Monday, March 15, 2010

Going ahead, Ajax met Bayern (Munich) in the ¼ finals. The irony of it… it should have been the final. Both clubs played total football. The most exciting footballers at the time played for either Ajax or Bayern. Cruyff vs Beckenbauer.

The first leg in Amsterdam remains one of the best games I ever saw. Fast, attacking football. Fun to watch. Exquisite. And also showing how great Ajax really were – Bayern were the closest thing, yet far behind. The Germans lost 0-4. Ajax rarely had opportunity to play against opposition dedicated to their own kind of football, which made them display their real qualities – and having such a chance, the Dutch were unbeatable. Perhaps their finest hour.
Breitner vs Cruyff. The Flying Dutchman easily wins.

Unstoppable Cruyff, unstoppable Ajax. The second leg was hardly important and was played differently. Tougher, less exciting match, in which Ajax preferred just to preserve their advantage. Of course, Germans never give up, but there was no way to eliminate Ajax. Bayern won 2-1 and Ajax qualified. Retrospectively, this duel proved very important: Bayern learned their lesson and never played real total football again. Instead, they changed it into something less exciting and free: they emphasized physical condition and discipline. No more fun and improvisations – just outrun the opposition, establish physical superiority, and win no matter how. Bayern killed total football and… dominated European football for many years. It was utilization of traditional German fitness combined with the vast talent of few key players. Even when winning cups, Bayern were largely tough journeymen helping few superstars. Fun they were not. Ironically, the best display of total football was the end of total football.