The Portugeezer's Midseason Awards

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Liga Sagres is halfway through and it has certainly witnessed some entertaining moments ranging from injury-time winners to Premier League-style goal-fests.

And so, it's now time for The Portugeezer to give the awards to the best and the worst of the league so far.

The Barcelona award for Best Team: SC Braga
Run Braga, run... for the title!

If you'd asked 10 people at the beginning of the season which team would become the 2009/10 Portuguese champions, they would all have told you it would be one of Os Três Grandes – Porto, Sporting or Benfica.

(After all, that's been the case for 73 of the Portuguese League's 75 seasons).

But Braga are currently the leaders – and have managed to defeat each of the famed trio.

They enjoyed a terrific first half of the season and have quietly made wise deals in the January transfer window, bringing back Rentería and Luis Aguiar.

It remains to be seen whether they can maintain their current form, but for now let’s congratulate them for giving people another reason to watch Portuguese football.

The José Mourinho award for Best Manager: Domingos Paciência (Braga)
Hey guys, guess who’s No.1?

Braga had a fine 2008/09 season, and when manager Jorge Jesus went to Benfica it seemed it would be difficult for his successor to top his feats at the club.

Truth is that Paciência already surpassed those expectations by turning Braga into title contenders.

At just 41, Paciência looks like he can become post-Mourinho Portugal's most promising manager.

Can he last the distance and shock the football world by claiming the title?

The Luís Figo award for Best Player: Javier Saviola (Benfica)
A rabbit is always waiting to pounce

A lot of people raised their eyebrows when Benfica splashed €5 million for a past-his-prime Saviola.

Against all odds, the pint-sized Argentinian, who had barely featured in three lost seasons at Barcelona and Real Madrid, rediscovered his old form and has become one of the star performers of the league with his dazzling performances.

Saviola has already netted eight goals in the Portuguese Liga and four in the Europa League, but he offers more than just goals with his ability to open up defences and assist his striking partner Cardozo.

Can ‘The Rabbit’ still make it to the World Cup?

It's highly doubtful, but regardless of that, he will be happy to be take the plaudits once again.

The Aly Cissohko award for Best Signing: Silvestre Varela (Porto)
Cheaper than a bag of crisps, Varela has been a revelation

The ‘Portuguese Drogba’, as he was once dubbed, has come a long way since his Sporting days.

Varela went from being an up-and-coming starlet to a has-been, but last season became his breakthrough season as he starred for cash-strapped Estrela da Amadora.

His potential didn’t go unnoticed and he moved to FC Porto on a free transfer.

Today, the Dragons look a more menacing team when he’s on the field, but what’s more frightening is the fact that both Varela and his team-mates are still to fire on all cylinders.

As far as value-for-money and potential go, there’s nobody near the 24-year-old – and if he leaves the club in the future, expect another huge transfer fee.

The Javier Balboa award for Biggest Disappointment: Felipe Caicedo (Sporting CP) and Keirrison (Benfica)
If only they could hit a cow’s backside with a banjo...

Hard to declare an undisputed winner, because either one of them would be a deserving recipient of this rather unflattering award.

Hailed as the ideal partner for Liédson, Ecuadorian international Caicedo arrived from Manchester City with high expectations and a hefty buy-out clause of €10 million.

Slow, sluggish and deemed surplus to requirements, he had his loan deal cut short and in all honesty Sporting fans have no reason to miss him.

Keirrison arrived on loan from Barcelona who had signed him for €14 million in the summer.

He was introduced as prolific striker and one tipped to shine for Brazil, but he barely featured and when he did he looked like a fish out of water.

The fact Benfica have just acquired two forwards is a sign that his future may lie elsewhere.


...and that’s it for now. Stay tuned for the second half of the season – because, as former Vitória Guimarães president Pimenta Machado once said, “in football, what is held as true today will be regarded as a lie tomorrow.”

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