Monday, September 5, 2011

Cup Winners Cup. The tournament reached its lowest point this season. True, it was never exciting and increasingly becoming not the second, but really the third European competition, yet even by its declining standards it was bad – at least in previous years strong clubs played at the final. In 1975 the finalists were not so and both were East European: Dinamo (Kiev) and Ferencvaros (Budapest). It all depends on the standpoint, though – for some (myself included), it was clear sign of post-World Cup hangover. For others – a sign of decline, either of European football as a whole, or at least of this particular tournament. In times of superclubs, to keep a competition for occasional lucky one-timers was useless. There was a third part, naturally: they argued that everything was just fine and especially football in Communist East Europe was on the rise. Well, if one was supporter of Dinamo or Ferencvaros, it appeared to be exactly that. For non-supporters it was plainly fun to have new names contesting the Cup. From today’s point of view the skeptics of 1975 seem right: the tournament is dead for years now precisely because it was weak and no fun.
It was not that there were no strong candidates, however few: Liverpool, Real Madrid, Eintracht Frankfurt, PSV Eindhoven, Benfica entered the competition and were considered favourites. Three clubs on the rise; one recovering; and one aging, but still strong. Speculations in the early Autumn of 1974 quickly proved wrong – the favourites were eliminated one after another, and quite early too. Liverpool finished at the 1/8 finals after two ties against Ferencvaros – 1-1 at home and 0-0 at Budapest. The Hungarians moved ahead thanks to away goal. Eintracht Frankfurt did not go further than 1/8 finals, losing both legs against Dinamo Kiev 2-3 and 1-2. Benfica and Real Madrid advanced gloriously to the ¼ finals: Benfica managed a 0-0 tie visiting PSV Eindhoven, but lost at home 1-2. Real Madrid was better show: it was improving Real coached by Milan Miljanic vs his former club Crvena zvezda. Netzer and Breitner vs Dragan Dzajic. Real won 2-0 in Madrid. In Belgrade the result was the same, but for Crvena zvezda. It was almost bizarre: Breitner’s foul in the penalty area provided the Yugoslavs with scoring opportunity and their goalkeeper did not miss.
In a second, although it does not look possible, Breitner will foul Jankovic.
A rare moment in the 70s: goalkeeper against goalkeeper. Ognjan Petrovic (in black, on left) scored confidently.
Extra time proved goalless and Crvena zvezda won the shootout 6-5. Good buy, Real! In a way, the former pupils of Miljanic were better than his current ones. Real Madrid was perhaps the strongest looking team in the competition:
Potential great winners? Only in Spain.
Only PSV Eindhoven reached ½ of the early candidates for the Cup. Their hour of fame coming? The new great Dutch team? Dinamo won 3-0 in Kiev and lost 1-2 in Eindhoven ending the flight of the Dutch. Meantime Crvena zvezda, the other possible finalist by now, was eliminated by Ferencvaros after a 1-2 loss and 2-2 tie. No prediction came true this year, but it may have been fate too, for draws were ‘seeded’ or otherwise manipulated in favour of big clubs back then. Dinamo Kiev faced CSKA Sofia at first and the draw was no brainer – it was expected the Bulgarians to lose without challenging ‘Big Brother’. It was strangely tough, yet dull, fixture: the Bulgarians hardly played at all, but Dinamo struggled and won both legs by measly 1-0. Then they surprised Eintracht Frankfurt beating them both legs. Looked like the Germans underperformed. In the ¼ finals Dinamo was paired with Bursaspor. The Turks were hardly an opposition back then and lost both matches – 0-1 and 0-2. The Soviets lost a match only at the ½ - after comfortably beating 3-0 PSV Eindhoven at home, they lost 1-2 the away game. Hardly mattered, except to prove that the Phillips club was not going to be great. Dinamo had 2 easy opponents and 2 strong, and so was the case of Ferencvaros – their first opponent was hardly an opposition: Cardiff City, representing as ever Wales, although the English First Division was absolutely out of reach for Cardiff. Naturally, Ferencvaros won both legs – 2-0 and 4-1. Then Liverpool came and after two ties the Hungarians went ahead thanks to their away goal. The ¼ final was much lesser opponent: Malmo FF. Ferencvaros won in Malmo 3-1, but ended in 1-1 at home. Then Crvena zvezda in the semi-finals – 2-1 and 2-2 qualified the team from Budapest, although Crvena zvezda was the better club as far as names go. So far Kiev was doing much better job with 9 wins and 1 loss. Ferencvaros were kind of lucky… 4 wins and 4 ties. Were these two deserving finalists is pointless question, for they eliminated their opponents, when the ‘deserving’ Real, Liverpool, etc, ended at the short end. After all, it was telling that only one of the original ‘favourites’ reached the ½ finals. But it was also telling that the finalists were not exactly great… Interest alone was the judge: 13 000 fans attended the final at Bern. Sure, it was a small venue and in a country lukewarm about football, and thanks to Communist restrictions neither finalist had any home fans supporting it at the stands, but 13 000 is very low – only three finals had smaller public and all lowest attended finals involved East European clubs. It was not only the absence of fans: the media was not interested either. Neither club was deemed really strong and interesting. There was a suspicion that the Hungarians were not going to put a fight, either smart enough to grasp the idea of Communist subordination, or, if stupid, will be ordered to lose.
I had the same feeling and was certain that Kiev will get the cup without even pretense of struggle from Ferencvaros. My dark expectations were fulfilled – or so I thought – by the team Ferencvaros fielded: it was too young, unknown, and surely inexperienced. The names sounded wrong somewhat – certainly not the players of two years ago. At the other side Dinamo strutted on the pitch with their best.
The game was no brainer – it was one team show. Dinamo outrun, outplayed, outscored the helpless Hungarians. At the end, it was boring game, for there was only one team playing. Ferencvaros were so bad, I was certain they played their reserves. Tibor Nyilasi was substituted, but he he was completely unknown player at the time, hardly 20 years old. My impression of Ferencvaros was entirely negative: I though they played some kind of tribute to their veteran goalie and captain Geczi and the rest were deep reserves who hardly ever appeared in a real match.
The Soviets did not impress me either – as many a commentator, I found their football mechanical, uninspired, dull, and prefabricated. They moved like robots, doing prescribed limited job on assembly line. The only players I liked were Onishchenko, Troshkin, and Konkov. There was some inspiration and some freedom detectable in their moves, although it was clear they were severely restricted by tactical scheme raining supreme and ignoring imagination altogether. Perhaps the biggest victim of Lobanovsky’s mechanical football was Onishchenko, who operated on both wings, visibly by orders. It would have been interesting, if both wingers were changing places, but Blokhin never went to the right wing and from this Onishchenko suffered: moving to the left, he doubled Blokhin, there was no space for two speedy wingers and generally such moves confused and limited the Dinamo’s attack. Against better opponent such deficiency would have been punished, but Ferencvaros had no bite at all. One thing very obvious about Dinamo was their condition: they run with fantastic speed, never stopping even to catch their breath. Winning the game was sure thing – as they did – but also it was very suspicion display of physicality. Were the Soviets doped? Nobody can tell – no official accusation was ever made, yet, the speculations exist to this very day. However, suspicions came in full force a bit later – Ferencvaros were so bad, it was not to take much to beat them. As for ‘great’ Kiev (and fueling speculations of doping), it was surprising that they scored only 3 goals against dead Hungarians.
Onishchenko, the best player at the final, scored two goals. In a way, this picture sums the whole match: the Hungarians were late, clumsy, weak, and not a real challenge. What exactly is doing Geczi here? Hardly trying to catch the ball…
Leonid Buryak tries a header – headers were never strong point of Soviet players, yet, against Ferencvaros they fancied even headers and they kind of worked. With opponents so lame everything worked.
A miracle: Geczi saves the shot of Onishchenko (left, on the ground).

Final, St. Jakob Stadium, Basle, 14 May 1975, att 13000

Dinamo Kiev (2) 3 Ferencvarosi (0) 0
18' 1-0 DK: Onischenko
39' 2-0 DK: Onischenko
67' 3-0 DK: Blokhin

Dinamo Kiev
Rudakov; Troshkin, Matvienko, Reshko, Fomenko; Muntjan, Konkov,
Burjak, Kolotov; Onischenko, Blokhin
Geczi; Martos, Megyesi, Pataki, Rab; Nyilasi (Onhaus), Juhasz,
Mucha; Szabo, Mate, Magyar
Winners are always happy: Dinamo Kiev won and now even Blokhin (on the left) is all smiles.
The President of UEFA Artemio Franchi presents the Cup Winners Cup to Dinamo captain V. Kolotov.
The winners, patently looking grim. ‘The revelation of the season’, wrote Mirroir du Football… owned by the French Communist Party. Were they really a revelation? Finally USSR got a winning club. Finally a Soviet club looked strong. But… it was very dull year, practically the whole European football playing some kind of boring tired game. Dinamo really looked fresh when compared to others. As fresh as mechanic toys look fresh and eager to show preconditioned movements in pre-designed patterns. As long as battery runs… Dinamo were not fun at all and if they were the future of football… it was scary.
But let the boys enjoy their victory: bottom, left to right: Kolotov, Matvienko, Muntyan, Reshko, Onishchenko.
Top: Fomenko, Blokhin, Rudakov, Buryak, Lobanovsky – coach, Troshkin.
Konkov is missing for some reason. May be banished for smiling? Lobanovsky was not one to allow frivolity, but nevertheless his robots got the Cup.