Spurs vs Benfica - Lisbon Greaves Tonight

Tonight Tottenham will play host to Benfica in the first leg of their Europa League’s last 16 tie. It is a mouth watering clash for Spurs fans as Tim Sherwood will want to see his team bounce back from the 4-0 humiliation at the hands of Chelsea.

On Saturday, Spurs showed lack of spirit against the West Londoners and we paid heavily because of our defensive blunders. Benfica’s current form makes this match even more interesting, the Portuguese giants have registered 21 wins in their last 23 matches.

Last time these two sides met in Europe, half a century ago, sparks flew. It was probably the greatest ever Spurs side under the legendary manager Bill Nicholson. It was the first side in the 20th century to have completed the League and FA Cup double, considered impossible until that point.

Not just the North Londoners, it was arguably the greatest ever Benfica team too. Portuguese legend Eusebio, one of the finest players ever to have graced the game, was the backbone of the side which reached 5 European finals in that decade and came out victorious twice.

Spurs boasted tremendous players 52 years ago, Dave MacKay, Cliff Jones, John White, Jimmy Greaves, Danny Blanchflower, Bobby Smith, you could go on and on. Tottenham were quick learners too and in their debut of the European competition they reached the semi finals to face the already champion side Benfica.

To get there we defeated Górnik Zabrze (Poland 10-5 on aggregate. We lost the first-leg 4-2, Jones, Dyson and, won the second-leg 8-1 with goals from Blanchflower, Jones hat-trick, Dyson, White and two from Smith.


We then defeated Feyenoord (Holland) 4-2 on aggregate, winning the first-leg 3-1 with Dyson scoring again and two from Saul before drawing the second-leg 1-1 at home with Dyson keeping up his goal a game record.

The Quarter-Final saw us pitted against Dukla Prague of the then Czechoslovakia who we defeated 4-2. We lost the away leg 1-0 but turned it around at White Hart Lane with two goals from Smith and two from MacKay.

Then came the semi-final. In the first leg, Benfica easily edged out Bill Nicholson’s men and the game ended 3-1 in favour of the Portuguese club with Smith getting an away goal to give us hope. The Tottenham side were intimidated by the atmosphere is the first half. The attendance was down as 60,000 but it is though 86,000 were present in a stadium years ahead of it's time.

Jimmy Greaves had a goal disallowed for offside and we missed several chances. Right near the end though Smith was given offside with two Benfica players standing on the goal line, that goal would have made the return tie a different prospect.

For the second leg at the White Hart Lane a crowd of approximately 60,000 turned up. The atmosphere and the air before the match suggested that Tottenham could turn things around and reach the final in their first ever European Cup competition. London humour was in evidence with banners shouting “LISBON GREAVES TONIGHT”

But Benfica took the lead through an Aguas goal in the 15th minute to give us an uphill task. Spurs pulled two goals back through Blanchflower and Smith  reducing the aggregate to 4-3. It was a good come back yet Spurs fell one goal short of a replay at a neutral Brussels. The ground shook that night, the supporters sang, Greaves had another disallowed for offside, why nobody knows.


Tottenham have the opportunity of partly making up for that loss in the Europa League tonight, a competition that still allows you to meet all sorts of teams from all round Europe, rather than the same old same old of the Champions League.

White Hart Lane is in for another pulsating tie, the manager has publicly berated his players, the players have no choice but to publicly show heart, desire, commitment, passion. If they don't, they will stand out a mile and their future at the club will be in serious doubt ahead of the summer culling.

Let us hope that this time the banner is right and LISBON GREAVES TONIGHT.

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