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

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?

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:

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:




S01E01: CL Final 1992/93, Marseille vs Milan

Sure, you could spend 90+ minutes watching the first ever Champions League final – contested between France’s Marseille and Italy’s Milan – or you could spend 90+ minutes listen to us talk about said match!

With it you will also get: video highlights (of course), background on the competition re-structuring, the composition of the finalist’s teams and their path to the final in Munich. So far the video is only available on Dailymotion, split into two parts:

And Part two:

There is also an audio-only version available on Soundcloud. This features an option to download the MP3 aswell. (The little button in the top right next to “share”.)

Hope you enjoy the show, feel free to comment, bookmark, share etc.