Benfica's 'spider' Matic revels in life after Chelsea

SEIXAL, Portugal Wed May 8, 2013 11:26pm IST

Benfica's Nemanja Matic (L) fights for the ball with Fenerbahce's Dirk Kuyt during their Europa League semi-final second leg soccer match at Luz stadium in Lisbon May 2, 2013. REUTERS/Hugo Correia

Benfica's Nemanja Matic (L) fights for the ball with Fenerbahce's Dirk Kuyt during their Europa League semi-final second leg soccer match at Luz stadium in Lisbon May 2, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Hugo Correia

SEIXAL, Portugal (Reuters) - Influential Serbian international Nemanja Matic is ready to show Chelsea what they lost in next week's Europa League final after he failed to impress in London and was shuttled to Benfica as part of David Luiz's big-money signing in 2011.

Matic has become the undisputable boss of Benfica's midfield, overcoming his lacklustre spell with the Premier League side that left few fond memories.

"To tell you the truth I don't feel anything special for playing against Chelsea," Matic told reporters on Wednesday as he previewed next week's final in Amsterdam. The Serb played only two matches in two years at the English club.

"For me it will be like any other game of the Portuguese League or Cup, except it's a final," he said.

Matic featured mostly as a substitute and understudy for Javi Garcia at Benfica last season but has surpassed all expectations as a regular first team starter after the Spaniard signed for Manchester City.

"Matic is excellent but different from Garcia. He goes up the pitch more often and constructs more attacks. Javi (Garcia) sticked more to defensive tasks," former Fulham and West Ham Portuguese forward Luis Boa Morte told aBola daily.

Matic, 24, has flourished as a complete box-to-box centre midfielder and been crucial to league front runners Benfica as they draw close to a memorable treble of championship, cup and Europa League silverware.

"I am happy that Matic is recognised for his quality. He deserves it not just for how he plays but also because he is so professional," Benfica coach Jorge Jesus told a news conference.

"He is yet another product of Benfica."

Chelsea paid 25 million euros and sent Matic to Lisbon in the deal for Brazilian Luiz, after paying 22 million euros for another of those Benfica "products" in 2010: Brazil midfielder Ramires.

This season Matic has earned the nickname "the spider", because of his long and thin legs, coupled with his agility across the pitch.

He seemed pleased when asked what he thought about the moniker.

"Spider is funny," the usually serious Serb said with a grin.

(Reporting by Daniel Alvarenga; editing by Justin Palmer)

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Formula One

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Davis Cup Title

Davis Cup Title

Vintage Federer seals first Davis Cup for Switzerland.  Full Article 

Taking Charge

Taking Charge

Team mates will determine success of my captaincy - Kohli.  Full Article 

Title Hopes

Title Hopes

Palace fight back to win as Liverpool collapse again.  Full Article 

Money List

Money List

McIlroy eyes green jacket after stellar 2014.  Full Article 

DP World Tour

DP World Tour

Ice man Stenson overcomes nerves to retain Dubai title.  Full Article 

Racism Row

Racism Row

Wigan chairman Whelan threatens to quit over racism row.  Full Article 

Serie A

Serie A

Unsung Di Natale scores 200th Serie A goal.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage