Jesus: This final is international recognition

Benfica coach Jorge Jesus is hell bent on ending a European drought which has encompassed six losing finals stretching back to the 1960's as the Eagles take on Chelsea in Wednesday's UEFA Europa League final in Amsterdam.

It was in Amsterdam that the Portuguese giants saw off Real Madrid to land a second straight European Cup having defeated Barcelona the season before - but since then the Lisbon outfit have suffered only heartbreak.

In 1990, they hoped to break the hoodoo but lost the European Cup final to AC Milan, but now under Jorge they have the chance to put themselves back on the map. "This final constitutes international recognition for what we have recently accomplished," said the 58-year-old who has been at the club since 2009, winning one league title and three league cups.

Against Chelsea, Benfica will have to ramp up morale which took a jolt in Saturday's clasico loss to Porto, whose 2-1 win left the northerners top of the heap while Jesus' men suffered their first loss of the league campaign, snapping a 41-match unbeaten run.

"It is a tough moment as we have a final to play on Wednesday and this defeat hurt us badly," said Jesus, who saw Porto snatch the league crown right at the death last season as could now happen again.

Benfica have a point to make up on Porto with just one game remaining while they also have a Portuguese Cup final date to look forward to. In theory, that means the treble is still on - yet the club could equally end up empty-handed.

This final constitutes international recognition for what we have recently accomplished.
Jorge Jesus, Benfica coach

"We have been through a heavier period than Porto, owing to the requirements of the Europa League - and that has weighed upon us," Jesus, who enjoyed a modest playing career at a swathe of middle-ranking clubs, told reporters after the Porto game.

Since he took the reins, Jesus has overseen a progression through the UEFA standings from 23rd to ninth place. In 2010, they made it to the Europa League quarter-finals, went out in the semis a year later and then made it to the quarters of the UEFA Champions League before falling to Chelsea.

After unearthing players such as Angel Di Maria, sold on to Real Madrid, and David Luiz and Ramires, offloaded for hefy profits to Chelsea, Jesus now is plotting the Londoners' downfall with new faces in the shap of Nico Gaitan and Nemanja Matic, formerly on the fringes at Stamford Bridge.

With his provincial accent and somewhat 1980's look Jesus is very much in his own mould. He quotes variously from the likes of Lenin to French philosopher Pascal. He also has been known to bawl out players furiously, to the point of losing the chewing-gum he munches on during games.

Even so he is a devoted admirer of the principles of "total football total" introduced by the Dutch in the 1970s and he has tried to show as much in his team, favouring fluid, attacking football.

In 2007, he caught the eye of the Benfica hierarchy after leading modest Belenenses to fifth in the league and also the Portugese Cup final. There followed a spell at Sporting Braga before the Eagles finally came calling.

Though his contract runs out at season's end Benfica chairman Luis Filipe Vieira says that an extension is a formality.