Saturday, December 6, 2008

One thing was already noticed at the time: Central Europe lost its football dominance. Hardly news by 1970 – the shift occurred earlier. Central European football dominated Europe before World War II. Austria declined rapidly; the European West became the new leader. It was slow change – Hungary dominated the 1950s and memories lingered, obscuring signs of decline. Slow decline, of course. Signs of ascent also were hardly noticeable – Holland was improving without nobody paying attention. Turkey and Greece also started their climb up. Such changes are traceable only from historic standpoint, from time distance. If anybody in 1970 suggested Holland, Turkey, Greece would be among the strongest European nations, he would have been called ignorant idiot. And the same would have been if anybody suggested that Hungary will be among the weakest football nations in the future. The 1970s were time of big changes, but not changes envisioned in 1970 – Ajax played at the European Champions final in 1969, and Feyenoord won the Cup in 1970, yet nobody thought it more than freak accident.
Total football did not register yet – the focus was on the attacking football played by Brazil, West Germany and England vs almost equally strong defensive Italian football. 1970 was still traditional, no change in the hierarchy. Rather, it was ‘pleasant’ that attacking teams were winning and teams like Peru (the surprise South American finalists, pushing out Argentina from 1970 finals) performed well.
The sensational win of Peru against Argentina – 1-0 in Lima.
And Ramirez (left) burst in happy tears – Peru goes to the finals.
Training for the World Cup. Nobody imagined Peru to impress at the finals – they were in round-robin group with West Germany, Bulgaria, and Morocco.