S01E04.2: CL Final 1995/96, Ajax vs Juventus & Bosman ruling

Battered, bruised, completely knackered, shinguards sticking out of his socks, Moreno Torricelli cut the perfect figure to sum up the Champions League Final 1995/96. His side had held out against Ajax’ free-flowing style for two hours. By hook or crook they dragged the reigning champions into extra time, penalties even. It may have not been pretty to look at, but it was effective.

We did look at it though, talked about it as well.

But first, here’s Marcello Lippi all suave, smoking a cigar on the sideline at the match:

 

We already covered the lead-up to the match extensively in Part 1 of the episode, reviewing the Champions League season 1995/96, as well as re-capping Juve’s greatest sides and players. Listen to Part 1 here.

If you want to catch up with Juve’s history quickly, take a look at our “YYFP Shorts: An Incomplete History of Juventus” on our YouTube channel:

Coming into the final Ajax had retained the Dutch championship, whereas Juve only finished fourth in Serie A. Ajax beat Dortmund and Panathinaikos in the QF and SF respectively, Juve went through Real and Nantes.

Here’s the episode. As always, you can download from Soundcloud, and listen via iTunes, Stitcher, PlayerFM

Minutes:

  • 0:00:00 Intro, plugs for all the channels, Facebook and Twitter
  • 0:03:00 Quick re-cap and preamble for the final (refs, venue, kits and ceremony)
  • 0:08:00 Line-ups (Kluivert on bench, Overmars injured)
  • 0:17:20 Kick-off, Juve intensity and general set-up
  • 0:28:00 Ajax tactical approach, 1:0 to Juve, Ajax’ response, Del Piero’s role
  • 0:40:00 Goalkeeping by van der Sar and Peruzzi, Ajax equalize, Conte injured, Musampa off
  • 0:46:15 Ajax’ adjustments at Half-time, penalty to Juve? changes by both sides
  • 1:01:00 Extra time, defensive adjustments by Juve; Ajax dominate first half of ET, Juve the second
  • 1:06:00 Penalty shoot-out!
  • 1:10:00 Awards!
  • 1:17:45 Aftermath, Bosman ruling
  • 1:33:00 Ajax players infighting, moving on
  • 1:40:30 Holland at the Euros 1996, bust-up
  • 1:50:00 Signing off

This will have been the last time Ajax appear in our first series, so we took an extensive look at the Dutch giants in our aftermath. First we rolled up the Bosman ruling, which allowed EU players to transfer on a free once their contracts were up. The ruling passed in December 1995. Ajax were the first side really hit by it in the coming summer. Within a few years almost the entire squad of 1994-96 had moved on. Van der Sar and Litmanen held out the longest, until 1999.

The break-up had been some time coming though, as Ajax were strapped for cash when compared to the European heavyweights. This subsequently pitched the old guard and the youngsters on opposing sides. It didn’t help that the media spun this power struggle into a racial narrative.

Elftal at the Euro96, catch the story behind the picture in our show!

Elftal at the Euro96, catch the story behind the picture in our show!

Hope you enjoy Part 2 of the fourth episode. If you do, give us a like on Facebook, or leave us a review on iTunes.

Here is the full match, should you want to watch it. First half:

Second half:

Extra time & Penalties (Spoiler! yeez..):

S01E04.1: An Incomplete History of Juve, CL Season 95/96 in Review

Imagine for a second Roberto Baggio converting his penalty. That penalty. You know which one, because him skying it, somehow seems to define his whole footballing career. As if the nearly two decades Baggio played don’t matter.

An incredibly talented trequartista, Baggio’s career was almost over before it got started. Just after his move to Fiorentina in 1985 was confirmed, he ruptured his ACL. Baggio only made five league appearances in his first two seasons with the Viola.

Further reading: In Celebration of Roberto Baggio: The Divine Ponytail (These Football Times)

By the time the World Cup 94 rolled around, the 27-year-old had become world class. Baggio was voted WPOTY in 1993. He single-handedly dragged a mediocre Italy side into the final of Pasadena, scoring five goals in the process. In the shoot-out against Brazil Franco Baresi and Daniele Massaro also missed their penalties. And Baggio skyed his.

Why bring this up here, now?

For one, it shows how narrowly we think about past players. If Baggio makes the attempt and Italy win the World Cup, Il Divin Codino enters history as the greatest Italian player of all time. He’s still in the conversation, as he well should be, but at what point is he brought up? And does he get past the caveat that moment carries?

Further reading: Roberto Baggio: A Love Letter to Italy’s Forgotten Genius (Sabotage Times)

Two, and more imporant – at least on here – if Baggio makes that penalty, there is no chance in the world Juventus sell him a year later. And who knows what happens then in 95/96.

Further reading: Baggio vs. Lippi: The Anatomy of a Feud (These Football Times)

As it went down Baggio fell into a hole in 94/95, battling his own demons, the media and injuries.

Enter Pinturicchio: With Baggio sidelined, a 19-year-old Alessandro Del Piero bursts onto the scene and seizes the opportunity. By scoring goals like these.

Juve win the Scudetto in 94/95 for the first time in almost ten years. Throw in a Coppa to boot and we have our challenger for an Ajax side still firing on all cylinders.

Mercifully we split up Episode 4 into two. Part one clocks in at just under 2 hours and we only got up until the final. A big chunk is devoted to covering the history of Juventus, a trip through the decades highlighting their greatest sides and players, and of course the bust-up of Lippi and Baggio.

You can find the episode on Soundcloud (incl. MP3 to download), Stitcher, iTunes, or just use the nifty player here, minutes below:

  • 0:00:00 Intro
  • 0:04:15 Culture re-cap: Academy Awards 1996, Wrestlemania XII
  • 0:14:00 Kanu and Nigeria at the Olympics ’96, Diego Simeone and Argentina at the Copa ’95
  • 0:18:40 CL qualification round feat. Anorthosis vs Rangers, Rosenborg vs Besiktas, Anderlecht vs Ferencvaros
  • 0:23:30 Dinamo Kiev banned for attempted bribery, Groups A and B
  • 0:30:45 An overlook of Juve’s history, their greatest sides and triumphs
  • 0:48:30 Juve in 1994: Marcelo Lippi comes in, Roberto Baggio is led go
  • 1:00:00 Difference in coaching approaches between Lippi and van Gaal
  • 1:06:00 Juve’s domestic season (95/96), quality of Serie A, Milan, Sampdoria
  • 1:16:30 Ajax’ moves in the summer, early trophies
  • 1:25:00 Quarter finals feat. Real vs Juve, Nantes vs Spartak Moscow, Ajax vs Dortmund, Legia vs Panathinaikos
  • 1:35:15 Nantes founding history and ’60s success; semi finals feat. Nantes vs Juve, Ajax vs Panathinaikos
  • 1:50:00 More theories about the impossibility of defending the CL title

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S01E03: CL Final 1994/95, Ajax vs Milan

Three episodes in and we seem to have found the sweet spot: two and a half hours to cover a single game. Well and the season leading up to it.

Because this Ajax team was bonkers. Over the course of the 94/95 season they went unbeaten in their domestic league, only lost in extra time to Feyenoord in the Cup quarterfinals and stormrolled through Europe. For comparision: Ajax scored 106 goals in 34 league matches, Milan 53, exactly half. Our math is on point for this episode btw.

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In the lead-up to talking about the final we focus on Ajax. For more background on Milan feel free to go back to 92/93 and 93/94.

Here is a small taste of what this Ajax team was capable of:

Louis van Gaal was at the helm of the Dutch champions, his first engagement as a head coach. He had spent a few years as assistent manager to Leo Beenhakker.

Further reading: These Football Times covering van Gaal’s management philosophy while at Ajax.

What made Ajax so dangerous and succesful was a group of highly talented youngsters coming through the ranks at the same time rolled into an offensive-minded, high risk, high-tempo tactical system.

Further reading: Talking About Football breaking down Ajax’ tactical approach in the group games against Milan.

So we have the young up-and-commers going against the much older, more experienced veteran champions. Here’s the episode (as always you can download the mp3 from Soundcloud; or subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher):

Protocol with minutes to jump around:

  • 0:00:00 Intro (plugs for Facebook, Twitter)
  • 0:02:30 Culture re-cap for 1994/95 including a murderer’s row of films and an abysmal Wrestlemania main event
  • 0:13:30 Is there a curse of Tapie? / Another format re-design
  • 0:20:00 Qualification round feat. Galatasaray, Split, Rangers / run-down of groups
  • 0:29:00 Ajax background feat. Rinus Michels, Total football, Johan Cruyff
  • 0:38:50 Louis van Gaal, 52 games unbeaten / Ajax vs Milan in the 60s and 70s
  • 0:48:45 Quarterfinals: Ajax vs Split, Bayern vs Göteborg, Milan vs Benfica, Barca vs PSG
  • 1:05:00 Paris’ form going into Semi against Milan / Kouffour to blame for Bayern losing to Ajax?
  • 1:21:30 The final: venue, line-ups, referee fun facts / Age comparision: Ajax 24,72 vs Milan 28,27
  • 1:29:45 Ajax with the kick-off / Opening exchanges
  • 1:34:30 Ajax tactics, general set-up and formation / Milan getting frustrated quickly
  • 1:41:15 Ajax wing-play, vertical passing, movement (Is this a LvG team???)
  • 1:51:10 More urgency from Milan, chances / Desailly vs Litmanen, LvG vs the air
  • 2:00:30 Brilliant defence from Maldini / Milan sitting back / LvG brings Kanu and Kluivert, tactical changes and mindgames
  • 2:14:40 Kluivert achieves immortality at just 18 years of age
  • 2:22:15 Awards!

Finidi George was our pick for MOTM as most of Ajax offense went through his flank even though he was going up against Maldini.

Best hair went to Edwin van der Sar for his beautiful bowl cut. Bonus points for his awful jersey.

Lastly the match itself garnered a favorable rating and a recommendation to go back and re-watch it with an eye on Ajax’ tactics.

This is the complete match on Dailymotion: