Monday, December 22, 2008

1971 brought new Copa Libertadores winner – in dramatic three games Nacional (Montevideo) edged Estudiantes. Both teams played the final in 1969 – then Estudiantes won both legs, but it was different two years later. The Argentines won 1-0 in La Plata, but lost with the same result in Montevideo. The third match was scheduled in Lima, Peru. The Uruguayans won 2-0. Nacional won its first Libertadores and Estudiantes ‘era’ ended.
Nacional for the first match with Estudiantes:
Second row, left to right: Juan Martin Mugica, Manga (Brazil), Juan Masnik, Juan Carlos Blanco, Atilio Ancheta, Julio Montero-Castillo.
First row: Ignacio Prieto (Chile), Ildo Enrique Maneiro, Victor Esparrago, Luis Artime (Argentina), Julio Cesar Morales.
Nacional played without their typical blue shorts this game. Their great star and perhaps the best Uruguyan player of that time – Luis Cubilla – missing.
As names, at least Nacional featured more famous players than Estudiantes ever did – Cubilla, Mugica, Masnik, Ancheta, Montero-Castillo, Esparaggo, Morales played regularly for the national team. Luis Artime, although aging, was famous Argentine star. Prieto played for Chile in the 1966 World Cup. Manga played for Brazil in the 1966 World Cup. A classic team – few domestic stars, three foreign stars, and the rest – solid workhorses. Just the opposite of Estudiantes – ten disciplined murderers, collective tactic, and one superstar in front. Killing the opposition and feeding the Witch. Collective, disciplined, tactically minded team – Bilardo was may be right: Estudiantes was ahead of its time, fit for the 1980s. If it was the future, it was rejected – it was ugly. But Nacional was outdated… just by playing differently, Estudiantes showed the days of slow technical game were over. Change in Latin America? Not quite: unlike Europe, there were no newcomers like the Dutch teams. Nacional was traditional powerhouse: one of the two giants and eternal rivals in Uruguay and among the top South American big clubs for years. Even by those measures Nacional was rather return of the establishment – Estudiantes, never as big as River Plate, Boca Juniors, and may be another two-three Argentine clubs, were more befitting for ‘avant-garde’. However, it is impossible to speculate further: the contestants for the Intercontinental Cup in 1971 were the losers of the finals in 1969. It may have been interesting to see how they measured two years later and how new they were, but it was not to be. Ajax refused to play and Nacional won against the runners-up Panathinaikos (Athens). This final is interesting retrospectively only in terms of Greek football – more or less, the ascent of the Greeks started then. By itself, the contest attracted little international attention and was not a clash to brag about. Even against the Greeks Nacional did not score a lot – 1-1 and 2-1, not exactly a compliment for a team having Cubilla, Artime, and Morales. Cubilla scored 129 goals for River Plate (Buenos Aires) between 1964 and 1968 (not counting goals for other clubs). Morales scored a total of 191 for Nacional (not counting goals for Austria, Vienna).
Artime scored more than 1000 goals during his career. (here playing for River Plate). Stagnated football?