The competition involved the 32 clubs playing in the top two tiers of the Portuguese football league system – the Primeira Liga and the Segunda Liga – during the 2011–12 season. Benfica were the three-time defending champions and, as such, participated in their fourth consecutive final. In contrast, it was Gil Vicente's first-ever final in any national competition. Before this match, Benfica were on a 19-match unbeaten run in this competition, with their last defeat coming in a fourth round match against Vitória de Setúbal in October 2007.
Benfica will go into the match as the Taça da Liga title holder, having won the previous three finals, in 2009, 2010 and 2011. This will be the first ever appearance by Gil Vicente in any final. Both teams started at different stages in the competition. Gil started in the second round, having been promoted from the Liga de Honra the previous season. Benfica started in the third round as they finished in the top eight of the 2010–11 Primeira Liga.
Benfica topped Group B with three wins from three games. In the first game of the group stage, they beat Vitória de Guimarães 4-1 at the Estádio D. Afonso Henriques. Their next two group stage games were at home; they beat Liga de Honra side Santa Clara 2-0 before also recording a 3-0 win against Marítimo. This qualified the team for the semi-final, in which they played at home against bitter rivals Porto. Benfica won the game 3-2. The semifinal is so far the most viewed program of the year in Portugal with approximately 4.6 million viewers.
Gil Vicente started their Taça da Liga campaign back in October 2011 in the second round. They were drawn against Belenenses, where they overcame the Liga de Honra side in a two-legged fixture. Following a 2-1 away loss, Gil turned the deficit around with a 2-0 win over Lisbon side at the Estádio Cidade de Barcelos. In the third round, Gil were drawn in Group A against Moreirense, Rio Ave and Sporting. In their first group game they defeated Moreirense 2-1. Their second group game saw them draw with fellow first division side Rio Ave 1-1. Their last group, a winner-takes all affair against Sporting at the Estádio José Alvalade, ended 1-0 to Gil. Gil Vicente topped Group A with seven points and progressed to the semi final stage, where they played Braga. Gil defeated Braga on penalties after a 2-2 draw.
Prior to the match, referee Jorge Sousa was awarded the right to officiate the final by the LPFP, the LPFP also selected fellow referees Pedro Garcia and Paulo Soares as the assistant referees whilst Rui Costa was selected as the fourth official.
The match began with Benfica starting quickest in the starting blocks, in the opening 45 minutes Benfica dominated the ball possession creating several chances. Benfica scored after creating several changes thanks to an attack by Bruno César down the left wing in which he crossed in the box for Rodrigo to open the scoring thirty minutes into the game. Benfica went into the break leading 1-0, they came back into the second half dominating again as they did in the first half. In the 78th minute Gil Vicente got a corner which they capitalized from after several blocked attempts from Benfica's defence, Zé Luís put the ball in the back of the net beating Benfica goalkeeper Eduardo. Six minutes later the winning goal came from Benfica substitute Javier Saviola after Gil Vicente's goalkeeper blocked Axel Witsel's shot which led to the ball falling to the Argentine in which he slotted the ball home into the opposition's empty goal. Benfica's Axel Witsel was named man of the match.