Monday, November 7, 2011

It was mainly matches at home, ending in ties:
2-2 against Poland.
Deyna shoots, Varadin is late to block, Viktor getting ready to dive, but the ball seemingly is off target.
A penalty against Poland. Tomaszewski protested the penalty against Gorgon, but he saved Masny’s kick.
Jozef Moder tackled by Hungarian defender in Budapest. If anything, the match with Hungary was played on better pitch, but 1-1.
Fighting the mud along with DDR to another tie. Weisse strikes somehow, Gogh is too late to prevent.
After the mud came the snow and Romania.
Pivarnik (left) and Masny unable to penetrate Romanian defense.
Pivarnik in attack – never mind the snow, he displayed the qualities of modern full back – that is, joined the strikers.
Svehlik escapes from Angelini’s tackle.
Nehoda strikes and Sandu can only watch.
But – 2-2 at the end.
And from the snow to the lake:
Dobias, Sajanek, Matvienko, and Konkov in the water just about a month before their official meeting in the European ¼ finals. CSSR – USSR: 2-2.
Not pretty pictures, not pretty results… why bother following Czechoslovakia in their fantastic friendlies against unexciting opponents? But it was in these games the team solidified and built character.
Panenka was praised in the snow: commentators said that he finally started playing for the national team the way he played for his club. He was not English-type player, so it was really something to get noticed when playing in impossible conditions. Closer attention should have been paid to development of Czechoslovakia in the mud, swamps, and snow – they were not winning, true. They were missing penalties, true. When summer arrived, they managed ties again – but won at the end in extra time and by penalty shoot-out. To my mind the string of friendlies was the key to the Czechoslovakian success.
One thing after major tournament is ‘lessons’… what new brought the tournament. The European finals actually brought nothing new. No innovations. Rather, it was obvious that total football spread and it was the norm. The formula of success was building well rounded team capable of playing total football and preserving excellent condition. However, hardly any new major stars emerged – the new European champions were just a lesser version, yet, very competent, of the great innovators from few years back. CSSR truly depended on collective game, more or less every player participated equally, and the importance of the defenders was reinforced: it was not the strikers scoring the important oals, but back-liners, surprising the opposition. The game was becoming tougher, though – traditionally mellow and technical team, CSSR suddenly displayed gritty pressure on the whole pitch. It was confirmed that not individual stars, but collective effort made a winning team – the age of great individuals was seemingly over.