12th May 2014 | Europa League

'Cursed' Benfica Try Again

The Portuguese giants have lost eight consecutive European finals since a former boss declared they would fail for 100 years.

There’s an interesting back story to any continental final involving Benfica which dates back to 1962. It was then that the club’s highly successful coach Bela Guttman quit over a pay dispute and decreed that Benfica would not win another European trophy for 100 years. They have since lost eight continental finals in a row.

The most recent of these losses came to Chelsea in this same competition last season. But the Eagles will line up on Wednesday as favourites (13/10 Coral) against Sevilla, who won the UEFA Cup in 2006 and 2007.

The La Liga team may feel their name is on the trophy after a 94th minute goal was needed to avoid elimination at the hands of Valencia in the semi-finals. Their case will be helped by the absence of three key Benfica players who all miss out through suspension.

The first goalscorer market looks like one of the most intriguing from a betting perspective. Oscar Cardozo shouldn’t be favourite (11/2 Ladbrokes) after an indifferent season by his standards. Rodrigo Lima (6/1 BetVictor) and Kevin Gameiro (7/1 Coral) are the leading Europa League scorers for both sides and therefore will also attract interest.

But instead I’m siding with Carlos Bacca who has a 1 in 2 goal return in La Liga this season. The Colombian international has also enjoyed a prolific European campaign having found the net seven times if you include Sevilla’s qualifying and play-offs. The 27-year-old has since gone on to score in the round of 16, quarter-finals and semi-finals.

The former Bruge star has also had more shots in the Europa League than anyone else who will be on the pitch. At best odds of 15/2 he rates as a strong contender to break the deadlock in Turin with Bet365 who are offering 1/3rd odds if he scores at anytime instead.

Odds correct at time of publishing: 18:53 12th May, 2014 but subject to change

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