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03.06.2020 Europe

Pacesetters Porto kick off return of Primeira Liga after Portugal's coronavirus lockdown

By Paul Myers - RFI
MANUEL ARAÚJO/LUSA
LISTEN JUN 3, 2020
MANUEL ARAÚJO/LUSA

Porto will resume their quest for a 29th Portuguese title on Wednesday night with a game at Famalicao. Victory at the Estadio Municipal will give Sergio Conceicao's men a four point lead over second-placed Benfica who resume their campaign on Thursday night at home to Tondela.

The battle between Porto and Benfica for the crown has been a familiar sight in Portuguese football for the best part of 20 years.

Since Sporting hoisted the 2002 Primeira Liga, Porto or Benfica have lifted the title and before the season was suspended as part of Portugal's fight to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, the duo had broken away from the pack.

FC Braga were third, 13 points behind Benfica when professional sports were shut down in the country.

The resumption in Portugal comes three weeks after the German Bundesliga became the first major European league to restart after the coronavirus lockdown.

England's Premier League, Spain's La Liga and Italy's Serie A are all expected to relaunch their championships within the next three weeks.

Legal fight
But as those three leagues contemplate a comeback, three French clubs plan to ask judges to overturn the decision to end the Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 season in April

Amiens and Toulouse were both relegated when the Ligue de Football Professional declared the 2019/20 championship over while Lyon lost the chance to push for a place in next season's European competitions. They will take their grievances to the Conseil d'Etat on Thursday. 

“What we're arguing against is the change of rules while the competition is underway,” said Guillaume Tapie, who heads Amiens' legal team.

“According to the rules, relegation comes after the 38th match and not before. You don't declare one team the winner after 66 of the 90 minutes,” he added.

Lyon wants the resumption of matches.
A decision from the Conseil d'Etat is expected within a week by which time the Bundesliga will have played its fourth round of games since its restart.

Those games have gone ahead behind closed doors and teams have had to follow strict health measures. Similar medical protocols will apply in Portugal.

Health chiefs suggested the matches should take place in a handful of stadiums. But that proposal was rejected and 16 of the 18 Primeira Liga clubs will play at their own grounds.

Santa Clara, a club based on the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean will use the national team's training complex near Lisbon along with Belenenses.

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