S.L. Benfica in European football

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S.L. Benfica in European football
Eusebio (1963).jpg
Eusébio is the current Benfica player with the highest goal tally in international competitions, with 57 scored as of 2015.
Club S.L. Benfica
First entry 1957–58 European Cup
Last entry 2014–15 UEFA Champions League
Titles
Champions League 2 (1961, 1962)

S.L. Benfica is a Portuguese professional football team based in Lisbon. The club's involvement in European competition dates back to the 1950s. As champions of Portugal, the club was supposed to participate in the inaugural European Champions' Cup in 1955, but for political reasons, it did not. Two years later, Benfica made their European debut against Sevilla in the European Cup, on 19 September 1957.

Benfica won their first European title in 1961, defeating Barcelona to win the European Cup, a title they successfully retained in the following year, when they beat Real Madrid. Since then, they took part in five more finals, in 1963, 1965, 1968, 1988 and 1990, but failed to reconquer the title again. Benfica has also played three UEFA Cup finals, 1983, and most recently, in 2013 and 2014, losing all three. This losses are atributted to the famous curse by Hungarian manager Béla Guttmann in 1962.[1][2][3] Benfica is the Portuguese team with the most UEFA finals played (10), and have the seven-best record in all-time games played.[4]

Benfica is the second most successful Portuguese club in UEFA competitions, with two titles, and the best-ranked in the UEFA club ranking (sixth), being the only Portuguese team to have been ranked first.[5]

Defender Luisão holds the club record for appearances in Europe with 113, while striker Eusébio is the club's leading European goalscorer with 57 goals. Benfica's biggest European win is 10–0, which came against Dudelange in the European Cup in 1965. Their 18–0 aggregate win over the same opposition is a European Cup record.[6]

Background[edit]

For more details on this topic, see [[UEFA competitions]].

The first continental competition organised by UEFA was the European Cup in 1955. Conceived by Gabriel Hanot, the editor of L'Équipe, as a competition for winners of the European national football leagues, it is considered the most prestigious European football competition.[7] When the European Cup was first played, Benfica had just won the Primeira Divisão, but the fascist regime selected Sporting CP to take part in the first edition.[8] During the following years, two further competitions were created: the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup and UEFA Cup Winners' Cup. Established in 1955, the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup was later re-branded as the UEFA Cup when it came under the auspices of UEFA in 1971. Since the 2009–10 season, the competition has been known as the UEFA Europa League.[9] The UEFA Cup Winners' Cup was inaugurated in 1960 for the winners of domestic cup competitions.

In 1957 Benfica won the league, thus making their European debut in the 1957–58 European Cup. In the following years, further European competitions were inaugurated. The first, the UEFA Super Cup, was originally a match played between the winners of the European Cup and the Cup Winners' Cup. First established in 1973, it changed formats in 2000; since then, it has been contested between the winners of the Champions League (formerly the European Cup) and the Europa League (formerly the UEFA Cup), following the Cup Winners' Cup amalgamation into the latter.[10] The Intercontinental Cup was a competition for the winners of the European Cup (later, the UEFA Champions League) and the South American equivalent, the Copa Libertadores. Established in 1960, the Intercontinental Cup was jointly organised by UEFA and the Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol (CONMEBOL). It ran until 2004, when the FIFA Club World Cup, which includes the winners of all six confederations' regional championships replaced it.[11]

European Champions and The Curse[edit]

Benfica first European sucess came in 1950 when led by Ted Smith, they conquered the Latin Cup,[12] by beating French team, Bordeaux at the Estádio Nacional in Oeiras. They would have another Latin Cup final in 1957 but lost to Di Stéfano's Real Madrid.[13] After an unsuccessful debut in 1957–58, losing to Sevilla,[14] Benfica hired Hungarian manager Béla Guttmann, which led them to their first European Cup ever on 31 May 1961.[15] After defeating Hearts, Újpest Dózsa, AGF Aarhus and Rapid Wien, Benfica faced favorites Barcelona in the final, where goals from Águas, Coluna and an own goal from Ramallets helped the club to lift its first European Cup.[16] In the following year, already with Eusébio in the lineup, Guttmann led the team to a European double, after defeating Austria Wien, Nuremberg and Tottenham Hotspur on their way to the final.[17] In 2 May 1962, meeting Real Madrid in the final, a hat-trick from Puskás put the Merengues in the lead before half-time, but Coluna and rising star Eusébio with a double reverted the score to a 5-3.[18]

Not in a hundred years from now will Benfica ever be European champions.

Béla Guttmann in 1962.[19]

After two consecutive European Cup wins, Béla Guttmann approached the Board of Directors and asked for a pay rise, but was turned down leaving the club and professing his famous curse.[20] Benfica replaced him with Fernando Riera, and while the Chilean manager led the team to a third straigt European final, they did not have sucess of Guttman. On 25 May 1963, against A.C. Milan, Benfica chances were slim after an harsh tackle from Trapattoni on Coluna severely debilitate him; in a time that no substitutions existed, Benfica played the rest of the match crippled, with José Altafini scoring a double in the second half.[21][22] After a poor season in 1963–64, Benfica returned to European finals in 1965. Now led by Romanian manager Elek Schwartz, and after eliminating Real Madrid 5–1 in the quarter-finals, the team met Inter Milan which played at home, in a muddy, waterlogged San Siro.[23] A mistake from Costa Pereira allowing a shot from Jair to pass between his legs cost Benfica their second European final.[24] Following two average seasons, which included a record home defeat against Manchester United and the first and only presence in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup,[25] Benfica returned to the European Cup and reached their fifth final. After eliminating Juventus 3–0 in the semi-finals, Benfica faced Manchester United at the Wembley Stadium on 29 May 1968. After Bobby Charlton opened the scored, Jaime Graça equalized in the 79th minute. Near the end of regular time, Eusébio squandered a one-on-one chance against Alex Stepney, with the match going to extra time; then, three Man United goals in eight minutes gave the English their first European title.[26] The next year, the Eagles were stopped in quarter-finals by Ajax after a replay in Paris that required extra-time and, like the year before, Benfica could not retain the nil-nil in extra-time, conceding three goals.[27][28] In 1969–70, Benfica was again unfortunate, losing in the second round to Scottish team Celtic on coin toss.[29] After a mild successful period in the sixties, where it was always one of the top contenders; in the seventies, Latin teams started to lose influence in European stage, as Dutch and German teams appeared stronger. On 1971–72, Benfica lost in the semi-finals to Ajax led by Johan Cruyff, on their way to a second consecutive win.[30][31] In Cup Winners' Cup, Benfica reached the quarter-finals in 1974–75, before being stopped by PSV.[32] Over the course of the late seventies, as historic players like Eusébio, Simões or Coluna retired, Benfica could not reach performances like the decade before, but still had two quarter-finals presences, in 1975–76 and 1977–78. First losing 5–1 to Bayern Munich,[33] and then six-two on aggregate to Liverpool.[34]

Note: Benfica score always listed first.

Chasing the dream[edit]

In the beginning of the Eighties, Benfica domestic dominance had dwindled, leaving the team to play in the second level competitions, like the Cup Winners' Cup or UEFA Cup. In 1980–81, the team reached the semi-finals of the Cup Winners' Cup, where it lost to the more physical German team, Carl Zeiss Jena.[35] This was bested by the performance on the UEFA Cup, two seasons later, in 1982–83 as Benfica reached the final of the competition, defeating Roma from Falcão and Conti on the quarter-finals and meeting Belgian team Anderlecht as favourites to lift the cup. In the first leg, on 4 May 1983, Benfica lost in Brussels with a sole goal from Brylle. In the second leg, fourteen days later, Sven-Göran Eriksson chose not to start Filipović and João Alves, both undisputed starters; with the team drawing one-all and losing another European final.[36][37] The team returned to the European Cup in the following season but another defeat against Liverpool showed the team was not yet ready to compete with Europe's best teams.[38]

After four seasons, in 1987–88, Benfica proved ready to challenge for the European Cup, eliminating teams like Anderlecht and Steaua Bucureşti as they reached their sixth European Cup final, meeting PSV Eindhoven in Stuttgart on 25 May 1988.[39] After an unremarkable goalless draw over 120 minutes, the Dutch team, which had five players of Netherlands which would conquer the Euro 1988 a month later, scored all of their goals on penalties, until Veloso allowed van Breukelen to defend his penalty kick, as the team lost their fourth final.[40] Benfica would return to European finals two years later. With Sven-Göran Eriksson again in charge, a team composed of Brazil's starting centre-backs, Ricardo Gomes and Aldair, together with Valdo and Thern in the midfield, eliminated Marseille with a controversial handled goal from Vata to reach their seventh final.[41] Before the final, Eusébio travelled to Béla Guttman's grave, asking to forgiveness, hoping to end the curse.[3] On 23 May 1990 in Vienna, Benfica faced title-holders Milan, where Rijkaard scored the only goal of the night, passing easily through Benfica defence, after Hernâni stopped momentarily, tricked by an whistle coming from stands.[42][43] In the early nineties, Benfica took part in the last edition of the European Cup before the format change and conversion to UEFA Champions League. The Reds reached the group stage of tournament after a superb performance at Highbury against Arsenal, with Isaías and Kulkov scoring in extra-time.[44] In the group stage, they ended in third place, behind Barcelona and Sparta Prague.[45] In 1992–93 Benfica reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup, beating Juventus at home (their only loss in the competition), but losing 3–1 in Turin.[46] The next season, Benfica returned to the Cup' Winners' Cup, reaching the semi-finals after a crazy 4–4 draw against Bayer Leverkusen passing on away goals. In the semi-finals, Benfica beat Parma at home, with Paneira even missing a penalty; however in the return leg, centre-back Mozer was sentoff in the 20th minute, with the team resisting for 55 minutes, until Sensini scored the only goal of the match.[47] In his debut in the Champions League in 1994–95, Benfica won the Group C, succumbing to Milan in the knockout phase.[48] European performances from then on, did not match Benfica historic record, with only a quarter-final in the Cup' Winners' Cup in 1996–97 to stand out.[49] In the final years of the decade, Benfica performance remain subpar, with their lowest form, a 7–0 loss against Celta de Vigo.[50]

Note: Benfica score always listed first.

Recent events[edit]

After missing two seasons of European football for the first time since 1960,[53] the team returned to European stages in 2003–04, losing to Lazio in the Champions League qualifying round, ending demoted to the UEFA Cup, where it reach the fourth round, losing 4–3 to Inter Milan.[54] After another season without Champions League, the Eagles returned to the main competition in 2005–06, having its best performance in eleven years, knocking Manchester United out of the competiton in the group stage, and eliminating title-holders Liverpool in the first knockout stage, with their first win in Liverpool in history; In the quarter-finals they met Barcelona, losing 2–0 at the Camp Nou.[55][56] The next two seasons were fairly similar, in 2006–07 and 2007–08, Benfica reached the group stage, finished third and was demoted to the UEFA Cup, where it had never reached better than the quarter-finals.[57]

2013 UEFA Europa League final

In 2009–10, Benfica had an exciting run in the newly created UEFA Europa League, reaching the quarter-finals, with wins like a 5–0 beating of Everton and a 2–1 win in Marseille with a over-time goal from Kardec.[58] In the quarter-final's second leg, bringing a 2–1 advantage from home, manager Jorge Jesus made a surprising change, putting David Luiz as left-back, and lost the match 4–1.[59] In the following season, Benfica returned to the Champions League, having another performance similar to 2006–07 and 2007–08; However, with the demoting to Europa League, the team reach their first European semi-final in 17 years, but were surprised by Braga (their first Portuguese opponent ever), missing the chance to progress to the final.[60] For the 2011–12 season, Benfica strengthened their squad with Axel Witsel, improving its performance, progressing all the way to the quarter-finals.[61] In the group stage, Benfica finished first in group C, again knocking Manchester United out of European football, defeated Zenit in the last 16, before meeting with Chelsea, losing 3–1 on aggregate.[62] In 2012–13, Benfica Champions League run was not so successful, with another demotion to the Europa League, but now finally reaching a European final, 23 years after the last. On 17 May 2013, in Amsterdam, Benfica faced Champions League title-holders Chelsea, losing another final, their seventh straight loss.[3][63] In another almost identical season, Benfica was again demoted from the Champions League, to reach the final of Europa League, after a tense match against Juventus in Turin, where the final was to be played.[64] On 15 May 2014, against Spanish team Sevilla – without three starters, Enzo Pérez, Markovic and Salvio, suspended due to yellow cards – Benfica lost 4–2 on penalties, after Rodrigo and Cardozo had their penalties stopped by Beto in a controversial manner.[65] It was the eight straight loss, as the Béla Guttman curse continued.[2]

Last updated: 9 December 2014
Note: Benfica score always listed first.

Overall record[edit]

By competition[edit]

As of 9 December 2014
S.L. Benfica record in European football by competition[66]
Competition Pld W D L GF GA GD Win%[nb 1]
Champions League / European Cup 218 100 51 67 359 234 +125 45.87
Cup Winners' Cup 42 21 12 9 67 34 +33 50.00
Europa League / UEFA Cup 120 61 27 32 189 130 +59 50.83
Inter-Cities Fairs Cup 4 2 1 1 7 5 +2 50.00
Intercontinental Cup 5 1 0 4 6 15 -9 20.00
Total 389 185 91 113 628 418 +210 47.56

By country[edit]

As of 9 December 2014
S.L. Benfica record in Continental football by country[67]
Country Pld W D L GF GA GD Win%[nb 1]
 Albania 2 2 0 0 7 0 +7 100.000
 Austria 8 5 3 0 21 5 +16 62.50
 Belarus 2 2 0 0 4 1 +3 100.000
 Belgium 19 11 4 4 29 17 +12 57.89
 Brazil 2 0 0 2 4 8 -4 00.00
 Bulgaria 6 4 2 0 13 7 +6 66.67
 Croatia 5 3 2 0 6 1 +5 60.00
 Cyprus 2 2 0 0 4 0 +4 100.000
 Czech Republic 6 2 3 1 6 5 +1 33.33
 Denmark 14 12 2 0 29 7 +22 85.71
 England 34 11 6 17 48 59 -11 32.35
 Finland 2 0 1 1 2 4 -2 00.00
 France 28 14 7 7 35 25 +10 50.00
 Germany 40 12 13 15 45 59 -14 30.00
 Greece 15 8 1 6 19 17 +2 53.33
 Hungary 14 9 2 3 37 13 +24 64.29
 Iceland 2 1 1 0 8 1 +7 50.00
 Israel 4 2 0 2 10 7 +3 50.00
 Italy 29 9 5 15 26 34 -8 31.03
 Luxembourg 4 4 0 0 28 2 +26 100.000
 Malta 2 2 0 0 10 0 +10 100.000
 Netherlands 23 10 8 5 38 26 +12 43.48
 Northern Ireland 6 3 3 0 15 6 +9 50.00
 Norway 6 5 0 1 11 4 +7 83.33
 Poland 4 2 2 0 7 2 +5 50.00
 Portugal 2 1 0 1 2 2 +0 50.00
 Republic of Ireland 2 2 0 0 6 1 +5 100.000
 Romania 12 7 4 1 13 5 +8 58.33
 Russia 14 5 4 5 16 15 +1 35.71
 Scotland 10 6 1 3 14 9 +5 60.00
 Serbia 2 1 0 1 4 3 +1 50.00
 Slovakia 2 2 0 0 5 0 +5 100.000
 Slovenia 4 3 1 0 17 2 +15 75.00
 Spain 23 5 8 10 25 35 -10 21.74
 Sweden 8 3 2 3 15 9 +6 37.50
  Switzerland 6 3 3 0 14 3 +11 50.00
 Turkey 9 4 2 3 17 6 +11 44.44
 Ukraine 9 5 0 4 16 6 +10 55.56
 Uruguay 3 1 0 2 2 7 -5 33.33

Finals[edit]

Year Competition Opposing Team Score Venue
1961 European Cup Spain Barcelona 3–2 Switzerland Wankdorf Stadium, Bern
1962 European Cup Spain Real Madrid 5–3 Netherlands Olympic Stadium, Amsterdam
1963 European Cup Italy Milan 1–2 England Wembley Stadium, London
1965 European Cup Italy Internazionale 0–1 Italy San Siro, Milan
1968 European Cup England Manchester United 1–4 (a.e.t.) England Wembley Stadium, London
1983 UEFA Cup Belgium Anderlecht 1–2 Two-legged
1988 European Cup Netherlands PSV 0–0 (a.e.t.) (5–6 p.s.) West Germany Neckarstadion, Stuttgart
1990 European Cup Italy Milan 0–1 Austria Praterstadion, Vienna
2013 UEFA Europa League England Chelsea 1–2 Netherlands Amsterdam Arena, Amsterdam
2014 UEFA Europa League Spain Sevilla 0–0 (a.e.t.) (2–4 p.s.) Italy Juventus Stadium, Torino

Won semi-finals[edit]

Year Competition Opposing Team Score Final venue Other Semi-finalists
1961 European Cup Austria Rapid Wien 4–1 Switzerland Wankdorf Stadium Spain Barcelona
Germany Hamburg
1962 European Cup England Tottenham Hotspur 4–3 Netherlands Olympisch Stadion Spain Real Madrid
Belgium Standard Liège
1963 European Cup Netherlands Feyenoord 3–1 England Wembley Stadium Italy Milan
Scotland Dundee
1965 European Cup Hungary Vasas ETO Györ 5–0 Italy San Siro Italy Internazionale
England Liverpool
1968 European Cup Italy Juventus 3–0 England Wembley Stadium England Manchester United
Spain Real Madrid
1983 UEFA Cup Romania Universitatea Craiova 1–1 (a) two-legged Belgium Anderlecht
Czechoslovakia Bohemians CKD Praha
1988 European Cup Romania Steaua 2–0 Germany Neckarstadion Netherlands PSV
Spain Real Madrid
1990 European Cup France Olympique de Marseille 2–2 (a) Austria Praterstadion Italy Milan
West Germany Bayern Munich
2013 UEFA Europa League Turkey Fenerbahçe 3–2 Netherlands Amsterdam Arena England Chelsea
Switzerland Basel
2014 UEFA Europa League Italy Juventus 2–1 Italy Juventus Stadium Spain Valencia
Spain Sevilla

Lost semi-finals[edit]

Year Competition Opposing Team Score Final venue Other Semi-finalists
1972 European Cup Netherlands Ajax 0–1 Netherlands Feijenoord Stadion Italy Internazionale
Scotland Celtic
1981 Cup Winners' Cup East Germany Carl Zeiss Jena 1–2 West Germany Rheinstadion Soviet Union Dinamo Tbilisi
Netherlands Feyenoord
1994 Cup Winners' Cup Italy Parma 2–2 (a) Denmark Idraetsparken England Arsenal
France Paris Saint-Germain
2011 UEFA Europa League Portugal Braga 2–2 (a) Republic of Ireland Aviva Stadium Portugal Porto
Spain Villarreal

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Win% is rounded to two decimal places

References[edit]

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  2. ^ a b Richard Hookham (15 May 2014). "Benfica fail again in Europe – Is club still jinxed by the Bela Guttman curse?". Metro.co.uk. 
  3. ^ a b c "Not even Jesus can break the Guttman curse! Benfica's 50-year European hoodoo continues with defeat by Chelsea". Daily Mail. 16 May 2013. 
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  5. ^ "Member associations - UEFA rankings - Club coefficients". UEFA. Retrieved 18 April 2015. 
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  12. ^ Tovar 2012, p. 220.
  13. ^ Tovar 2012, p. 261.
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  15. ^ Tovar 2012, p. 287.
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  17. ^ Tovar 2012, p. 294.
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  25. ^ Tovar 2012, p. 334.
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  27. ^ Tovar 2012, p. 343.
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  30. ^ Tovar 2012, p. 365.
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  32. ^ Tovar 2012, p. 384.
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  36. ^ Tovar 2012, p. 440.
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  39. ^ Tovar 2012, p. 476.
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  41. ^ Tovar 2012, p. 492.
  42. ^ "1989/90: Rijkaard seals Milan triumph". UEFA.com. 
  43. ^ "Season 1989-90". europeancuphistory.com. 
  44. ^ Jones, Stuart (7 November 1991). "Arsenal outclassed in extra time". The Times (London). p. 40. 
  45. ^ "1991/92: Koeman ends Barcelona's wait". UEFA.com. 
  46. ^ "1992/93: Juventus claim record third success". UEFA.com. 
  47. ^ Tovar 2012, p. 524.
  48. ^ "1994/95: Kluivert strikes late for Ajax". UEFA.com. 
  49. ^ Tovar 2012, p. 548.
  50. ^ "SL Benfica". UEFA.com. Biggest defeat: 25/11/1999, Celta 7-0 Benfica, Vigo 
  51. ^ English teams were banned due to the Heysel Stadium Disaster
  52. ^ Partizani expelled from competition
  53. ^ Tovar 2012, p. 581,588.
  54. ^ "2003/04: Defence is key for Valencia". UEFA.com. 
  55. ^ Tovar 2012, p. 619.
  56. ^ "2005/06: Ronaldinho delivers for Barça". UEFA.com. 
  57. ^ Tovar 2012, p. 627,635.
  58. ^ Tovar 2012, p. 651.
  59. ^ "Resurgent Liverpool overpower Benfica". UEFA.com. 8 April 2010. 
  60. ^ "Custódio heads Braga into maiden European final". UEFA.com. 5 May 2011. 
  61. ^ Tovar 2012, p. 669.
  62. ^ "2011/12: Drogba ends Chelsea's long wait". UEFA.com. 21 May 2012. 
  63. ^ "2012/13: Ivanović heads Chelsea to glory". UEFA.com. 17 May 2013. 
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  65. ^ "2013/14: Sevilla leave Benfica dreams in tatters". UEFA.com. 26 May 2014. 
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  67. ^ "Sport Lisboa e Benfica International history". Footballzz. 

Bibliography[edit]