature lover and architect, the city is a never-ending labyrinth of discovery.
When it comes to football, Lisbon holds a special place in the heart of every Celtic fan after the iconic team of 1967 became the first British side ever to win the European Cup, defeating Inter 2-1 at the Estádio Nacional on the outskirts of the city. That was the day the Lisbon Lions nickname was coined and the Scottish club’s East Stand bears that name in honour of the team.
However, away from Scotland and back in the city, Lisbon boasts no fewer than three top-flight Portuguese Primeira Liga teams.
C.F. Os Belenenses are the least famous of the three sides. Known as ‘The Bethlehem,’ they play their home games at the Estádio do Restelo located in the south of the city close to the river with good links to the main A2, A5, and A36 main roads.
A single League title won in 1946 remains the club’s only success to date but is well worth a visit to a game, especially as tickets can be brought at the ticket offices at the ground and cost between €15 and €20 – more if they are playing one of the big three.
The second of the big three are Sporting CP, or Sporting Lisbon as they are also known. The 18-time Portuguese champions have been without a title since 2001, but their conveyor belt of talent seems never-ending. A certain Cristiano Ronaldo started his career at Sporting.
Since 2003, Sporting have played at the UEFA five-star rated Estadio Jose Avalade, and the stadium is part of a multi-million Euro construction which features a 12-screen movie theatre, shopping mall and museum. It’s easily reached by the Campo station on the Lisbon Metro, along with a bus service and ample car parking.
There is though one side that dwarfs all in Lisbon, and that is Benfica. There is no bigger club in the entire country than the current champions, who ended 2018-19 with their 37th League title – a Portuguese record. They’ve also twice been European champions, and won the domestic Cup on 26 occasions.
Benfica’s stature is reflected in their stadium, the Estadio da Luz [Stadium of Light], the largest in Portugal with a capacity of more than 64,000. A visit to this iconic ground is a must for any football fan visiting Lisbon, and it’s served by the Colegio Militar metro so it’s simple enough to get to. Even if there’s no game on it’s still worth a visit as the stadium and museum tour costs only €17.50.