I’m still from the time a Benfica player could open up or have a festive drink before the European match. Wednesday was synonymous with pagoda, joy and relaxation. Opening champagne or making a caipirinha was an acceptable and appropriate activity at the moment: Benfica would have experienced another moment of European glory; Even when he lost, he left scars on his opponent. He may not remember the younger ones, but after appearing in the ’88 and ’90s, Benfica were one victory away from appearing in the ’92 final, their first prototype for the Champions League.
After sending Arsenal, the champions of England, to the group stage, we entered a group that also included Barcelona and Dynamo Kiev. To get to the final, we needed to win at Camp Nou in the last match. We lost because right-back Jose Carlos, now commentator on “SportTV”, spotted a Bulgarian typhoon named Stoichkov from the front.
Time has passed. Decay has begun, as it has with rebirth in the past ten years. But there is something missing from this renaissance that began with Jesus’ first team in 2009/10: the European greatness that emerged in the Champions League. The best good campaign in the Champions League, with great victories over Barcelona or Man United, over another Portuguese championship.
When was the last big win for Benfica over a great European? If in the past a Benfica player managed to open champagne before the European match, because he knew that the taste of glory would be in his taste, now the Benfica player knows that he must open a more bleak drink, perhaps whiskey, because he knows that the team cannot give a mental leap from Average to European greatness. Even when they dominate a Champions League match, like yesterday, the team is not so self-confident. Even when they have big teams, as is the case this season, the team does not cross the courts of champions in that aristocratic direction, the position of the Duke of Norfolk winning matches single-handedly.
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