Midweek Mashup – Benfica 1988 and 1990

Previously, we have looked at how all-white kits have become talismans for AC Milan in the final of the European Cup and Champions League – today’s entry may be the counterpoint to that.

All-red kits actually have quite a good record in the continental final, with an incredible run during the 1970s and early 80s. Ajax won the last of their three in a row in 1973 wearing red against Juventus and Bayern Munich were to then piece together a trio of their own, albeit having to wear white against Atletico Madrid in the first of those.

After Bayern came Liverpool’s two on the trot  and both of Nottingham Forest’s final wins, in 1979 and ’80, came in their lucky red shorts. Liverpool were victorious again in 1981 and while the white-clad Villa beat Bayern in 1982, Hamburg restored all-red’s primacy as they beat Juve in ’83 while wearing their change kit and Liverpool won again in 1984.

It was third-time lucky for Juventus against all-red as they beat Liverpool amid the sad scenes in Heysel in 1985, but while Bayern wore a variety of red kits in reaching the 1987 final against Porto, coach Udo Lattek opted for blue shorts which didn’t work their charms.

A year later, Benfica made it to the final for the first time since the defeat to Manchester United at Wembley in 1968. Opposing them as they sought to break the Curse of Bela Guttmann were PSV Eindhoven.

The Dutch club, who had allowed Ruud Gullit to alter their strip two years previously, who lost the toss for choice of shirt colour but, to increase contrast, UEFA mandated that the Portuguese side wear red shorts.


After a scoreless draw, the game went to penalties, where all of the regulation ten were scored before Anton Janssen scored for PSV in sudden-death and António Veloso missed for Benfica.

One other little thing of note was that adidas were making their first strides in breathable fabric – on the left sleeve there was a small ‘Climalite 2000’ tag (thanks to Simon Shakeshaft for making us aware of this).

While they hadn’t won the Portuguese league in 1987-88, Benfica bounced back by winning the title in 1988-89 and made it to the European Cup final once more in May 1990.

There they would face the holders Milan, who naturally opted for all-white, meaning another all-red costume for Benfica, with Hummel having replaced adidas.


Unfortunately for Benfica, whether it was Guttmann’s curse or the red shorts, they fell short again, with Frank Rijkaard’s 68th-minute goal proving to be the winner.

In 1991-92, Benfica roasted Arsenal at Highbury to make the first-ever group stage and, had they beaten Barcelona at the Nou Camp in the final round of fixtures, they would have reached a third final in five years.

Unfortunately for them, they lost 2-1 and the closest they have come to the final since then have been four quarter-final appearances, in 1995, 2006, 2012 and 2016.

4 comments on “Midweek Mashup – Benfica 1988 and 1990

  1. fateck

    I do love an adidas but Hummel sure have their moments. Two lovely illustrations there.

    And you’ve now gor me thinking, does this means Benfica have lost every one of their five finals to sides in away kits?

    All-white Milan at Wembley in 63; Inter in white shirt with blue and black chest hoop at the San Siro in 65: Man U’s all-blue soixante-huitards.

    In fact, even of the two finals they won, only the first, v Barca in Berne in 1961, saw Benfica face an opponent in home kit.

    In the 1962 classic in Amsterdam (Puskas scores a first half hat-trick but ends up on the losing side), Benfica were in their classic home gear but Real Madrid were in the same beautiful colour they wore in Cardiff last year.

  2. denishurley

    Great point, Alex! I think there needs to be an in-depth analysis of the success of home and away kits in C1 finals – do you know anybody who would provide it?

  3. fateck

    It would need to be some sad, middle-aged European Cup bore – probably over-weight and with nothing better to do. God. Can you imagine …

    Aye so I should be back to you within the next half hour, Denis. Just nippimg out to Greggs …

  4. fateck

    Okay I reckon the curator here now, after years of patient teaching, finally has me educated on the difference between a full-on away kit (Milan 1963, Man United 68) and a mere mash-up (Bayern 87, Benfica 88).

    So if it ain’t an away strip unless the shirt’s changed – and allowing for my senile brain farts – here are my off-the-bonce, scientifically negligent, in-no-way-conclusive-or-trustworthy findings:

    Won the ECCC/UCL final in an away kit:

    Milan 1963,
    Inter 65,
    Man U 68,
    Ajax 73,
    Bayern 74 (first game and replay),
    Bayern 76,
    Aston Villa 82,
    HSV 83,
    Steaua 86,
    PSV 88,
    Milan 89,
    Milan 90,
    Barca 92,
    Milan 94,
    Ajax 95,
    Juve 96,
    Real Madrid 2000,
    Milan 2003,
    Milan 2007,
    Real Madrid 2017

    TOTAL: 20 out of 62 finals (counting both 1974 games as one final)

    LOST the ECCC/UCL final in an away kit:

    Real Madrid 1962,
    Benfica 68,
    Club Brugge 78,
    AS Roma 84,
    Barca 86,
    Steaua 89,
    Sampdoria 92,
    Milan 95,
    Juventus 97,
    Bayern 99,
    Valencia 2000,
    Milan 2005,
    Arsenal 2006,
    Man U 2009,
    Man U 2011,

    TOTAL: 15 out of 62

    So even factoring in the odd brain fart from me, and the fact six finals saw both teams in away kits, the message here is you’re slightly more likely to win the final than lose it of you wear an away kit.

    Away kits have worked more often for Milan than against and more against Man U than for but HSV have conclusive (ish*), laboratory test conditions proof they should always wear their away kit in the European Cup final.

    But the vast majority of winners and losers in this final were in their home outfit.

    *HSV’s 1980 jersey – so disconcerting not to see them in the home shorts and socks which play such an integral part of their trad home kit. Need an expert – like the one who told us Steaua’s 1989 final shirt was a change from their home kit that season – to double-check that was the white shirt they wore in the Bundesliga that season, and not a special European shirt …


Leave a Reply