Wednesday, June 3, 2009

If the Albanians look clumsy, they were not alone:
Wacker (Innsbruck) clearly was no match of Benfica (Lisbon). Fear and trembling, when Jaime Graca cannoned the ball in the direction of the Austrian net. Benfica was in decline, but still was much, much stronger team than any Austrian one. The next round opposed Benfica to CSKA (Sofia) and the Bulgarians were gone.

CSKA – Benfica was tough fixture. Benfica won with difficulty – and here CSKA attacks once again. Attacks, attacks, but goals count, not fancy dribbling. Then Benfica faced Ajax to their own peril – the eliminations proceeded logically: the better clubs eliminated the weak. May be too logically… looks like boring, predictable tournament. Except for the bomb in the 1/8-finals – Inter (Milan) met Borussia (Moenchengladbach) and lost the first leg 7-1. The attacking Germans trashed the old-fashioned slow and defensive Italians – good bye, 60-s! For ever! Well, not so fast… Italian football is more than football: during the game so obviously lost, Roberto Boninsegna dropped dead… allegedly, hit by a beer can thrown by the German fans. He never recovered – as long as this match lasted. Inter protested to UEFA, Borussia was punished – the result was annulled, and the match had to be replayed, but not on home ground. Meantime the original second leg was played in Milan, and Inter, with miraculously recovered Boninsegna, won 4-2. Now Inter had the edge, and splendidly killed the game in West Berlin to the beloved Italian result: 0-0. Classic Italian performance: if the opposition is too much, then simulations, appeals, butchered football, wining, kicking, and spitting, win games. It was scandalous, but at the end who cares? Certainly not the Italians – they reached the final, proving once again that football is not restricted to the pitch. Nothing is lost until UEFA rules on contestations and protests. Bribes are handy too… whatever takes to advance. Outscoring and outplaying the other team is of tiny importance, if important at all. Thus, preliminary stages went in the fall, sifting and reducing the teams for serious spring action. Club tournaments, but also the national teams were reaching the last stages of the European Championship. By right, the top tournament of the year 1972, so no more clubs for awhile. At least we are in 1972 now, not in the limbo 1971-72… may be.