Our romp through the 2003/04 season continues. After checking in on Ronaldinho at Barca we’re crossing the Clasico divide. A certain David Beckham had joined the Galacticos party in the summer of 2003. Los Blancos had already picked up their first silverware of the season (the Spanish Super Cup) and were hosting Valladolid on the third matchday of the season.
Having finished runners-up more times than anybody in Leverkusen cared to remember, Bayer 04 had claimed the undesirable moniker of “Neverkusen”. Playing at times the best football in the country the side ultimately always fell short in collecting silverware. In 2001/02 they lost the Bundesliga title race on the last matchday. A week later they fell to Schalke in the Cup final. Another four days later another defeat in the Champions League final would forever cement their place in footballing lore as nearly men.
Their opponents at Hampden Park faced their own bit of pressure. Having delivered two CL trophies to Madrid within three years club president Lorenzo Sanz was nonetheless voted out of power. New guy Florentino Perez wasted no time by ushering in the Galácticos era at Real, bringing in Luis Figo from Barcelona and, in 2001, Zinedine Zidane from Juventus. For all the money spent they travelled to Glasgow empty handed having finished third in La Liga and losing to Deportivo La Coruna in the Copa final.
At the dawn of the new millennium Fernando Carlos Redondo Neri was at the zenith of his power. Just two years after winning their seventh European Cup, the Argentinian playmaker led Real Madrid once again into the final. For the first time ever two sides from the same country would square off as Valencia CF reached the final in their first ever Champions League season. Could the newcomers usher in a new era or would the old powers remind them of the natural hierarchy?
We’ve re-watched the Champions League final of 1999/2000 and now we’re to talk about it. After a brief trip down memory lane, we focus on the 101 of Valencia’s club history and cover what has been happening in the short time between finals at Madrid (Spoilers: a lot!). We quickly go over the worst format changes to the Champions League, aka the dreaded double group stage, and how the sides reached the final in Paris.
Here are the minutes if you want to jump around:
0:01:30 Recollections of Spanish football in late ’90s
0:08:00 Valencia club history 101: foundation, domestic success in the ’40s, European titles in the late ’70s
0:19:00 Bloated CL format in 1999/2000
0:22:00 Real Madrid’s managerial merry-go-round ’98-’00
0:28:00 The path to the final
0:33:00 Valencia’s home form
0:37:30 Semi-final return leg Real Madrid @ Bayern Munich
0:43:00 ELO & expectations
0:51:00 Opening exchanges, general set-up & approach
1:03:30 A first surge by Madrid draws first blood
1:08:30 Valencia’s lacking response after half-time
1:16:00 McManaman & Raul seal Madrid’s victory
1:24:00 Where did it go wrong for Valencia?
1:28:30 Awards: MOTM, Best hair, viewing recommendation
1:33:00 Off-the-cuff Mount Everest of CL era managers
Man Of The Match: Fernando Redondo, ran the show, untouchable at times