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Benfica are not ´cursed´, says Rodrigo

14 May 2014 06:47

Benfica striker Rodrigo rubbished suggestions the Portuguese club is 'cursed' on Tuesday, ahead of the UEFA Europa League final.

Last season, Benfica were in the hunt for a treble, as they led the Portuguese Primeira Liga with two rounds to go and were set to play Chelsea in the Europa League final and Vitoria Guimaraes in the Taca de Portugal.

But in just over a fortnight, all three of those trophies slipped through the fingers of Jorge Jesus' men, as Porto defeated Benfica 2-1 in their penultimate league game to leapfrog the Lisbon club in the standings, before they lost by the same scoreline to Chelsea and Vitoria.

Fast forward 12 months and Benfica have claimed their first league title in four seasons, they lifted the Taca da Liga late last month with a penalty-shootout triumph over Portugal, and they await deciding matches in the Europa League and Taca de Portugal again, which could see them claim a historic four trophies in one campaign.

On Wednesday, Benfica will face Sevilla at Juventus Stadium and Rodrigo said the Portuguese club have shown enough over the past month to confirm they have the ability to succeed under pressure.

"The idea that we are cursed comes from the press," the 23-year-old told uefa.com.

"Nobody in the team is worried – we don't believe in any hoodoo and we're not under pressure.

"We will approach the game in a calm manner. I'm not nervous at all and it's just another game to me."

Rodrigo, who joined Benfica from Real Madrid in 2010, has blossomed into a genuine first-team player this season with 31 starts from 41 appearances, plus 18 goals.

The Brazilian-born Spaniard hailed coach Jesus for his development since joining the Lisbon-based club.

"When I came here I was very young," Rodrigo said.

"I have developed a lot as a player and the coach has played a very important role in that.

"Without a doubt this is the third and best season of my career in terms of goals, quality and confidence. I've been working for the group and we've had a great season – a season of triumphs."

Jesus' team return to Turin for the Europa League final with plenty of confidence after accounting for the northern Italian city's most famous club - Juventus - 2-1 on aggregate in the semi-finals.

But the 59-year-old Portuguese coach has predicted a close encounter against Sevilla.

"I think neither side will go into the final as favourites - we both have a 50/50 chance of winning," Jesus said.

"You have to be really good to reach a final, and I have a great deal of respect for this Sevilla side, who will compete in the final with us. They have every right to win this competition outright."

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Info

P 0 - 0 P

Competition
UEFA Europa League
Date
14 May 2014
Kick-off
20:45
Half-time
0 - 0
Full-time
0 - 0
Extra-time
0 - 0
Penalties
4 - 2
Venue
Juventus Stadium (Torino)
Attendance
33120

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Thursday 28 August

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Tuesday 26 August

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