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.
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 →
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
We thought it fit to give 2016 the old review treatment; so we opened a couple of cold ones and reminisced about the game of football over the last 12 months. Our review covers both the most important events on the pitches all around the world as well as the essential off-field stories of 2016. To cap off we gave out the first ever set of Yesteryear-end awards.
Here are the minutes if you want to jump around:
0:01:30 Jan/Feb: Zidane becomes manager at Real Madrid; Man City sign Pep Guardiola
0:06:45 March/April: Johan Cruyff & Cesare Maldini pass away; their influence on the game today
0:11:00 May/June: Leicester, Real Madrid & Chile pick up trophies, Argentina & England don’t
0:17:00 July: Cristiano with a final performance for the ages
0:20:00 August: Brazil’s Men & Germany’s Women pick up Gold at Olympics
0:21:30 September: Big Sam gets the sack
0:25:00 October/November: Carlos Alberto Torres dies, LaMia Flight 2933 crashes
0:31:30 December: Cristiano receives his fourth Ballon D’Or
0:33:30 YYFP Awards; Best Hair of 2016
0:38:15 Most Ridiculous Governing Body Decision of 2016
After covering the history of Real Madrid in-depth in Part 1 as well as looking at the 97/98 season and the lead-up to the final, it’s time to actually talk about the match: Juventusareback for a third CL final in a row, having won their first and lost their second. Real Madrid have been waiting 32 years for La Séptima.
Here’s the audio (the arrow in the top right corner gets you an mp3 to download):
Here are the minutes, if you want to jump around:
0:01:30 What are Elo ratings? And how do they apply in (historical) football?
0:06:30 The eve of the match
0:11:00 Refs, kits, line-ups
0:18:00 Kickoff, frantic start, general approach
0:25:30 Zidane’s influence, penalty to Madrid?
0:30:00 Madrid closer to the opening goal (Raul, Morientes)
0:36:00 Davids vs Seedorf Pt 1, Madrid in command after the break
0:42:15 Juve’s tactical changes & resurgence (Inzaghi twice), but Madrid
0:46:00 Juve dial up the pace, finally throw in Conte
0:51:30 Again no plan B for Juve?
0:55:00 Handbags all around, Davids vs Seedorf Pt 2
1:00:00 Awards & recommendation
1:04:45 Aftermath, Heynckes out, Italian media reaction
1:07:30 Court case against Juve’s medical team & doping in football
1:22:00 Signing off
Awards! Our Man Of The Match went to Fernando Hierro, Best Hair to Antonio Conte. Clarence Seedorf and Edgar Davids earned commemorative plaques for their Outstanding Contribution in Man-to-Man Combat on the field. Case in point:
In the aftermath we covered the Juve doping scandal in detail. (YouTube to follow!) Years after their mid-90s dominance Roma’s former coach Zdeněk Zeman made thinly-veiled accusations that Juve’s success might have been aided by pharmaceuticals of the banned variety. This prompted an investigation, a court case, fines and jail sentences. To find out more, jump to around the 1h07m mark in the episode.
Turns out, when you talk about the biggest club in the world of football, you could spend hours on their history. We tried to keep it to a manageable duration but decided to split the episode into two parts again. So with this part you’ll get the Champions League season 1997/98 (format, qualifying, groups, knock-out stage etc), Juve’s and Real’s domestic season and the lead up to the final. And the largest part of the episode is devoted to the Merengues.
In talking about the history of Real Madrid we track the club’s achievements and evolution through the decades by following a lineage of legends: Santiago Bernabéu Yeste, Francisco Gento, Santillana. We touch on the biggest stories and the important players and teams. It’s an “Incomplete History” as we look through the lense of 1998.
Here’s the show on Soundcloud, the little arrow in the top right let’s you download:
And here are the minutes:
0:00:00 Intro & plugs
0:02:20 Culture re-cap, Affleck vs Damon vs DiCaprio
0:11:50 Champions League format 1997/98, Qualifying rounds
0:18:50 Juve’s season (champions of Italy, out in QF of Coppa)
0:24:20 Juve vs Kiev in the CL Quarters & vs Monaco in the Semis
0:29:40 Real the biggest club in the world?
0:32:30 Foundations of the Madrid Foot Ball Club, Santiago Bernabéu Yeste joins
0:39:10 Construction of the Nuevo Estadio Chamartín
0:45:30 The transfer of Alfredo Di Stefano to Real Madrid
0:56:00 Real’s romp through Europe during the late 50s, Francisco Gento and the Ye-Ye
1:02:00 Santillana, Quintra Del Buitre, drought in the early 90s
1:07:45 Spanish league structure 95/96, Fabio Capello’s season at Real
1:11:15 Jupp Heynckes’ coaching career & arrival in Madrid
1:15:30 Real vs Leverkusen in the CL Quarters & vs Dortmund in the Semis
Let us know what you think about the episode, down below in the comments, over on Facebook or via Twitter.