Each month we’re sending our sad, lonely, owner of a small TV, drinker of suspect brown liquid, Eurosceptic correspondent to a scout a different league on the continent, and asking him to file a report that veers from his usual ‘faeces on a jumbo jotter’ approach. This month he’s been whisked away to the Iberian pensinula to have a look at the Portuguese league. Brace yourselves.
“ When I was told I’d be heading to Iberia for my next column I have to tell you I was thrilled. Such a storied part of the world, and a chance to stamp over the footprints of those dastardly commies, visit some POW camps, and perhaps see one of their famous tigers up close. Having packed my thickest Barbour jacket, sealskin gloves and snow boots I got on my flight fully prepared for the harsh conditions ahead of me. Whilst on the flight I even treated myself to a tipple of the local “wodka” that I picked up in duty free. Well, 70cl of Rachmaninov later and I wake up like a bear with a sore head to find that we’ve landed. A peep out of the window of the plane, expecting to see the trademark wastelands of Russia and it turns out I’ve landed in bloody Portugal! Presumably there was some kind of mix up with BA, but either way I’m here now so I might as well get amongst it.
I start my journey in the coastal city of Oporto, famed for its fortified wine. Though I’m still working off that nasty Russian rubbish from the flight I can’t help but have a little snifter of the local produce. Three days later and I’m finally ready to see what this city has to offer in terms of football. FC Porto, the boys in blue and white, are top of the league and its no surprise really. They’ve won this league 27 times, though they’re looking to win their first title since 2013 – 2013! I can’t even remember 2013, probably because I was a complete irrelevance back then. They call themselves Dragões, and once you’ve had a few bottles of port you certainly develop something of a fiery breath. Porto are managed by Sergio Conceicao, who used to play for them, so that’s a nice touch. Their squad is made up of a nice mixture of Portuguese and Brazilians, with a few exotic nationalites thrown in there for good measure. Their goalie, Iker Casillas, has fallen out of favour as he’s now past his best. I know how he feels. The two Africans up front – all power and athleticism – lead the way in the goalscoring charts. Vincent Aboubakar, winner at the last African Cup of Nations with Cameroon, has a remarkable 24 goals in 26 appearances in all competitions so far this season, while the Malian Moussa Marega follows up with 13. The winger Yacine Brahimi from Algeria makes things happen on the wings, and they’ve a good spread of experience across the side. Their biggest problem has been holding onto their star players, but that does mean they’ve got an incredibly healthy bank account – I can’t say I’m not envious of that! Expect a few of the team that fire them to league glory this year to be on their way in the summer.
My next stop takes me south to Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. Whilst on my way down I bumped into some backpackers absolutely whacked out on the H-Sauce. Needless to say I promptly reported them to the local constabulary, but apparently they’ve completely decriminalized drug use over here. Unbelievable! How do they expect to become a world powerhouse when the whole country is “blissing out” on “doob vibes”. It’s nonsense. Can you imagine a proud Englishman “chasing the dragon”? Besides the venerable St George of course. Now then, since I’ve managed to step over the prone bodies of “monged up megablarts”, and avoided all the local “acid houses” I’ll be having a look at Sporting Clube de Portugal – a little grandiose if you ask me, so lets call them Sporting Lisbon. The Green and Whites are second in the league and, while their title rivals tend to opt for Brazilians (sensible, since the Brazilian language is very very similar to Portuguese), the Lisbians prefer Argentines. Like Porto, Lisbon are unbeaten so far this season, though when you see the state of some of these outfits that hardly comes as a surprise. Their top striker is Bas Dost, which is an amazing coincidence since that’s my ex-wife’s pet name for me. She’s missing her front teeth you see. Dosty Springfield, as I’ve no doubt the fans call him, is a Dutchman, but don’t let that fool you. He’s scored 16 goals in 17 games so far this season, and last year his scoring record was better than a goal a game. Remarkable! He’s not much help in other areas of the pitch, but that doesn’t seem to matter – the other week he played a whole game having 13 touches of the ball and scoring three goals. Now that’s clinical! You might remember the Sporting president Bruno de Carvalho calling West Ham’s owners ‘The Dildo Brothers’ earlier in the season, which is great great banter, but it did mean that Bojo and I had to file a lawsuit against Gold and Sullivan for infringing on our copyright. We’re currently awaiting an out of court settlement.
I’m staying in Lisbon for my next appraisal, which is good because I’ve got a bit of a dickie tummy and I’m not entirely confident I could keep my business to myself on public transport. This heroin has gone right through me. So next up its Benfica, perhaps the most famous team Portugal have produced. Playing at The Stadium of Light (which, last time I checked, was in the North East of England) the Eagles (which, last time I checked, played in South London), are currently on a hot streak having won the last four Primera Liga titles in a row. It doesn’t look like they’ll be getting a famous five, as their neighbours and Porto have opened up a comfortable cushion. Benfica was of course the home of Eusebio, or The Black Pearl as fans used to call him. I had a black Pearl move in next to me in Dulwich during the seventies – she didn’t last there long let me tell you. Straight onto the phone to the authorities. Now Benfica have already lost a game this season so that’s their title challenge over, but they’ll be keen to qualify for Europe and, since most of this team is made up by fishermen, it shouldn’t be too much of a struggle. There’s still a South American theme in this side, though the Eagles appear to have gone down a hybrid route with Brazilians and Argentinians, and their top scorer in called Jonas. I wonder who his brothers play for! Ha ha. He’s knows where the net is but at 33 he’s getting on a bit, so its up to the Swiss Haris Seferovic to aid his creaking legs. Eduardo Salvio is the creative influence in the midfield, and his six goals so far this season have taken the weight off his geriatric teammates shoulders. The 18 year old goalkeeper Mile Svilar looks a bit like Heath Ledger – he was a druggie wasn’t he? Shame Svilar’s been moisturizing his hands with butter. Third place for the Eagles. Now pass me that belt.
There’s one other team in Portugal that have anything like a serious claim to be good though going by their name you’d imagine they tell everyone that at the first opportunity Sporting Braga are based just north of Porto so it was back on the train I got luckily I managed to pick up some methamphetamines to keep my mind sharp for the journey though I do worry it may affect my usual literary diligence oh well never mind so this team from Braga they’re sat in fourth spot at the moment but I don’t think they’ll be bothering the top two any time soon and they’ve also got a massive lead over fifth place so I think their position might be safe this season these lot play in red and white like the St. George’s Flag and that’s good because I like the St George’s flag their goalkeeper is another Brazilian gosh don’t Brazilian’s love it here I suppose because it’s a bit like Brazil but without all the obvious poverty urgh don’t you just hate the poor and needy they’ve got two boys up front who share out the goals one of whom is call Koka like Joe Cocker I suppose he must get by with a little help from his friends ha ha ha ha also look out for the Horta boys in the midfield they’re both promising particularly Andre Horta I can see him signing for a big club in Europe soon can’t see Braga breaking into the stranglehold at the top of the league so they’re doing pretty well now I’ll have to go as I must have a long sleep.
Ahem. Having reviewed my last report I can only apologise for, aha ha, for erm…oh…what was it? Jeeeeez. Terrible lack of punctuation. Anyway, baby, who’s going down down down? Well let’s have a liddle lookie here. Aha ha ha. Nice. Erm, yeah so, I’m here in Setubal to get the looowdown on Vitoria FC. Not doing so well down there hey little guys? Aha ha. Imagine if a football team was made up of just all dwarves. That would be unreal. They’ve got a lot of guys on their books I’ve frankly never heard of, but most of them are Portuguese and I like that. Stops them moving to the UK and taking jobs that British people could ignore. Their top scorer is Gonçalo Paciência, and he’s got five. That’s not enough little hombre. Plus, Vitoria have only managed two wins so far this season which is WACK. One of those was against Sporting Braggarts. Aha ha. Classic. Not so “Braga” anymore eh chaps? Even so, the team in green and white are in a desperate plight and the only chink of light would be winning their relegation fight, right? Aha ha. Nice. Do you ever just look at your hands and think…wow. These things have touched a lot of surfaces. Wood. Melamine. Glass. Steel. Disinterested women. And yet here they are sat on the ends of my arms and…oh God there’s a lump on my arm. Oh my God. This is it. I’m done for. It’s almost certainly an inoperable tumour. It looks, like Vitoria FC, that I’m doomed!
Now then, that’s quite enough of that awful business. For my final trip I’ve headed to the municipal wasteland Estoril to look at their ailing football team. Oh but what’s this…a harbor? Hello hello. I smell money. Though clearly none of the dough sloshing around these parts has been plowed into soccer. Estoril are sat rock bottom of the league and its not difficult to see why. They’ve only scored 14 goals in 17 games – rubbish. They conceded 35 – pathetic. They’ve lost 11 – useless. Their goalkeeper is over the hill. They’ve overdone this Brazilian fetish that the whole of Portugal seems to have – I mean they’ve got thirteen of them in their squad! THIR-FUCKING-TEEN. This is madness. Oh lookie here, a little bit of digging unearths the fact that the team are bankrolled by Traffic Group Sports who are, brace yourselves, based in Brazil. It’s aggressive emigration at its most blatant. Surely they’re in the breach of rules somewhere or other? They must be. Either way it doesn’t matter because this lot are going straight to where they belong. The second division.
Well I must say Portugal has been an experience. I’ve drank myself into a stupor, taken a variety of narcotics, and even went sardine catching in the Mediterranean. I didn’t catch any sardines, but I did manage to give myself a dose of dysentery. All good fun! Though I think I’ll be steering clear from those naughties from now on – just the statutory gram of cocaine whilst at work for me. Good health!
Err..right, well. I suppose Vile Barrage will be back next month to report on another European league. Though I’m sure we’ve all got out fingers crossed that he falls into a very deep k-hole before then.