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.
For most of the ’90s Milan and Juventus had a stranglehold on the Serie A. But, as the new millenium dawned, Rome ruled the roost. Lazio won the 99/00 Scudetto, while Roma claimed top honours in 00/01.
Lazio were able to spend silly money under the ownership of Sergio Cragnotti, bringing in a slew of stars every summer. It was fun while it lasted. And, in March 2001, Lazio were still very much in the mix. As they hosted Juventus both needed to win in order to catch up with Roma who led the pack. We watched the match.
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.
After this delightful foray into present-day football, we once again looked back at past matches. This proved to be a true trip down memory lane. Dortmund and the Bundesliga were naturally closer to us while growing up, while ~’96 is just about the time when we started following football in earnest. Or rather: we understood what we were looking at.
We decided to condense the content a bit more, so as not to split up the episode into multiple parts again. Let us know, if you have a preference either way. [Insert subtle plug for our Facebook fanpage and Twitter account here…]
The topic of discussion is the fifth ever Champions League final, contested between holders Juventus and German champions Dortmund. A good chunk of the first half of the episode is reserved for the BVB club history: from humble beginnings on the Weiße Wiese (white meadow) up until the mid 90s dominance.
0:10:30 CL qualifiers, Juve’s domestic and international season 96/97, CL QF vs Rosenborg, SF vs Ajax
0:21:00 Foundation of Borussia, ever-changing German league structure and Dortmund’s (lack of) success pre-WWII
0:32:00 Dortmund in the Oberliga Westfalen, their three championships in the 50s & 60s and Cup Winner’s Cup title in ’66
0:39:00 Relegation & financial worries in the 70s & 80s, resurgence under Meier, Hitzfeld
0:51:00 Building a team for the mid 90s, Dortmund domestic season 96/97
1:00:00 Dortmund in the CL 96/97, QF vs Auxerre, SF vs ManUnited (in depth)
1:14:00 Lead-up to the final, line-ups, general set-up
1:34:20 Kick-off, Juve’s attacking rhythm
1:48:00 Riedle’s 1-2-punch
2:00:30 Ricken upstages Del Piero
2:09:15 Awards & Aftermath
Our Man of the Match went to Karl-Heinz Riedle. A first, as we normally shy away from just giving it to the goalscorer, but Riedle turned the game around virtue of his finishing ability, at a moment in the match when it looked almost certain Juve would score and, you know what, just listen to the episode.