"Lisbon shows off while Porto works," is the adage used to describe Portugal's north-south divide. And the flagship clubs of the laid back capital and the industrious northern port, who between them have taken every league title but three over the past 25 years, represent the constant behind-the-scenes domestic power struggle.
Benfica dominated in the 1960's and early 1970s; FC Porto dominated in the 1980`s, 1990`s and 2000`s. Once serious TV money was available, coaches and chairmen influenced the media and officialdom by fair means of foul, with scandal the inevitable result. Porto fans claim corruption allegations against former coach Antonio Oliveira were planted in the Lisbon press. Oliveira and his brother Joaquim own powerful TV and sports marketing company Olivedesportos, while Joaquim runs sports daily O Jogo.
In 1997 Benfica president Joao Vale e Azevedo declared a media war. On the pitch, national team-mates Joao Pinto (Benfica) and Paulinho Santos (Porto) openly declared their hatred of each other, and yellow and red cards were flourished on derby day. Recently, Porto chairman Pinto da Costa was convicted of bribing referees in the 2003-04 season. He did not appeal the verdict, only a two-year ban. Porto were docked points, but not enough to stop them winning another title.
The rivalry has heated up recently when Benfica midfielder Cristian Rodriguez, who was at the end of his contract with Benfica, signed with FC Porto.
Overall (in the Portuguese Liga)
FC Porto have 57 wins and Benfica have 52 with 40 ties.