Saturday, March 20, 2010

The epic of Ajax’s advance to the final kept the other teams in the shadows. From the shadows Juventus (Turin) reached the final after eliminating Olimpique (Marseille) 0-1 and 3-0 in the 1/16 finals; 1. FC Magdeburg (East Germany) 1-0 and 1-0 in the 1/8 finals; Ujpest Dosza (Budapest) 0-0 and 2-2 (away goals favoured the Old Lady) in the ¼ finals; and Derby County (England) 3-1 and 0-0 in the ½ finals. Only the semi-final attracted some attention during the progress of the Italians, but even that was low key interest compared to the drama of Ajax – Real.
The final was played in Belgrade with Yugoslavian referee – unlike the scandalous Cup Winners Cup final, Mr. Gugulovic did not taint the final.

Final, Crvena Zvezda Stadium, Beograd, 30 May 1973, att 89000

Ajax (1) 1 Juventus (0) 0
4' 1-0 A: Rep

Ajax (trainer Kovacs)
Stuy; Suurbier, Hulshoff, Blankenburg, Krol; Neeskens, G.Mühren,
Haan; Rep, Cruijff, Keizer
Juventus (trainer Vycpalek)
Zoff; Salvadore, Marchetti, Morini, Longobucco; Causio (Cuccureddu),Furino, Capello; Altafini, Anastasi, Bettega (Haller)
Referee: Gugulovic (Yugoslavia)

It was tough final and not very attractive. Ajax scored early with a header by their newest star Johnny Rep. The rest of the match was largely outfoxing in which Ajax emerged winners. To a point, the Italians were outplayed at their own game: winning by a goal; not giving a chance to the opposition to score… but this time they were at the receiving end. Unable to score. Ajax proved to be more Italian than Italians, when needed. In fact, they proved everything – head and shoulders better than anybody else in total football; more Spanish than the Spaniards; more Italian than Italians. No matter the opponent, the Dutch were capable to adjust their game and win. Skill, fitness, intelligence – they had everything in abundance. The new dynasty – it was obvious they were going to dominate world football for many years to come, perhaps to better Real (Madrid) record of 6 European Champions Cups. Perhaps better team than legendary Real… Ajax were still very young, they had about 10 years ahead of them to play. They were very good at replacing aging players too – every new player was better than the one he replaced. The future was clearly white and red.
Some hippies? Casually not paying attention to national anthems.
Roberto Bettega attacking and Johhny Rep defending. Ajax pulled one more trick: for the final players used new numbers. Normally Blankenburg played with #12 and Rep with #16.
The golden header of Johnny Rep.
Krol and Gerry Muhren with their third Cup.
Cruyff, the champion. Never mind the Juventus’ jerseys – it is Ajax.
This is 1971, but still the same in 1973.

Ajax fans celebrating and not getting tired from it. In 1973 it was clear that Amsterdam will feast every next May.