The New Wembley Stadium has yet to craft its own legend. For all the improvements in convenience and safety modernity has brought about, one aspect feels lacking: the roar of the crowd. Whatever the cause, the dropping prestige of the FA Cup itself, a generous helping of corporate tickets in the allocation for the final or tepid atmospheres up and down the country in general, the sound emitting from either end of the Old Wembley used to be spine tingling in comparison.
As the teams emerge from the tunnel to kick off the 1979 final, the volume level is already deafening. Referees, players, and coaching staff are visibly giddy with excitement as the noise engulfs them. Before the match, though, protocol awaits. Charles, Prince of Wales, with a host of dignitaries in tow, has to be introduced to the players. As the entourage pass by the two sides, lined up to face each other, the players exchange quips like school boys behind their teacher’s back.
Any joviality is gone with the opening whistle. From the first Arsenal attack, Frank Stapleton and Jimmy Greenhoff collide. Both go down, receive treatment, and carry on shortly after. It’s nothing malicious from either player, but goes to show neither side will hold back. Continue reading →
April 1979: As Internazionale and Juventus meet at San Siro, the sides are level on points. The hosts eke out the visitors on goal difference. Both, though, are unhappy with their position, sitting a respective fourth and fifth in the Serie A. With six matchdays remaining Milan are four points ahead. Only the winners could reasonably hope to catch them.
Nearly half of the Italian World Cup winning squad of 1982 is on display. Six future champions lace their boots for Juve in this match, four feature for Inter. The two coaches who would help shape this emerging generation of Italian talent were recent managerial additions for their clubs. Eugenio Bersellini had only just taken over as the Nerazzurri head coach in the summer of ‘77. In his first season in charge, Inter finished fifth but claimed their first Coppa since 1939.
Giovanni Trapattoni had a year’s head start on Bersellini. In 77/78, his second of ten seasons in Torino had netted the second consecutive Scudetto. Of 30 matches the Bianconeri only lost one. Defence was their claim to fame. A stretch from late November ‘77 to mid March ‘78 saw Juve concede just two goals in 16 league matches, one coming via penalty. Goals were hard to come by at both ends of the pitch. Roberto Bettega was the team’s top goal scorer with just 11 goals to his name. For contrast: young Paolo Rossi had netted 24 times for Vicenza. Continue reading →
For most of the ’90s Milan and Juventus had a stranglehold on the Serie A. But, as the new millenium dawned, Rome ruled the roost. Lazio won the 99/00 Scudetto, while Roma claimed top honours in 00/01.
Lazio were able to spend silly money under the ownership of Sergio Cragnotti, bringing in a slew of stars every summer. It was fun while it lasted. And, in March 2001, Lazio were still very much in the mix. As they hosted Juventus both needed to win in order to catch up with Roma who led the pack. We watched the match.
Eight years after Brazil beat Italy to claim top honours at the World Cup 1970, the two sides met again in the “small final” of 1978. From a team etched into history only one player, Rivellino, was left. Italy too, had seen a generational shift with a golden future looming on the horizon. It is a testament to both footballing nations that even while re-building, they could still be considering two of the top four sides in the world.
Overseeing their respective country’s efforts in Argentina were Enzo Bearzot and Claudio Coutinho. During their playing days the coaches had earned one cap between them. Bearzot had featured for the Azzurri in a 1955 defeat to Hungary. After hanging up his boots, Bearzot learnt the managerial craft under Nereo Rocco at Torino, would take charge of Italy’s Under 23 side and assist Ferruccio Valcareggi’s coaching staff at the World Cup 1974. Soon after Italy’s dismal showing in West Germany Bearzot got the nod to select and prepare the Squadra for Argentina.
Brazil under Cláudio Coutinho
While Bearzot, for nearly two decades, had donned the jerseys of such notable clubs as Inter, Torino, and Catania, Cláudio Coutinho’s resume read much different. For one, he lacked the playing background. Coutinho was more theoretician than practitioner, having graduated from the Brazilian Army’s School of Physical Education. In the lead up to the World Cup 1970 he was tasked to oversee the conditioning and fitness training of the Brazilian team. Several appointments in Peru and France followed, until, in 1976, Flamengo offered him the first opportunity to cut his teeth as a head coach.
When Admiral Heleno Nunes, in his position as President of the Brazilian Football Confederation, was in need of a replacement for Osvaldo Brandão, Coutinho provided the perfect blend of military background and coaching knowledge. Continue reading →
As of February 2017 Scotland sit fifth in their World Cup Qualifying Group, six points off the pace set by leaders England. In four matches they have picked up four points, beating only mighty Malta. It is highly probable Scotland will fail to qualify for Russia 2018, and doing so would mean missing a fifth consecutive World Cup.
From 1974 to 1990 Scotland actually did travel to five consecutive World Cups. And in 1978 they went to Argentina as a dark horse favorite. In ‘76 and ‘77 they had won back-to-back Home Championships, going unbeaten in both editions. A summer tour through South America in the year preceding the World Cup had netted a win in Chile (4:2), a draw with Argentina (1:1) and a loss to Brazil (0:2). Most important of all Scotland won three of their four qualifying matches, doing the double over Wales and splitting the series with Czechoslovakia, who had just been crowned European champions.
No wonder spirits were high. Sending the hype machine into overdrive was manager Ally MacLeod. The former Rovers winger wasted no opportunity to talk up his side’s chances, tipping Scotland to bring home “at least a medal”. An abundance of pop songs were penned and intoned, including one by Rod Stewart. Hampden Park hosted a grand send-off. Thousands of fans made the journey to Argentina. Their first destination was to be Cordoba, their first opponents Peru.
Blowing hot and cold, the 1970s were likely Peru’s best ever decade. At the 1970 World Cup, only their second showing ever, they reached the Quarter-finals. Eventual champions Brazil proved too stiff a competition, beating La Blanquirroja 4:2. Five years on the fates were reversed as Peru beat Brazil in the Semi-final en route to claiming their second Copa America title. Héctor Chumpitaz and Teófilo Cubillas had featured in both tournaments and were still staples in the side come 1978. The pair would combine for 186 career caps, and both would find their name on the teamsheet against Scotland. Continue reading →
Under the most dramatic of circumstances Bayern had lost the ’99 CL final. In the Y2K edition Valencia were downright demolished. Yet both made it to Milan in May 2001 to vie for the European football crown once more. The match up would grant redemption to one side, whilst condemning the other to more heartbreak.
In episode nine we cover the Champions League Final 2000/01 contested between German champions Bayern Munich and Spanish representatives Valencia CF. Before that, though, we delve into all of the drama surrounding Bayern between their final appearances. Rest assured, there was plenty to be had on and off the pitch. In the aftermath we focus on Valencia with Rafa Benitez at the helm.
Here are the minutes:
0:04:30 Bayern after CL 99, summer moves
0:08:00 Drama in Munich & New York
0:14:30 Drama in Hamburg & Magdeburg
0:31:00 Valencia’s domestic season
0:35:00 CL: groups and quarters
0:45:00 Setting the stage at the San Siro: line-ups, expectations in Germany
0:57:20 Kick-off, Valencia convert an early pen, Bayern miss their’s
1:05:00 What are the side’s match plans?
1:12:00 Bayern dominate but hardly create
1:19:45 Jancker sub nets a third penalty
1:26:30 Valencia gassed? Few chances on either side
1:35:15 Into extra time with golden goal rules
1:48:15 Awards & viewing recommendation
1:52:00 Valencia under Benitez, subsequent decline
Approximate formations and player movements for Bayern vs Valencia, May 23rd 2001