Benfica - blowing away their rivals in women's game

Only launched at the beginning of this season, the Benfica women's team have enjoyed a stunning start to life in the Portuguese league, terrifying opponents as they advance at an average of 17 goals a game.

Indeed, 17-0 was the scoreline when Benfica went to Damaiense back in November. It was only 9-0 when the sides met again earlier this month.

There have been some incredible results, more like rugby scores: 19-0, 28-0, 22-0, 28-0 again, but the record for a game in Portugal came when Benfica beat hapless Casa Povo Pego 32-0 at the end of January.

Darlene Souza, the team's Brazilian captain with her tattooed forearms, no longer celebrates her goals so effusively as Benfica run away with game after game.

With club great Rui Costa, now Benfica's sporting director, often watching on, the Eagles are top of the Portuguese second division with 16 wins out of 16, an incredible 273 goals scored and none conceded.

They may have been forced to start outwith the top flight, but Benfica are determined to make their women's team genuine competitors to the likes of Sporting and Braga.

"We are a first division team playing in the second division," admits team manager Ana Filipa Godinho.

"This season we are targeting promotion and winning the Portuguese Cup. Next year we want to challenge for the title and get into the play-offs for the Champions League, even if our budget is still a long way away from teams involved in that competition at the moment."

Portugal's biggest and most successful club have still invested heavily in creating a strong women's section.

The team has a professional structure, backed by physical trainers and a coach, Joao Marques, who was in charge of Braga in the top tier last year.

The infrastructure remains modest when compared to the men's game, but the recruitment of internationals like Portugal's Raquel Infante and Silvia Rebelo and the Brazilians Rilany Silva and Souza has helped the team quickly become successful.

All they want now is to come up against players of a similar standard to them on a regular basis.

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