FC Barcelona vs Fortuna Düsseldorf, ECWC 1978/79 Final

What follows is a reimagining of a minute by minute for the European Cup Winners’ Cup final 1979 between FC Barcelona and Fortuna Düsseldorf. Needless to say this is one giant spoiler. However, the match is highly recommended viewing – you can find it over on footballia. If you don’t know what happened watch the match before, or even while, reading the MBM. Consider yourself warned.

May 16th 1979, 18:00 UTC+1h: We welcome you to Basel, Switzerland, host city of the European Cup Winners’ Cup final 1978/79. FC Barcelona are taking on Fortuna Düsseldorf. Stay with us for the build-up and team news.

18:10 UTC+1h: With little more than an hour until kick-off St. Jakob Park is already filling up. 30,000 fans are expected to have made the trip from Barcelona, dwarfing Düsseldorf’s contingent of 10,000 fans. Hopefully not an indicator of what’s to come.

Fortuna Düsseldorf lacking intl experience?

18:25 UTC+1h: Even though Barça are considered heavy favourites, the actual match might not be as lopsided as many expect. Düsseldorf feature a host of seasoned veterans, with some fine youth prospects sprinkled in: most notable among the youngsters are Rudi Bommer, as well as Klaus and Thomas Allofs – the elder of which, Klaus, has already been capped by West Germany. A trio expecting to earn many a winner’s medal in the coming decade.

The attacking exploits of the Allofs brothers are made possible by a sturdy defence. Captain Gerd Zewe and fellow centre back Gerd Zimmermann have been manning the heart of Düsseldorf’s back-line together for a number of years. In 1977/78 Fortuna boasted the best defensive record in the Bundesliga, allowing their opponents just 36 goals in 34 matches. This season, however, the number of goals against has ballooned up to 59 goals (in 34). Zewe and Zimmermann missed a combined 8 Bundesliga matches over the course of the season. Likely a by-effect of Düsseldorf having to compete on three fronts.

Getting to Basel took a mighty effort indeed. Düsseldorf survived all four rounds by the skin of their teeth, winning by one goal on aggregate or even just on away goals. They bested, in order: Universitatea Craiova, Aberdeen, Servette, and Baník Ostrava.

Against Barcelona, though, a lack of of experience might come into play. This is only Düsseldorf’s third ever season in Europe. And a dearth of silverware might make for shaky legs. Fortuna are not actually holders of the German Cup from the season before. They had lost to Köln in the final, 0:2. Their rivals from across the Rhine picked up the national double and, as German champions, entered the European Cup. Continue reading

Los Angeles Aztecs vs Seattle Sounders, NASL 1979

The king is dead, long live the king. After a retirement lasting merely a few months Johan Cruyff was lacing up his boots again. Only now, in 1979, he did not step out onto the hallowed pitch of Nou Camp. Death threats and constant police protection had marred his time in Barcelona leading up to the World Cup 1978. Trying to get away as far as possible Cruyff took his family to the United States.

His first destination was New York. As early as 1977 Cruyff had joined the fabled Cosmos of Pele, Carlos Alberto and Franz Beckenbauer for a number of test matches. A long-term deal never came to fruition, so Cruyff set out to conquer the West Coast instead. Arriving in Los Angeles he wanted to “try to build up soccer where it wasn’t popular”. Money likely played its part as well. Cruyff’s recent investments had not been as successful as his footballing exploits. The Aztecs were only too happy to oblige. Cruyff stood to earn a cool $1.4 million over the course of two seasons.

In LA he was reunited with Rinus Michels. Together the congenial player/manager duo had reigned supreme in Holland and Spain with Ajax and Barcelona respectively. On the world stage they had come agonizingly close, losing the World Cup final 1974 to West Germany 1:2.

Aztecs already playoff bound, Sounders reaching

As they line up for their penultimate match of the season their new empire looks paltry in comparison. The Rose Bowl would be jam packed with more than 90,000 spectators when football of the American variety is on display. For the Aztecs in 1979 on average only 14,334 fans show up. While that is a 65% increase on the year before, those in attendance on the day look forlorn in the expanse of the giant stadium.

The LA Aztecs, though, are one of the premier sides in the league. Sat in second place of the Western Division, they are already assured a spot in the playoffs. Visitors Seattle are in with a shout but need to win their two remaining matches to prolong their campaign. Struggling to survive the cut from 24 to 16 teams hardly suggests a team of championship pedigree. However, the Sounders do come into this having just put nine past the Edmonton Drillers in a shutout victory. Whether that says more about Seattle or Edmonton the following ninety minutes would tell. Continue reading

KSK Beveren vs FC Barcelona, ECWC 1978/79 Semi-final

Basel beckons. St. Jakob Stadium is set to host the final of the European Cup Winners’ Cup 1978/79. Fortuna Düsseldorf looks a likely finalist having beaten Banik Ostrava 3:1 in the first leg of their semi-final encounter. In the other match-up Barcelona secured the narrowest of leads against Beveren winning the meeting at Camp Nou 1:0.

On their way to Belgium Barcelona have picked up two black eyes. If Shakhtar Donetsk could hardly trouble Barça (3:0 & 1:1), Anderlecht and Ipswich had the Blaugrana on the ropes. Holders Anderlecht won the first leg of the Second Round encounter 3:0 but were beaten on penalties in Catalunya. Ipswich could only ensure a 2:1 advantage in their quarter-finals first leg and fell to that away goal when they lost 0:1 at Camp Nou.

Some uphill battle Beveren are facing then for their semi-final return leg. Then again Carles Rexach’s lone goal a fortnight before was the first goal Beveren had conceded in more than five hours of cup action. No small feat judging by the level of opposition the Belgian Cup winners had faced thus far. Ballymena United of Northern Ireland proved an easy enough appetizer in the first round (6:0 on aggregate). NK Rijeka of Yugoslavia (2:0 on agg.) as well as Internazionale (1:0 on agg.) proved trickier but were beaten nonetheless. Continue reading

Internazionale vs AC Milan, Serie A 1979/80

The Derby della Madonnina splits many a household in Milan. At casa Baresi in 1979 the bragging rights lay with Franco. The 19 year-old had yet to taste defeat against his older brother Giuseppe. Twice they had faced each other at the senior level. Both matches came during the Serie A season ‘78/79: Milan won the first 2:0, earned a point in the second (2:2), and went on to claim the Scudetto; sitting a cool eight points ahead of their city rivals in the final table.

Franco had just broken into the first team. Appearing in all 30 matches he began to make a name for himself. With one caveat. Franco was “The Other Baresi”. The Other Other Baresi played for the Nerazzurri. Giuseppe had sufficiently impressed the Inter coaches during a trial in 1974. Franco had not. Milan needed some convincing too, but Franco found a new home at Milanello.

And what a time to join the Rossoneri, at least when it comes to the derby. From November 1974 all the way through to October 1979 Milan did not lose any match against Inter. Thirteen times they met in league or cup during that run. A more one-sided derby form was only enjoyed by Inter who went sixteen meetings without defeat just prior to World War II.

Heading into matchday 7 of the Serie A season ‘79/80 Inter sit atop the table, one point ahead of Milan in second place. Both sides from the Lombard capital are still unbeaten. Continue reading

Nottingham Forest vs Malmö FF, European Cup Final 1979

In the 1970s Nixon went to China, Han shot first, and Clough signed Francis. Securing the services of the 24 year-old forward cost him a king’s ransom: the total ran £1.18 million. It may well have taken a character like Brian Clough to break the seven digit barrier. No player in English football history had ever been transferred for much more than £500,000, let alone more than a million. In February 1979 plucky Nottingham Forest had gone and done just that.

Clough did not see what the fuss was about. To the press conference where Trevor Francis was to be unveiled to the gawping media Clough showed up in a red track suit, squash racket at the ready. The manager had appointments to keep. And anyway, he had run the numbers, Francis’ fee fell short of the magical million. Clough insisted he had haggled Birmingham City down to £999,999.

That Nottingham Forest were the club to splurge the cash around was in large part down to Clough’s exploits. A decade before Clough had gained promotion with Derby County from the Second Division. It took all of three seasons for the Rams to win the league title. After falling out with the Derby board Clough found himself at Brighton & Hove Albion in the Third Division. Lasting less than a year in East Sussex Clough moved on to Leeds. Within 44 days he had alienated every key player at his disposal and was shown the door.

Clough lifts Forest, Houghton Malmö

Taking the reins at City Ground in January 1975 Nottingham Forest sat 13th in the Second Division. Promotion was won in Clough’s second full season, the league title in his third. At best opinionated and outspoken, at worst abrasive and insulting, Clough was not afraid to step on anybody’s toes. Time permitting success backed him up. As it did in ‘78/79 when Nottingham Forest reached the European Cup final on their first try, leaving holders Liverpool, AEK Athens, Grasshoppers Zürich, and Köln in their wake. And they did it all without Francis. Having signed on only in February registration rules prevented Francis from participating in international matches. Until the final. Continue reading

Real Madrid vs Valencia CF, Copa del Rey Final 1979

Simplicity is king, especially in a football cup format. Domestic cup competitions owe their mythos to minnows slaying giants, maybe even going on a run through multiple stages. The best formats encourage such runs: no staggered entries, no seeding, no replays. On a given night any team should be able to advance against opposition from a higher flight if luck favours them. An elegant system.

The Copa del Rey in 1978/79 ticks some of those boxes. It seems teams of the same flight would join the competition at different stages. Byes were handed out in the middle of the competition. Return legs reduced the chances for upsets. By the time teams reached the final they could well have played a dozen matches.

Going by their stature and usual level of success, in 1978/79 it had been a while since Real Madrid and Valencia CF had made it that far in the Copa. Whereas Madrid had won back to back editions in ‘74 and ‘75, Valencia had finished runners-up thrice in a row from ‘70 to ‘72.

Not that the road to the final had been all that easy in ‘78/79. Already in the Round of 64 Real went toe to toe with their city rivals. Atlético would go on to finish third in the league that season, and held Real to two draws. The Merengues prevailed on penalties. Valencia’s toughest test came in the Round of 16 going against holders Barcelona. A timely exit looked all but assured after a 1:4 loss at Camp Nou, only for Valencia to win the second leg at home 4:0. Continue reading