Saturday, March 10, 2012

Spanish football remained the same so far… Real, Barcelona, and Atletico (Madrid). Atletico finished third, completing the familiar stability on the top. Unlike Real, Atletico had strong decade – the 1970s were one of the strongest, if not the best, period in the history of the club. Strong enough to stay the third big club in the country, however, with bite enough to win something or other. Atletico was not really a contender this year, rather fighting with Barcelona for the silver. This fight was lost, but Atletico won the Cup. It was significant success in retrospect: it was the last year when the Spanish Cup was officially called ‘Copa de S.E. El GeneralĂ­simo’. Franco died this year, the monarchy was restored, and the Cup got new name – ‘Copa de S.M. El Rey Don Juan Carlos I’ . The long dictatorship ended, and with that – the Falangistas. Once upon a time Atletico (Madrid) was The Falangista club… they started and, in a way, ended the period.
Political symbolism was hardly on the mind of fans and players – football was. Atletico met Real (Zaragoza) at the final. Zaragoza, at the time, was hardly a serious opponent, but finals have their own logic, and Atletico extracted difficult 1-0 win. Neither club shined, but who cares – Atletico got the Cup.
Top, from left: Luis Perreira, Ayala, Marcelino, Reina, Leal, Benegas.
Crouching: Marcos, Ruben Cano, Leivinha, Marcial, Capon.
This is not exactly the Cup winning squad, but Atletico was similar to Real and Barcelona – for years, they used pretty much the same squad, with hardly any new players introduced. Techically, the Brazilians Luis Perreira and Leivinha were the newest, but they stayed with team for a long time, just like the Argentine Ayala. Compared to the foreign stars of Real and Barcelona, those playing for Atletico tended to fade, at least internationally – Luis Perreira, Leivinha, and Ayala were no longer included in the national teams of Brazil and Argentina. None was considered huge star in Europe and their names were rarely mentioned. The same was the fate of Atletico as a whole… they remained truly the third club in Spain, not expected to become bigger or better… but they were not finished yet either. At least not in Spain. So, the status quo remained intact… sparkless.