Talking Polish Football History From A to Zbigniew, w/ Christopher Lash (@rightbankwarsaw)

In recent years the Polish national side has been trending up. Robert Lewandowski has established himself as one of the premier forwards in the game. A number of talents are starting to make a name for themselves. At the World Cup 2018, with a bit of luck, Poland could progress into the knock-out stages.

There used to be a time when the Biało-Czerwoni belonged to the elite of world football. A unique generation of players saw them finish third at the World Cup 1974: Tomaszewski, Zmuda, Musial, Gadocha, Szarmach, Deyna, Lato, to name but a few.

For our latest episode we dive into those glory years of Polish football. With expert Christopher Lash we first take a look at the structure of Polish football during the ’50s & beyond, talk about how the heroes of the ’70s were groomed, and try to figure out where it all went wrong in the ’90s. You can find Christopher’s comparison piece we talk about during the show on his website.

In the second part we talk about the match of the episode as voted by you: Poland vs Holland in the qualification for the European Championship 1976.

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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

Interview: Talking decades’ worth of football history with Lukas Tank

In a YYFP-first we bring a new voice into the fold. Lukas Tank (@SergiXaviniesta) was kind enough to join Sebastian for an hour long interview. Lukas has worked his way through football history, publishing his thoughts on the legends of the game along with his “Teams of the Decade” on his blog footballarguments.wordpress.com.

The over-arching theme for the talk turned out to be how yesteryear affects the modern game and what we can gleam from diving into old matches to help us understand football today.
We ran the gamut of topics, such as Cruyff’s ever-lasting importance, Matthäus’ longevity & standing in Germany, or who could be considered the greatest Italian player of all time?

Minutes in case you want to jump around:

  • 0:00:00 Intro
  • 0:03:00 What does Lukas’ process look like?
  • 0:09:00 Does the big stage make the big player?
  • 0:13:45 Could Benteke hack it in the ’60s?
  • 0:17:15 Where does Lukas’ fascination with football history come from?
  • 0:28:30 Who is the greatest Italian player ever?
  • 0:33:00 Does Matthäus’ longevity aid or hinder his all-time status?
  • 0:42:30 What might be learned about modern football by watching historic matches?
  • 0:47:00 Looking for exellence in football/sports history
  • 0:51:00 How did Lukas build his “Team Of The Decade ’75-85”; what are his criteria for inclusion?
  • 0:57:00 Which “Team Of The Decade” is the easiest to break into?
  • 1:00:30 Are we living in a silver or even golden age of football right now?

S01E02: CL Final 1993/94, Milan vs Barcelona

Change of plans: Turns out these episode tend to be longer than expected. Way longer. Going from episode one to two we nearly doubled the runtime. Our second ever episode clocks in at a whooping 2 hours and 35 minutes. Since we’d like to release more than a handful of episodes a year, we’re putting the video part on hold.

While recording that will also allow us to go into some rabbitholes without worrying too much about how that syncs up to video. Or where to even get highlights to random Bundesliga games from the early 90s.

Instead you’ll get extended shownotes, links to more background and maybe video highlights on this website. We’ll also embed the full games as long as we find them. Lastly we’re now on iTunes, so hit subscribe over there.

Without any further ado…

Milan are back with a vengeance. Having lost to Marseille in ’93 after dominating the early phase of the game the Italian champions are now facing Barcelona. However the Rossoneri are more reliant on their defence than ever as Marco van Basten missed the complete season. Other injuries and suspensions (Lentini, Baresi, Costacurta) saw Milan go into the match as underdogs. Especially when looking at the opposition.

The Blaugrana had re-emerged from 80s obscurity thanks in no small part to Johan Cruyff. The Dutch legend revamped the tactical approach as well as the club academy. A slew of Spanish players coming through the youth ranks and foreign stars Koeman, Romario, Stoitchkov and Laudrup formed an impressive team. In 1993/94 they seemingly peaked just at the right moment. Going into the final they had not lost a match in three months.

Enjoy the show! You can also download the mp3 by clicking on the little arrow button in the top right corner.

The protocol to the episode:

  • 0:02:00 Pop culture in 1993/94, including Academy Awards, celebrity power couples and Wrestlemania 10
  • 0:08:00 Fallout of L’Affaire OM and rundown of first time participants
  • 0:19:00 Linfield go to Tiblisi and Bulgaria eliminates Germany from the WC94
  • 0:29:30 Van Basten was injured all along, Cruyff takes over at Barcelona in ’88
  • 0:45:00 The finalists join the action against Kiev, A. Vienna and Aarau, Copenhagen respectively
  • 1:00:00 Group stages rundown, who remembers Wynton Rufer?
  • 1:15:00 Referee trivia, Semi finals and league run-ins
  • 1:25:00 Your advertisement here?
  • 1:28:30 Line-ups, match expectations, kick-off
  • 1:42:00 Barca distribution from the back, Desailly, more Desailly, 1:0
  • 1:57:30 Tactical observations
  • 2:05:30 Milan break Barca physically (2:0) and psychologically (3:0)
  • 2:16:30 Desailly secures MOTM award, 4:0
  • 2:26:00 Final thoughts

Awards! Desailly won Man Of The Match by a landslide. Bakero got Best Hair through a lack of options. The match itself garnered a very favourable rating and a clear viewing recommendation.

If you watch anything from this match, make it the 3:0 of Savicevic. If you want to watch the whole match: