Monday, January 14, 2013

In order of playing for the Intercontinental Cup, Boca Juniors had to win Libertadores Cup, of course. This they did in September 1977. The Libertadores final fluctuated widely – from April to October so far – and the uncertain dates year after year affected negatively the Intercontinental Cup: it was difficult to arrange dates, when European season was in full force. Apparently, it was difficult to fix dates in South America too – with different season order, domestic seasons were right in the middle exactly when Libertadores final should have been played - the conflicting interests of the clubs probably prevented fixing a date. And the final was two-leg, unlike the European one decisive match played on neutral stadium. Travel was difficult in the middle of home season. But it was not two games either – so far, 10 out of 17 Libertadores finals needed a third match to decide the winner. The rules required at least a win and a tie, for away goals and aggregate goal difference did not count. It was already becoming a tradition three matches to be played – since 1970 there was no two-leg winner. 1977 did not break the tradition. Cruzeiro, the winners in 1976, reached the final, hoping for a second Libertadores Cup. Once again their opposition was Argentine, although Boca Juniors, not River Plate as in 1976. Argentinian clubs were the other tradition of Libertadores finals: an Argentine club was finalist every year since 1963. Back then it was Boca Juniors, the first Argentine club reaching the final. They lost to mighty Santos with Pele and did not reappear again until 1977. For all the fame of Brazilian football, Brazilians did not rule Libertadores – it was the Argentines. And among them, it was not the famous River Plate and Boca Juniors – so far they lost their finals, River Plate twice and Boca Juniors once. Now Boca had a new chance. Expectations, hype... little drifted to Europe. Veglio scored in the 3rd minute the lone goal at La Bonbonera and Boca Juniors won the opening leg.

Boca Juniors - Cruzeiro 1-0

3' Veglio 1-0

Boca Juniors: Gatti, Pernía, Sá (Tesare), Mouzo, Tarantini, Veglio, Suñé,

Zanabria, Mastrángelo, Pavón (Bernabitti), Felman.

Cruzeiro: Raúl, Nelinho, Darcy Menezes, Morais, Vanderley, Zé Carlos, Eduardo,

Ely Carlos, Ely Mendes, Neca, Joãozinho.

Referee: Cerullo (Uruguay)

Attendance: 60,000

Five days later Nelinho scored the only goal in Belo Horizonte and Cruzeiro won. This time it was quite a late goal – scored in the 76th minute.

2nd leg. Estadio Mineirão, Belo Horizonte, 11- 9-1977

Cruzeiro - Boca Juniors 1-0

76' Nelinho 1-0

Cruzeiro: Raúl, Nelinho, Morais, Darcy Menezes, Vanderley, Zé Carlos, Eduardo,

Ely Carlos (Livio), Ely Mendes, Neca, Joãozinho.

Boca Juniors: Gatti, Pernía, Tesare, Mouzo, Tarantini, Ribolzi, Suñé,

Zanabria, Mastrángelo, Veglio (Pavón), Felman (Ortiz).

Referee: Orozco (Peru)

Attendance: 80,000

Once again – a third match, played at neutral stadium – in Montevideo, Uruguay. Estadio Centenario – what a legendary place! The stadium built for the first World Cup in 1930. Was it the spirit of the stadium? Copa Libertadores reached new level of impasse – a scoreless tie. First time there was winner after three matches. Now what? A forth? Or innovation? South America inaugurated penalty shoot-out this year. Boca Juniors prevailed 5-4.

Play-off. Estadio Centenario, Montevideo, 14- 9-1977

Boca Juniors - Cruzeiro 0-0 aet 5-4 pen

Boca Juniors: Gatti, Pernía, Tesare, Mouzo, Tarantini, J.J. Benitez (Ribolzi (Pavón)),Suñé, Zanabria, Mastrángelo, Veglio, Felman.

Cruzeiro: Raúl, Nelinho (Mariano), Morais, Darcy Menezes, Vanderley, Zé Carlos,

Eduardo, Ely Carlos (Livio), Ely Mendes, Neca, Joãozinho.

Referee: Llobregat (Venezuela)

Attendance: 60,000

Scored penalties: Boca: Mouzo, Tesare, Zanabria, Pernía, Felman.

Cruzeiro: Darcy Menezes, Neca, Morais, Livio.

Missed penalty: Cruzeiro: Vanderley.
Captain Mouzo (Boca Juniors) and Ze Carlos (Cruzeiro) shaking hands at the beginning of the maraton.
El Loco in action. Brazilian strikers look dangerous – but no goal. They were dangerous, but try to scare Gatti!
And good bye Cruzeiro! Happy Argentinians with Copa Libertadores. Note the unusual white shirts – a colour conflict – both teams playing in blue – required Boca to use different kit. Normally, it should have been yellow. Was it back then? Never mind... perhaps they should have changed to white, it was their lucky colour, bringing then the first ever Libertadores. It was more then beating Brazilians – same Cruzeiro left empty-handed River Plate a year back. Now Boca Juniors was happier – they won Libertadores, when their arch-enemy had none. Mud, dirt, bruises, who cares – Boca rules.
Here they are – soon to end years of misery. Enough of Estudiantes and Independiente – Boca Juniors finally won. Just like Juventus and Liverpool in Europe – this year great old clubs finally won the big trophies.
Perhaps the coach of Boca Juniors deserves some words here:
Juan Carlos Lorenzo. For some reason, rarely mentioned in the actual time and hardly remembered today. Well respected, but somewhat local – the big names were other. Considering his career, it is puzzling he was hardly ever mentioned. After playing for years in Italy, Lorenzo started his coaching career in the simple ways of long gone days: as a playing coach at first. He worked in France and Spain at first and his influence was Helenio Herrera. Which means catenaccio... but at the beginning of the 1960s this was the vanguard concept, so Lorenzo was very much on top of modern tactics. Coached Argentina at the 1962 World Cup. After that – back to Europe, to Italy. In 1966 again coached Argentina at the World Cup finals. And again returned to Europe – to Mallorca (Spain) and Lazio (Italy). The first Argentine club he coached was San Lorenzo – he made them champions in 1972 and immediately returned to Spain to coach Atletico (Madrid). With them, he lost the European Champion Cup final in 1974. Atletico did not appear in touch with the new total football in 1974, and this may be the reason for the 'forgotten name' – Lorenzo belonged to the 1960s football. Outdated. May be. May be that was why his new Argentine club was relative newcomer to top flight – Union (Santa Fe). Lorenzo took the reigns of Union in 1975 and apparently did well enough to impress Boca Juniors. Hugo Gatti also joined Union in 1975 and the next year goalkeeper and coach went to Boca Juniors. Lorenzo revived the club – Boca was not that successful for quite some time, but with Lorenzo a new great era began. Boca won the championship, won Libertadores, won the Intercontinental Cup, won... but it is still in the future. Lorenzo's squad was a bit curious – various old-timers and bunch of solid, but not exactly first rate players. Gatti between the goalposts. Pernia, Sa, Mouzo, and Tarantini in defense. Tesare, Benitez, Sune, Zanabria in midfield. Mastrangelo, Pavon, Felman in attack. Iron defense, taking no hostages; crowded midfield, and practically one regular striker – it looked old fashion catenaccio concept. Except Tarantini, the squad was not young, but vastly experienced. It was- not a team remembered for fancy football, but their were not outcries about Boca's brutalities either. Compared to notorious villains – Estudiantes and Indepenediente (at least, to the Europeans) – Boca Juniors were like doves. Most likely the team was effective, but dull – even before Menotti Boca's players were not invited to the national team. Menotti used Pernia and Gatti for awhile, but no Boca player was a regular of the 1978 world champions. Tarantini already was not in the club – so none... curious absence, considering that Boca Juniors were at their best exactly then. Which mean they were dull... effective collectively, sturdy, dependable, but nothing special individually and very likely playing conservative, outdated football. But whatever they were, Lorenzo made them winners – a balanced, well working team, capable of overcoming Brazilians and West Germans. Lorenzo deserves to be remembered, I think.