Four years ago, with Jorge Jesus still in charge, and after a year where Benfica would lose the league, cup and Europa League all in the competitions dying moments. But this year the most decorated club in Portugal were able to snatch away the title from Porto’s hands and start a period of dominance that they have never experienced in Portugal before, winning Liga Nos 4 times on the bounce.
Benfica were the second team ever to win the European Champions Cup, after the 5-peat from Real Madrid, and they had one of the best players in the history of football, the man that stole the show in the 1966 World Cup, the one and only Eusebio, that helped Benfica cement their status as strongest, toughest team in the country.
But there was something that Benfica had never been able to do, and that was winning four titles in a row. A very hard feat to achieve on its own, as that level of consistency takes years to achieve, and also because Benfica, as the top dogs in Portugal, always have two rivals that are much eager to take them down to become the kings of the land. But as much as the achievement in itself would be something impressive, the fans wanted it as much as the lift of Bela Gutmann’s curse regarding European competitions. The reason for that was as simple as fans bragging rights. Because the 4-peat in the top flight in Portugal was something that, out of the 3 Grandes, only Benfica was missing. Both Sporting and Porto have had their period of dominance where they achieved that glory, but Benfica, who actually have the most titles, have never able to achieve that. Until now. Now Benfica have nothing on Sporting, and they are now on course to try and match Porto’s Penta (5 in a row) from the late 90’s.
To win the title Benfica had one of the toughest matches in front of them against Vitória SC, the team playing the most attractive football in Portugal across the whole season, and a team that will fight Rui Vitoria’s men in the Portuguese Cup Final. But the will to give the home crowd that much wanted title was the perfect lift for the Aguias fly away, thrashing their opponents convincingly 5-0, to show that Benfica are now back to their best like when Eusebio sparkled the pitches with his quality.
Benfica are the top dogs in Portugal, not only for their past, but the present too. With all this confidence, there’s only one thing this team is missing, and that is European Glory. One curse at a time, Benfica are exorcising their ghosts and creating a force that seems to have no match in the country.