Ahead of today’s Madrid derby Copa del Rey final (kickoff 3:30pmET at the Bernabeu), Jacob Steinberg compiles The Joy of Six: Madrid derbies: the 1959 European Cup semi-finals, the 1960 & 1961 Copa del Generalísimo finals, “Raúl’s extended revenge”, Atlético’s last win (in 1999!), and more.
Jesus hopes to resurrect Benfica and break European curse - column by Louis Taylor on Guardian Football ahead of today’s Europa League final in Amsterdam:
Benfica trust that a coach named Jesus can lead them out of the continental wilderness. On Wednesday night in Amsterdam, Jorge Jesus will attempt to outwit Chelsea’s Rafael Benítez as Portugal’s most glamorous club strive to win their first European prize for 51 years.
Should Jesus succeed in securing the Europa League trophy, he will be seen as having finally lifted the curse of Bela Guttmann. For some time now Benfica fans have regularly laid flowers at Guttmann’s graveside in Vienna in the hope that such gestures might somehow invalidate a chilling, five-decade-old pledge made by the coach who led the Lisbon side to two successive European Cup triumphs in 1961 and 1962.
A Hungarian Jew who survived the Holocaust and began his working life as a dance instructor, Guttmann was a brilliant tactician, credited with inventing 4-4-2 while managing Brazil’s São Paulo in the 1950s before showcasing Eusébio’s extraordinary skills in a fabulous Benfica team.
After Barcelona fell to the Portuguese side in the 1961 final, Real Madrid were vanquished a year later with Eusébio scoring twice as Benfica prevailed 5-3 – coincidentally in Amsterdam. At the end, Real’s Ferenc Puskas, handed his shirt to Eusébio and, as the 20-year-old from Mozambique grasped hold of it, a baton appeared to have been passed.
Who knows what heights Benfica might have subsequently hit but Guttmann – an always prickly personality whose first act in Lisbon was to fire 20 players – promptly demanded a pay rise and when directors turned him down he stomped off in a huff. Even worse, the coach’s parting shot was a claim that the team from the Estádio da Luz would pay for their folly by never experiencing European glory again.
via @XIQuarterly: “I’m not sure about you, but I’m pretty confident this is the best team photo we’ve ever seen.”
Thinking Football Film Festival es un festival de cine documental y fútbol de temática social que se desarrollará entre el 29 de abril y el 4 de mayo en la Sala BBK de Bibao.
NBC paid $250 million for the next three years for English Premier League broadcasting rights, and it looks like it’s a huge win for American soccer fans.
The network announced how it plans to show EPL games today, and basically, you’ll be able to watch any EPL game you want if you get NBC Sports Network.
All 380 EPL games will be aired live on TV in some capacity. Of those, 154 games will be shown on NBC Sports Network, 22 will air on other NBC Universal channels, and 20 will air on NBC.
The other 184 games will air on a package of overflow TV channels that you will get for free as long as you have NBC Sports Network. We imagine this is similar to the clump of channels for NBA League Pass that only show live games.
All games will also be available for live-streaming on the NBC Sports Extra website and app, which you have access to through your cable provider.
Get two screens set up for the first legs of the quarterfinal ties. Two good matches today and two more tomorrow (all of them back to the usual 2:45pET kickoff for those of us in the USA).
Fixture info above via UEFA.com
Lampard enjoying a pint for breakfast this morning at Woodwork