Saturday, February 25, 2012

Nice, Bordeaux, Reims – the faces of the old French football, the faces of either decline, or stagnation… the Cup final added two more: Olympique Marseille and Olympique Lyon met at the final. Lyon continued to be truly a Cup club – even in the season when they came dangerously close to relegation, they were strong in the Cup tournament, reaching the final for 3rd time since 1970. Bottom, from left: Chiesa, Mailard, Ferrigno, Mariot.
Standing: Garrigues, Chemier, Lanthier, Jodar, Valette, Domenech, Baldassara.
Compared to the Cup winners in 1973, this team look weaker – Lyon was going through generational change. Chiesa, Jodar, and their captain Domenech maintained the quality of the team, but it was more about attitudes than anything else at play here: good team, but hardly one to win a championship. Raymond Domenech – remember the coach of the 2010 French World Cup team? – represents the typical approach of ‘big’ French clubs: aging stars belonging more to the 1960s than to the 1970s were preferred.
Lyon lost the final 0-2 and Marseille won their 9th Cup. Good for them. Cup winners! Standing from left: Tresor, Victor Zvunka, Bracci, Baulier, Charrier, Bulgues.
Front row: Boubacar, Albaladejo, Yazalde, Bereta, Emon.
Not a bad squad? Iron duo in defence – Bracci and Tresor. Lethal attack – Bereta, Emon, Yazalde. Really? Instead of building a dynasty, as it looked like at the beginning of the 70s, Marseille struggled to keep postion among the top French teams. Big transfers were the hope, yet, they were more the key for the failure than anything: Marseille seemed stuck in the past – big names were bought one after the other, but those were fading stars. Some were outright disasters – Jairzinho and Paulo Cesar Lima. They were gone after a year, but who replaced them? Hector Yazalde. Yes, he was the best goalscorer in Europe. Yes, Bereta and Emon were French stars. But Yazalde failed to score for Marseille and Bereta, Emon, and Bracci were former French national players already. The squad appeared mighty on paper, but not on the field. With the exception of Marius Tresor none was player for the future. Marseille and Nice, and Lyon to a point, represented old attitudes and the results were negative. Luckily, Marseille won the Cup… they did not know the next trophy will come in 1989… dark years laid ahead.