Monday, September 20, 2010

The final was to be played in Brussels – so far, so good. It turned out to be unusual final and important one because of that. There was no winner after overtime, and the rules stated a replay. It was the first and the last replay in the European tournaments – rules were changed after the experience.

The original final produced no winner – it was scoreless regular time, showing rude, unpleasant brand of football. Atletico fought by every criminal mean and Bayern generally fought back – the Germans were not brutal by nature, but they never shied away from toughness, so they fought equally, thanks to their generally physical kind of football and excellent condition. But no one prevailed and in the war scoring opportunities were few, if any. Luis finally scored for Atletico in overtime – in 114th minute. As the clock was ticking away, dissatisfaction grew – it looked like the Spaniard will get the Cup after disappointing game. Clearly, they did not deserve to win, but Bayern struggled and Atletico constantly destroyed every effort for something creative. Then Schwarzenbeck went ahead and kicked the ball in a way similar to the CSKA’s Mikhailov kick against Ajax – almost out of desperation, but very strong kick from a great distance. And one minute before the final whistle it was 1-1, the equalizer scored by the most unlikely German player – Schwarzenbeck almost never went into attack, covering for Beckenbauer and the full backs. He was not supposed to venture in the opposite half of the field, but desperate time called for desperate measures – and they paid well. 1-1 at the final whistle, Bayern survived in the nick of time.

Final, Heysel Stadium, Brussels, 15 May 1974, att 49000

Bayern Munich (0) 1 Atletico Madrid (0) 1 aet

114' 0-1 AM: Luis119' 1-1 BM: Schwarzenbeck

Bayern Munich (trainer Lattek) Maier; Hansen, Breitner, Schwarzenbeck, Beckenbauer; Roth, Zobel, Hoeness; Torstensson (Durnberger), Müller, Kapellmann

Atletico Madrid (trainer Lorenzo) Reina; Melo, Capon, Adelardo, Heredia; Luis, Eusebio, Irureta; Ufarte (Becerra), Garate, Salcedo (Alberto)

Referee: Delcourt (Belgium)

Two days later – the replay. It was no contest – Spaniards were clearly exhausted at the end of the original final and did not recovered for the next match. They barely walked. In a sharp contrast, Bayern were perfectly in shape. There was only one team on the pitch, a match lacking even the ugly drama of the first match. There was no need for Schwarzenbeck to cross the midlle line this evening. Bayern scored regularly every 20 minutes or so, making it 4-0 at the end and collecting their first European Champions Cup.

Final Replay, Heysel Stadium, Brussels, 17 May 1974, att 23000

Bayern Munich (1) 4 Atletico Madrid (0) 0

28' 1-0 BM: Hoeness58' 2-0 BM: Müller71' 3-0 BM: Müller83' 4-0 BM: Hoeness

Bayern Munich Maier; Hansen, Breitner, Schwarzenbeck, Beckenbauer; Roth, Zobel, Hoeness; Torstensson, Müller, Kapellmann

Atletico Madrid Reina; Melo, Capon, Adelardo (Benegas), Heredia; Luis, Eusebio, Alberto (Ufarte); Garate, Salcedo, Becerra

Referee: Delcourt (Belgium)

Bayern lifting the Cup after skinning Atletico Madrid and donning Spanish skins like another trophy. Dutch reign over; German reign begins.

The aftermath is interesting one: Bayern were not darlings – fans enjoyed mostly of the Spanish loss, for clearly Atletico did not deserve to win. But how pathetic the murderers appeared in the replay! It became crystal clear how far football changed – Atletico were old-fashined in training methods and thus unable to play two high-tensed matches in two days. German training was the new way – perfect fitness. Desire and motivation were not enough anymore… they were good for surviving a singular match, and may be not even that. That’s one. Second, Bayern changed total football – beauty was abandoned in favour of effectiveness. It was the lesson learned by losing from Ajax, when Bayern played great football. No more of beautiful losers – constant moving and changing positions of total football were preserved, but joy and art were discarded. Just move enough to outnumber and pressure the opponent, attack, but maintain discipline. No need to outplay to opposition – outrunning them was good enough. Bayern was not exciting to watch – it was strong dominance, but rather dull. The Germans effectively killed total football by transforming it into increasingly physical midfield kind of game, a robotic kind. Another major change was more commercial than anything – the replay created unforeseen difficulties: TV paid for broadcasting in advance and it was not their fault they were getting two games for the price of one. However, it was difficult to react – crews had to stay in Brussels, accumulating expenses. The replay was difficult to fit in already scheduled programs in the last minute. The replay was not interesting at all. Clearly, replays did not suit neither football’s governing bodies, nor television. Nor the fans. Since finals are mid-week affairs played in foreign lands, club fans take a day off and go for one day. The next they are expected to be at work… The attendance dropped by more than half for the replay – from 49 000 attending the first match to 23 000 at the replay. Hardly profitable on one hand, and clearly absent support for both clubs on the other. It was as if people lost interest and did not care who will win the Cup. It was clear replays no longer worked for anybody involved. It may not have been decided immediately after this final to change rules, but they were soon – no more replays. Instead, penalty shoot-out was to decide winners after overtime tie. Everybody grumbles ever since, but replays are no solution either and the third form – flipping a coin – dissatisfies too. So, how to break stubborn tie then?