A losing UEFA Europa League finalist in 2011 and 2013, SL Benfica goalkeeper Artur can only hope his luck is turning as the newly-crowned Portuguese champions take on Juventus in this season's semi-finals.
Having been the understudy to 21-year-old Jan Oblak in the Liga since an injury sustained in a 3-2 win at SC Olhanense on 12 December gave the Slovenian his chance, Artur was still delighted to join in the title celebrations after Sunday's 2-0 win against Olhanense secured his first title with Benfica. "Regardless of who played more, Oblak and I are both to be congratulated," he said. "We split the games between us. Since I came here, I have dreamed of being a champion with this club and now it has come true."
Artur can only hope that that first piece of silverware augurs well; the club endured a calamitous end to 2012/13, losing their grip on the Liga title, and coming off second best in the Portuguese Cup and UEFA Europa League finals in the space of a few days. "Only we know how hard we have fought since the beginning of the season, after the tough end to last year," the Brazilian explained.
While Oblak has been the first choice in the Liga, Artur remains Jorge Jesus's main man in European games. Yet to concede in four UEFA Europa League matches this term, the 33-year-old Brazilian's Serie A experience could be crucial against Juventus. Artur played in Italy from 2007 to 2010, and while his stint at AS Roma included only 12 top-flight appearances – and none against Juventus – the tall custodian has a good idea of what to expect from the Italian champions, and not least their forward Mirko Vučinić, his former Roma team-mate.
Artur left Italy for Portugal in 2010 to join SC Braga, whose then coach Domingos Paciência was impressed by his "stability, coolness, the impossible saves he makes and the way he positions himself". His only season with the Arsenalistas took in the club's UEFA Champions League group stage debut and culminated in a trip to the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League final, where they lost 1-0 to Liga rivals FC Porto in Dublin.
Benfica, though, liked what they saw of Artur, agreeing a four-year contract with the goalkeeper. He has now made over 100 appearances for the club in all competitions, and has a target of doubling that total. "I'm a Benfica player body and soul," the one-time EC Cruzeiro and Coritiba FBC player said. "I want to play 100 more games in this shirt that I have come to love. I was not born a 'Benfiquista' (Benfica fan), but I'm a 'Benfiquista' for life."
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