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5 famous football jinxes which have stood the test of time

arsene wenger
Arsene Wenger always seems to get the better of Tottenham eventually
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Ashwin Hanagudu

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Sometimes in football like in life, somethings are just not meant to be. Every year, every season, we feel the inevitable things happening over and over again. Many times, these jinxes have come close to being broken, but at the last moment somehow or the other, these teams or players have faded away at the key moment.

We take a look at 5 major jinxes in the world of football which have stood the test of time:

#1 Tottenham just cannot finish above Arsene Wenger in the League

Ever since Arsene Wenger took over Arsenal in 1996, there have been two things Arsenal fans can be certain of: A finish in the top 4, and more importantly finishing in the league above their bitter North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

Tottenham have come extremely close on several occasions, but at the last moment they have always choked to allow the Gunners to celebrate what they now call as St. Totteringham’s day season after season.

This season, Mauricio Pochettino’s men looked all set to finally end their hoodoo, but, once again Arsenal pipped them at the very end to finish above Spurs.

On the final Premier League matchday of the 2015/16 season, Arsenal faced Aston Villa while Tottenham travelled to already relegated Newcastle United. Only a loss to Tottenham could have made them finish below Arsenal and Newcastle duly obliged the Arsenal fans by thrashing Tottenham 5-1.

Arsenal meanwhile cantered to a 4-0 victory over Aston Villa which saw them overtake Tottenham and finish second in the league ahead of Spurs who finished third. For the majority of this season, Tottenham were the much better team and they even had a genuine shot at the Premier League title. However, a collapse in their last 3 matches ensured that Arsene Wenger preserved this record.

#2 Benfica’s inability to break the curse of Béla Guttman

bela guttman
Gutmann guided Benfica to successive European Cups in 1961 and 1962

Bela Guttman – the manager whose curse Benfica are yet to break

Bela Guttmann might have been a master tactician, won loads of trophies as a manager, might have pioneered the 4-2-4 formation along with Márton Bukovi and Gusztáv Sebes, mentored the legendary Portuguese forward Eusébio and come up with gems like “the third season is fatal” and advocated the need for not staying at a club for more than two years, but he will always be remembered for just one thing. Not just by the people in Benfica but football fans all over the world as well.

After winning back-to-back European Cups in 1961 and 1962, the latter against Real Madrid in Amsterdam, Benfica’s coach Bela Guttmann walked into the board room requesting for a pay-rise. Having guided his side to the pinnacle of European football twice in two seasons, the Hungarian was well within his right to ask for a raise in his contract. But, he was rejected and Guttmann promptly proceeded to walk out of the club. But not before he cursed the club and declared: "Not in a hundred years from now will Benfica ever be European champion".

Benfica have gone on to lose all eight of their subsequent European finals, including five European Cup finals (1963, 1965, 1968, 1988, and 1990), and three UEFA Cup/ Europa League finals (1983, 2013 and 2014). Before the 1990 final, which was played in Vienna, where Guttmann was buried, Eusébio even prayed at his grave and asked for the curse to be broken, but it has been of no avail as Benfica just cannot seem to win a European final no matter how hard they try.

#3 Lionel Messi’s failure to win a major international trophy

lionel messi
Messi shocked the world by announcing his retirement from international football

Lionel Messi has won every individual and club prize there is to win. A player who is capable of singlehandedly winning matches for his country, Lionel Messi, apart from a solitary Olympic Gold medal has failed to win a major international trophy with the Albiceleste.

The Barcelona superstar has suffered heartbreak plenty of times in international tournaments narrowly missing out on the World Cup in 2014 and the Copa America titles in both 2015 and 2016. The heartbreak of missing out on another international trophy on penalties proved to be a bit too much for the Argentine maestro with Messi calling time on his international career.

5 time Ballon d’Or winner, 4 time Champions League winner, 8 La Liga titles, but 0 international trophies. Lionel Messi has just one thing missing in his career, but after losing 4 finals, Messi must be feeling that he is destined to never win an international trophy with his beloved Argentina.

Fans of the little magician will be hoping that Messi reconsiders his decision to retire and has one final crack in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

#4 Arsene Wenger’s inability to win against Jose Mourinho in the Premier League

wenger and mourinho
Mourinho always seems to get the better of Wenger in the Premier League

The stats paint a very clear and simple picture: Mourinho just does not lose against Arsene Wenger. This season of the Premier League promises to be an exciting one with Jose Mourinho, Antonio Conte, Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola and Arsene Wenger set to go head to head.

The new Manchester United manager will be relishing another opportunity to face Arsene Wenger. The pair of them have faced each other 13 times in competitive fixtures since the ‘special one’ took over at Chelsea and Mourinho has not lost a single match against Wenger.

There is no love lost between the two and although Wenger did manage to get the better of Mourinho in the Community Shield, his Arsenal side slumped to a defeat to a struggling Chelsea last season. Whatever the circumstances, Mourinho always seems to get the better of Wenger in competitive matches.

Mourinho's record against Wenger in the Premier League
Games PlayedWDLGoals forGoals Against
13760215

#5 Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s failure to win a Champions League title

zlatan ibrahimovic manchester united
Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be playing in the Europa League this season

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has played for some of the biggest clubs in Europe. He has had extremely successful stints at Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain, managing to win the League title with each of these top clubs. However, one trophy has always slipped his grasp and that is the Champions League.

However, the Champions League has always eluded him and the 34-year-old has marked it as one of his goals. But the Swedish striker had earlier stressed on the fact that his career will still be considered great if he fails to win the much coveted European title.

“I have yet to win the Champions League and that is one of my goals,” Ibrahimovic said. “But my career will still have been great if I don't win it. My museum is already huge. I have had the chance to play alongside players who have won all kinds of trophies.”

“And I have won a lot of trophies myself as well. We will see if I can win the Champions League, but I am already satisfied with my career either way.”

He came closest to winning the Champions League at Barcelona, but a Mourinho masterclass by his former team Inter Milan ensured that his much favoured Barcelona side crashed out in the semi-final.

With Ibrahimovic now joining Manchester United, the dream of winning a Champions League seems far away as the Red Devils will be participating only in the Europa League this season.

Edited by Staff Editor
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