If we look at the history of the European Cup, we see that the first absolute king of the competition was the Real Madrid. The whites won the first five editions of the tournament consecutively. However, there was a team that put an end to that. Was the Benfica, who managed to lift the next two European Cups, already in the 60s. Here we will review those glorious years and the famous ‘curse’ by Bela Gutman, that still endures in time.
BEGINNINGS AND FIRST TITLES
Go ahead that the Benfica is the most awarded team in the history of Portugal. It was created in 1904, and is next to Porto and its neighbors from Sporting de Lisboa, one of the three founders of the league in his country. A league whose first edition was played in 1933, well before the glorious time that we will break down below, and that the eagles team (as Benfica is known) has won 37 times. Also, along with the other two founders, they are the only ones who they have never descended
In the 30s and 40s, Benfica would win the league 6 times and the Cup four more. His first international title would be in 1950, when he won the Copa Latina to Lazio in the semifinals and at Girondins of Bordeaux in extra time in the final (2-1). In 1954 the old and pioneering Da Luz would be built. In 1957, the club won the double in Portugal and that would allow him to play for the first time in his history the newly created European Cup.
BELA GUTMANN AND THE CLUB’S FIRST EUROPEAN CUP
In 1959, one of the most important events in the ‘life’ of Benfica. After having won the league with Porto, they decided to sign for their bench to the Hungarian Bela Guttmann, who would ultimately go down in history as one of the best coaches always. Guttmann carried out a total revolution in the team, fired 20 players from the first team and gave way to a large number of juveniles.
The truth is that the decision worked perfectly, since in its first season managed to win the league. However, the second campaign in which he led the Eagles was even more successful. In addition to repeat title nationally, Benfica would end the aforementioned hegemony of the Real Madrid, who had won all five first editions of the European Cup, and would take the first in its history.
The rivals that the Portuguese team eliminated were the Scottish Midlothian, Hungarian Ujpest (Hungary was a power at that time), the Danish Aarhus and the Austrian Rapid Vienna, this one in the semifinals. They would be planted in the grand final after having played 8 games, with a balance of 6 wins, 1 draw and only one loss, with 23 goals in favor and only 8 against.
A final in which the Barcelona de Kubala, Kocsis o Czibor, and that he had eliminated the Real Madrid in the semifinals. The match was very close, and despite the initial goal from Kocsis, Águas, Ramallets at own goal and Coluna traced it back. Czibor put emotion to the last leg of the crash, but the 3-2 was the final score. The title was already a reality
EUSEBIO AND THE SECOND EUROPEAN CUP
Here we separate paragraphs despite being two consecutive seasons. And it is that after the success of the 1960-61, in the summer of this year would sign for the eagles, from Mozambican Maxaquene, Eusebio Da Silva, better known as Eusebio. The forward would become the best club history player, and in the best Portuguese footballer ever until the irruption, 50 years later, of a certain Cristiano Ronaldo.
Eusebio would play for 15 seasons at Benfica, in which he broke an impressive number of records and many of them are still valid today. Ganor 11 of those 15 possible leagues, amore than 5 Cups. As if that were not enough, he scored a whopping 473 goals in 440 games, to more than 1 per encounter. It would also be key in Portuguese selection, which he led to finish third in the England World Cup 1966 (He was the top scorer of the tournament).
In his entire career, there were 21 years in which he played 638 games and scored 622 goals. A savage. But title that most concerns us, and surely the most special of his life, was the 1962 European Cup. A tournament to which Benfica arrived as champion and in which on the way he left the Austria Vienna, to German Nuremberg and to Tottenham English in the semifinals. This time he just had to dispute 6 matches to reach the final, with 3 wins, 1 draw and 2 losses.
In the final in Amsterdam I expected Real Madrid. It was a duel at the top, between only two champions of the competition to date. Of course with Bela Guttmann on the bench, the Portuguese overcame a hat-trick de Puskas and an initial 0-2 to end up coming back and winning 5-3. Eusebio scored two goals in that game, those who gave victory to the eagles. A team where they stood out, in addition to the Panther, Águas, José Augusto, Column o Simoes, among others.
THE CURSE OF BELA GUTTMANN: “IN 100 YEARS …”
Finally, the second European Cup, with Eusebio and Guttmann at the head, it was already a fact. Looked like what the club could dominate the continent like its predecessor in title, Real Madrid. Guttmann did not hesitate and for the following season he asked a raise of salary. However, things went wrong in the worst way. To the leaders the Lisbon club did not sit well at all and they decided fire the hungarian coach, the true architect of Benfica’s achievements.
Almost on the spot, and frustrated after his termination, Bela Guttmann then uttered one of the curses most famous in the history of sports: “In 100 years from today, Benfica without me will not win a European Cup”. Many laughed at it, but seeing everything that has happened since then in the history of the eagles it is logical to think that the Hungarian won the club forever.
The numbers are lapidary. Since 1962, the Benfica has played up to 8 continental finals, 5 from the European Cup and 3 from the UEFA Cup and Europa League. HAVE LOST THEM ALL. In fact, shortly before one of them it was possible to see the Eusebio praying at the grave Guttmann to forgive them. It seems that it has not worked.
Of the European Cup, in 1963 they played the first, and lost against the Milan (2-1). In 1965 it would be the second, against the Inter de Milan by Helenio Herrera (1-0). The third, in 1968 against the United in extra time (4-1). The fourth, in 1988 against PSV de Koeman y Hiddink (0-0 and 6-5 on penalties) and the fifth, again against Milan, de Arrigo Sacchi, Rijkard, Van Basten and company, by 1-0 in 1990. In addition we must add those of the 1983 UEFA against Anderlecht (1-0 and 1-1) and the two most recent against him Chelsea in 2013 (2-1) and the Sevilla in 2014 (0-0 and 4-2 on penalties).
THE DRAMA OF 2013 AND TODAY
Without a doubt, the toughest season was 2012-13. In just one week, the Lisbon club lost the league in a decisive match against the Porto, in the 91st minute and in what was his first loss of the tournament; the aforementioned Europa League against him Chelsea, with a goal from Ivanovic in 92; and the semifinal of the Cup of his country, against Braga, on penalties. Jorge Jesús couldn’t believe his bad temper, like all the club’s fans.
Even so, Benfica has continued to dominate in Portugal. As we said at the beginning, it is the most successful club in its country, with its 37 leagues (the last in 2019), 26 Cups and a total of 84 tournaments nationals and tinternational res aforementioned. Now they only have to break the European curse. 59 years ago that was ‘imposed’ on them. Will the 41 they have left to reach 100? In the club they sigh because they are much less.