Saturday, September 18, 2010

CSKA went ahead to meet Bayern (Munich) at ¼ finals. The aura of the Bulgarian annihilators of Ajax perhaps blinded observers from seeing what Bayern were about at that time: it was not the same Bayern losing from Ajax in the spring of 1973 by playing total football. Bayern won the first leg 4-0 in Munich, but lost the second leg 1-2 in Sofia. It looked like CSKA were better than they were… true, they played as strongly as they could, inspired by their win over Ajax, but beating Bayern was hardly a result of German weakness. Learning their lesson from the ¼ finals against Ajax in the spring of 1973, Bayern changed their style – no more flair and free-spirited football. It was pragmatic and physical kind of football by now, oriented towards results, not fun. Hence, there was little point winning the second leg in Sofia, after having 4 goals lead. True, Bayern struggled in their progress to the final – they eliminated the Swedish champions Atvidabergs FF after penalties in 1/16 finals (3-1 in Munich; 1-3 in Sweden; 4-3 penalty win for Bayern) and agonized against the East German Dynamo (Dresden) in the 1/8 finals (4-3 in Munich; 3-3 in Dresden). So far, CSKA was the easiest opponent for Bayern and going ahead, they tied the first ½ final leg against Ujpesti Dozsa – 1-1 in Budapest. The second leg was all Bayern – 3-0. Germans to the final… nothing else counts and matters.
The other finalist was Atletico (Madrid). The Spaniards advanced unnoticed until ½ finals – they eliminated Galatasaray at the 1/16 finals with miserly 1-0 and 0-0. Dinamo (Bucharest) was largely eliminated in Romania – Atletico won 2-0 visiting, then maintained 2-2 in Madrid. The ¼ final went the same way – 2-0 away win in Belgrade, and keeping Crvena zvezda at bay in Madrid – 0-0. So far – nothing to brag about.
The ½ finals brought attention to the Spanish team – they faced Celtic (Glasgow). As results go – familiar story: 0-0 tie in Scotland and 2-0 Spanish win at home in Madrid. But Atletico played so mean, brutal, and ugly football, they brought outcries of indignation. The Scots were so outraged by Spanish brutality, no Atletico player is meantioned by name ever since – Madrid’s line-up is forever listed as Tug, Murderer, Strangler, and so on in the annals of Celtic. Atletico did not play football at all – but went to the final.
Photography is mercifull – doesn’t seem ugly, right? Atletico played one of the dirtiest games ever in Glasgow, making the Italians envious. Well, who cares – only winning counts.