Preview: 2013/14 UEFA Europa League – Final
Europa League Final will be played between SL Benfica and Sevilla FC tonight in Turin at Juventus Stadium.
The Portugueses entered the competition in Round of 32 after being ”relegated” from Champions League Group Stage, that they ended in third place, and, still undefeated, they kicked out FC PAOK, Tottenham Hotspur, AZ and Juventus FC.
According to us (Maxi Lozzo) Benfica is maybe stronger than the Spainiards – we’ve already included them among favorites - and should be favorite, but they won’t be able to field three disqualified players and recently look ”afraid” of winning.
Moreover there’s Guttmann’s curse !
Béla Guttmann was an Hungarian/Austrian manager, who led great Eusébio‘s Benfica to conquer two European Cups in a row in 1960/61 and 1961/62: after the second triumph and ending Portuguese Championship on third place (he said that he couldn’t win both because Benfica’s ass isn’t big enough to sit on two seats), he asked his Club for a prize, but his request was denied because that wasn’t written on his contract.
So Béla Guttmann got very angry, left the club and cursed it, stating that Benfica wouldn’t have won another European Cup and no Portuguese team would have won two European Cups in a row in the following century.
Both of these facts have never more happened, and Benfica lost 5 European Cups and 2 UEFA Cup/Europa League Finals since that day: before 1990 European Cup Final between Milan and Benfica, Eusebio visited the Jewish Cimitery of Vienna and prayed on his former manager’s grave (he died in 1981 at 82) in order to end the curse, but that was useless.
You’re free to believe or not on this course, but in our opinion this story could psychologically affect a bit the performances of few Benfica players, that could unintentionally enter the pitch with more “pressure”.
Anyway Guttmann spoke about European Cup, but it isn’t clear if he meant just European Cup/Champions League or UEFA Cup/Europa League as well: in this second assumption a Benfica victory wouldn’t break the curse.
Porto won two European titles in a row (an EL and a CL under Mourinho), so the curse must have been referred just to European Cup/Champions League, otherwise it would have been already broken, at least a part of it.
Coming back to more concrete speeches, Sevilla FC entered Europa League in the Preliminary Rounds, in which defeated FK Mladost Podgorica and Śląsk Wrocław: in the following Stage survived a Group with Slovan Liberec, Freiburg and Estoril, while in the Knockout Rounds beated NK Maribor, Real Betis Balompiè, FC Porto and Valencia CF.
After a not very good start of the Season, the Spaniards had a very good Spring, including a quite long winning streak, that led them to 5th/6th place in La Liga, close to Champions League positions: moreover they, that can field players like Ivan Rakitic, Diego Reyes, Carlos Bacca and Alvaro Negredo, besides being in a very good form, could have a little psychological advantage, because, unlike SL Benfica, they won all the two (UEFA Cup) Finals that they have played, and in our opinion that could fill the eventual technical gap.
SEVILLA FC (4-2-3-1): Beto; Coke, Pareja, Fazio, Alberto Moreno; Carriço, Mbia; Reyes, Rakitic, Vitolo; Bacca
SL BENFICA (4-2-3-1): Oblak; Maxi Pereira, Luisao, Garay, Siqueira; André Gomes, Amorim; Gaitán, Sulejmani, Lima; Rodrigo