The curse goes on. Benfica were bidding to end a supposed curse, which has seemingly hindered them since 1962, when they faced Sevilla in the Europa League final. It wasn’t to be, though, as Benfica lost out 4-2 on penalties and the curse will now continue — as will the rise of the Sevilla star player Ivan Rakitic.
Rakitic has been linked with numerous big clubs — including Real Madrid — recently, and he showed exactly why with his performance in this game. Rakitic is one of those special players who not only has a vast passing range coupled precise vision, but he also marries those attributes up with the ability to travel with the ball, drifting past multiple opponents, taking two and three opposition players out of the game in the process.
The Croatian has similarities with his international teammate Luka Modric in the way he carries the ball up the pitch and then sprays it to a teammate, delivering the ball just when the time is right. Rakitic had interested some big clubs before, and he will only have enhanced his reputation with this game.
Overall the game was closely fought, but there were some blatant chances both ways, especially for Benfica. Sevilla survived to win even without taking those chances, but Benfica did not and they will be disappointed looking back on the chances that they wasted. Benfica had some important players missing through both injury and suspension, but even so, the way the game played out, they could have won regardless.
But they didn’t and talk of the dreaded curse will go on for at least another year now. Benfica last won a major European final in 1962, and when their then manager, Bela Guttmann, acrimoniously departed the club afterwards, he stated that Benfica would not win a major European final for the next 100 years.
It may have sounded farfetched at the time, but now, 52 years later, as the years keep ticking by, not so much. Benfica have lost eight major European finals in that time, including this one, and the talk of the curse will continue until they break it and succeed on a big European stage.
And the talk of Rakitic will also continue. His star has risen to an all-time high this season, and it could be set to continue if the Croatian can shine at the World Cup this summer. A transfer for the playmaker could be on the horizon too. Although as his reputation soars, so will his price, but based on this showing, he’d be worth every penny.