Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Intercontinental Cup came back in 1976. It was not played at all in 1975 and appeared dead. This time Bayern decided to play – for the first time, after refusing twice, like Ajax before. Part of the reason most likely was German desperation – Bayern needed badly some trophies to convince their fans, if nobody else, that they were still top team. The opponent was more agreeable as well – it was Brazilian club, which was considered much better option than the usual murderous Argentines and Uruguayans. But it was not only South American dirty playing leading to decline of the competition: scheduling it was big headacke. There was never regular, fixed dates – it was more of mutual agreement between participants, as they found convenient time. Most often the two legs were played in September – October, but increasingly dates were moving towards the end of the year. In 1976 the first leg in Munich was played on November 23. Snow was falling hard… Cruzeiro’s players probably never saw snow before, let alone playing on it. As attraction, the first leg failed – only 1/3 of stadium was full, due to combination of bad weather, fans losing faith in Bayern, and the stupid decision of the club to increase the ticket price at the last moment.
Bayern fielded their eternal squad… Cruzeiro, not the best known to Europeans Brazilian club, looked quite dangerous: at least 4 players were well known to Europeans – Jairzinho, Piazza, Nelinho, and the rising star Palhinha.
1st. leg:
November 23, 1976

Bayern München (West Germany) 2-0 Cruzeiro (Brazil)
Goals: Gerd Müller, Kapellmann.

Bayern München: Sepp Maier - Andersson, Franz Beckenbauer, Schwarzenbeck,Horsmann, Dürnberger, Karl Heinz Rummenigge, Torstensson, Gerd Müller, Hoeness, Kapellmann.

Cruzeiro:Raul - Moraes, Ozires, Nelinho, Piazza, Vanderlei, Eduardo, Ze Carlos, Palinha, Jairzinho, Joãozinho (Dirceu Lopes).
Curously, Bayern had no advantage in the snow – Cruzeiro controlled most of the game, the tempo was slow, and Bayern struggled. Nobody shined and eventually Jairzinho was substituted. The match was not really good, but rather tough battle.

Horsmann tackles Jairzinho – it was 50-50 duel.

Playing on white, Brazilians proved equal – if Jairzinho was unable to overcome his lesser opponent Horsmann, the same fate suffered Hoeness struggling against Vanderlei.
But Bayern was never to be underestimated… Muller managed to score in the 80th minute and in the 82nd Kappelmann finished successfully the only meaningful attack Bayern organized for the whole match. 2-0 and that was final. Most observers already had written off the game by the time the Germans scored.
The second leg in Belo Horizonte was played on December 21, in the South American summer. Bayern had difficult travel and not enough rest before the match, but their real problem was the host team supported by nearly 115 000 crowd. Both teams made little changes.
2nd. leg:
Belo Horizonte.
December 21, 1976

Cruzeiro (Brazil) 0-0 Bayern München (West Germany)

Cruzeiro:Raul - Nelinho, Moraes, Piazza (Eduardo), Ozires, Ze Carlos, Vanderlei, Dirceu Lopes (Ofarlan), Jairzinho, Palinha, Joãozinho.

Bayern München: Sepp Maier - Andersson, Franz Beckenbauer,Schwarzenbeck,Horsmann, Weiss, Karl Heinz Rummenigge (Arbinger), Kapellmann,Torstensson, Gerd Müller, Hoeness.
Cruzeiro attacked, Bayern defended. Later Kramer said that his team was uncomfortable, for they were used to attacking tactics, but really… Bayern played mostly defense in every final, so what was really ‘surprising’ in Belo Horizonte? Bayerm had only one chance, when Rummenigge eliminated Brazilian defense and goalkeeper in the 40th minute, but missed the empty net. Cruzeiro, however, missed many opportunities – especially Jairzinho. The game was clean, a refreshing change of the ugly tradition, and as a whole the match was enjoyable. Beckenbauer had a storng game, but the biggest German hero was Maier, who saved everything possible and impossible.

Palhinha sandwiched between Maier and Schwarzenbeck. Maier saves once again. Jairzinho does not look thrilled behind…

Stand off: Palhinha(9), Dirceu Lopes, Ze Carlos (left of the refferree) vs Schwarzenbeck and Beckenbauer.
At the end, it was 0-0 and Bayern won. Brazilian press praised Beckenbauer and Maier for outstanding performance, but the Germans themselves recognized the element of sheer luck. Muller was especially modest, saying that it was impossible to say which team was better after the terrible snowy conditions in Munich. He thought both teams fairly equal and the result did not mean supremacy of the victors.

Cruzeiro against Bayern: top, from left: Moraes, Nelinho, Ozires, Piazza e Vanderlei;
Bottom: Roberto Batata, Zé Carlos, Palhinha, Jairzinho, Joãozinho e Raul

Bayern, pictured here just before the second leg started, with Cruzeiro at the far right, won the Intercontinental Cup. Finally at the top of the whole world. Hard work, determination, and iron will prooved stronger than luck. Brazilians recognized that, if not Europeans. Bayern finished 1976 quite well, yet, it was the last triumph of Beckenbauer and company. Their end was spelled out in curious fashion: Cruzeiro not only adapted better to the snow, but physically dominated the Germans both legs. Outrunning Germans already meant the end of Germans… but coming from usually weaker South Americans was especially ominous.