2010/11 was Portugal's best overall year ever in Europe, at least by the numbers. We were the top ranked team in Europe, closed out the Europa League finals (and had three teams in the semis), and nearly set a record for most UEFA points in a single seasons. 2011/12 was no slouch either, with a 5th place finish ahead of Italy and France (though behind Holland) on 11.833 points. Benfica got to the quarters of the Champions League and Sporting reached the semis of the Europa League. The past two years have set a pretty high standard in European play. But in looking at how we're situated this year, I think it's going to be possible for Portugal to make a run at meeting or exceeding its past performances. Here's why: --Champions League: Three teams qualified for the group stage after Braga sneaked past Udinese after a couple scrappy draws and a penalty shoot-out, to join Porto and Benfica. I think this may have happened before (anyone know for sure?), but what's truly novel is that each of the three teams was in Pot A or B, meaning that they got favorable draws (relatively favorable, at least, considering that no team in the CL is ever a doormat). Check out our teams in Groups A, G, and H and you'll see that each one has a plausible chance of going through to the next round, as well as a plausible shot to rack up UEFA points from group stage wins: http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsle...tml#holders chelsea handed juventus challenge --Europa League: The B-level tournament gets less attention, but in many respects it's an easier way to earn UEFA points. Fewer opportunities for bonus points, of course, but also weaker opposition. And also less obvious but very important is that in previous years, we've usually had 1-2 teams (usually 2) flame out in the group stages, leaving them with a paltry number of points for the year, and since the UEFA points total for a country reflects an average of each team's performance, having 2 teams with only a handful of points can make it really hard to earn a double-figures average. This year, for the first time ever (again, I think--correct me if wrong of course), all three of Portugal's possible UEFA qualifiers made it through to the group stage. The draw is not out yet but Sporting, Maritimo, and A. Coimbra will all be in it. This is huge, since crossing that threshold means that all three teams will have the chance to rack up points over the six games of the group stage, so even if they all don't move on to the next round, they'll be able at least to help Portugal's UEFA point total. In other words, it's shaping up to be an exciting year. As someone who (for God knows what reason) has been closely watching Portugal's UEFA standing for some time, I think there's a real chance for this to be a watershed year where we not only get a lot of points, but also have excellent, consistent representation from all participants, instead of having a couple standouts and a couple flame-outs. Stay tuned for the Europa League draw tomorrow.