Ever heard the story where a coach puts a curse on a club over a pay dispute? Well that’s exactly what Bela Guttman did to Sport Lisboa e Benfica, one of Portugal’s most successful teams.
The story goes that Guttman who led the Lisbon club to back to back European Cup triumphs in 1961 and 1962, was furious that club officials would not offer him the pay rise that he so desired. In response he allegedly said that: ‘Not in a hundred years from now will Benfica ever be European champions’. Since 1962 Benfica have lost all eight European finals they have participated in.
Some of the most recent failures include the 2013 Europa League final, where they battered Chelsea for the whole match but lost the game at the death when Branislav Ivanovic headed the winner for the Londoners. There was also the 2014 final of the same competition this time against Sevilla. Once again, Benfica missed a lot of opportunities and were made to pay when the Spanish club triumphed 4-2 on penalties.
Having watched this years final, I really felt there was something else at play besides profligate finishing. You could sense that the players were visibly aware of the curse and the fans too. As the match went on with each opportunity missed, the fear and anxiety at the Benfica end in Turin was palpable. Everyone associated with Benfica has internalized the curse and it has cost them dearly.
Interestingly enough since the curse was placed, domestically Benfica have won 21 League titles and 13 Portuguese cups. Clearly this is a club that is used to winning things, they just need to get over the Guttman curse and let their pedigree speak for itself in European competitions.
Quotes courtesy of Metro: http://metro.co.uk/2014/05/15/benfica-fail-again-in-europe-is-club-still-jinxed-by-the-bela-guttman-curse-4728323/