Saturday, October 5, 2013

The UEFA Cup was the most exciting tournament in a way – because it proved more unpredictable than the other two European competitions. Interesting results started from the first round: Inter (Milano) lost to Dinamo (Tbilisi). It was classic Italian result – 1-0 and 0-0 – only the Italians were on the receiving end. The Georgians won in Milano for a good measure. Meantime the more famous Dinamo, the one from Kiev, was eliminated by a modest West German club – Eintracht (Braunscweig). Niether team won a match, but the Germans scored away goal in Kiev and the two ties – 1-1 and 0-0 – benefited them. Another big surprise was the elimination of Manchester City. It was 1972-73 all over again: mighty English lost to modest Poles. Widzew (Lodz) were modest even by Polish standards... yes, they had Zbigniew Boniek in their squad, but the young player was still – just a promising youngster. Manchester City was ailing by that time, but still... the Poles bravely tied the opening leg in Manchester – 2-2. A goalless tie in Lodz eliminated City. Major upsets were topped by a scandal – typically, Italians were involved in it: Fiorentina faced Schalke 04. The first leg in Florence ended 0-0, but Fiorentina was caught fielding a suspended player. UEFA awarded 3-0 win to Schalke 04 and the second match was more or less meaningless. In it, the Germans clinched 2-1 victory. Almost lost among so many exciting upsets was the last surprise – Marek (Dupnitza) eliminated Ferencvaros (Budapest). The modest Bulgarian club from small provincial town named back then Stanke Dimitrov, were unlikely debutantes in Europe. Only two years ago they were still playing Second Division football. Ferencvaros were not all that great, but nevertheless much more famous and obvious favourites. Marek won 3-0 at home and lost the second leg in Budapest 0-2. Good by, Fradi!

The second round delivered more upsets: Barcelona struggled against little known Dutch club, AZ'67. After two 1-1 ties, penalty shoot out decided the winner – Barcelona clinched 5-4 victory. At least they qualified... Schalke 04 did not – they lost both matches against 1. FC Magdeburg. The East Germans played above their usual form, as ever when they had a West German opponent – a matter of ideological importance more than sporting pride – but they were clearly supreme: 4-2 at home and 3-1 away. Lazio was also eliminated by unlikely opponent – RC Lens. The French won their home match 6-0! Six goals in Italian net does not happen everyday. Lens were clearly inspired, for although Lazio was hardly in great shape, they still won in Rome 2-0 – a result usually making the second leg meaningless, given the usual ultra-defensive Italian approach. The third surprise result was the outcome of Bastia – Newcastle United. The Corsicans rarely reached European stage and were not a club to last there, let alone impress anybody. Newcastle were not a big international name either, but still the obvious winners – before the games started. Bastia won 2-1 at home – a result seen as the best they can do, brave enough to overcome also-run British club, but... it was a result still favourable for Newcastle. There was no doubt Newcastle will win and qualify. There was a winner in Newcastle alright – Bastia again and it was 3-1 this time. Finally, there was another surprise, although partial one: Bayern had easy opponent, the already mentioned Marek. No need even to pay attention... Bayern won 3-0 in Munich. Yet, the Bulgarians played well and caught the eye of managers – three players got offers to defect and join professional German clubs: all strikers, the right winger and team captain Sasho Pargov and the twins Ivan and Ventzislav Petrov, playing in the center of attack. The scouts were hardly familiar with the Bulgarian players, though – Pargov was already 31 years old and even if he wanted to defect, it was to be pointless – the usual one year suspension for illegally leaving his club would practically finish him. But there was no way anybody would defect – Marek arrived with 34-persons strong delegation in Munich. 15 players and the rest consisted largely of Bulgarian secret police. Foggy affairs... and symbolically the match started 15 minutes late because of heavy fog.

May be Bayern saw themselves already in the 1/8 finals, but the trip to Bulgaria was a shock – Dupnitza is not far from Sofia, but travel is no fun for West Europeans used to comfort. Stadium 'Bonchuk' was notoriously unhospitable place for visiting teams, thanks to Marek's fans. Back than it had 30 000 capacity, 20 000 sitting officially. 35 000 attended the match with Bayern, not counting those watching from the trees outside the stadium.

Captains lead their teams – Gerd Muller at the left and Sasho Pargov, David and Goliath. One can see people on the trees outside the stadium.

In front of almost entirely home fans, frantically supporting their team, Marek started great. For somebody not knowing who was playing, it was easy to decide that Bayern was playing in red and Marek in white – but it was the opposite.

Gruber and Maier trying to stop Pargov.

Difficult life for Bayern – Maier had tough day. And Pargov (number 7) ones again in the middle of things dangerous for German health.

Ivan Petrov scored the first goal in the 33th minute. Five minutes later Sasho Pargov made it 2-0. The advance built in Munich evaporated quickly.
A third goal was brewing... Ventzislav Petrov (number 10) strikes a header. Maier does not look happy at all.

Another danger for the Germans – Maier can't do a thing, but luckily the ball is too high.

It was Marek to the end. Bayern was reduced to play defense, but Marek was unable to score a third goal. Bayern survived – the match ended 0-2, and the Germans qualified thanks to their 3-0 home victory. Yet, it was enough of an upset , for Bayern was down on their knees. Entirely. Bayern was in decline, of course, but losing to unknown club? Elimination was very, very close.

And Bayern was eliminated in the next round. This time they had much stronger opponent, unfortunately West German – Eintracht (Francfurt) won both legs: 4-0 at home and 2-1 in Munich. Barcelona survived again – they met increasingly stronger Ipswich Town. Strong, rising team, but Barcelona was supposed to be a super-club... and the favourite. 0-3 they lost in Ipswich. Back at home, Barca managed to win also 3-0. Extra time produced nothing and penalty shoot-out was to decide the winner. Just like in the previous round, Barcelona clinched the victory – 3-1. At least they qualified, for others did not. Dinamo (Tbilisi) was favoured against Grasshoppers (Zurich) – they won minimally at home, 1-0, but it looked like temporary slip. The second match was a big upset – Grasshoppers won 4-0! Torino was obvious favourite too – as good as Bastia were so far, it was not likely they will be a match to gritty Italians. Everybody is wise before events... Bastia won both legs. Not by much at home – just like in the previous round, Bastia managed 2-1 victory. Just like against Newcastle, the minimal win gave the edge to the opposition. And just like in the previous round Bastia played better away and won 3-1. To a point, the elimination of Standard (Liege) was also a suprise – Carl Zeiss (Jena)was theoretically the weaker club, yet, they won both legs.

After so many upsets, the ¼ finals reached few strange clubs – there was no Italian club at all, and only one English, West German, and Spanish. East Germany had the most clubs at this stage – two, Carl Zeiss and 1. FC Magdeburg. Bastia and Grasshoppers were very unusual names at this point too. The draw played its devilish role, as ever – Barcelona was paired with Aston Villa. Once again Barcelona struggled, but clinched victory at the end – 2-2 in Birmingham and 2-1 win in Barcelona. Eintracht (Frankfurt) had lucky draw by contrast – Grasshoppers. No problem... at first. The Swiss fought back and lost only 2-3 in Germany. Back home they extracted 1-0 win, perfectly enough for qualifying. PSV Eindhoven seemed a bit stronger than 1.FC Magdeburg, but many remembered that not so long ago the East Germans won the Cup Winners Cup, and at least physically they were pretty much equal to the Dutch. But it went in accord with expectations: Magdeburg won 1-0 at home, but lost 2-4 in Eindhoven. The last pair was equal – and thought the weakest. Bastia vs Carl Zeiss. One will go ahead, no matter which one... so far Bastia struggled at home and was more dangerous when visiting. May be Carl Zeiss had the edge. Well, no... Bastia won 7-2 at home. High scoring continued – Carl Zeiss won 4-2 in Jena. Fun, with so many goals, but after the first leg it was unseemly the Corsican would fail.

This season luck was playing cruel jokes practically in every European tournament from start to end. The UEFA Cup ½ finals were no different... one strong and one weak pair. The 'finalists' had to meet earlier – PSV Eindhoven vs Barcelona. And Bracelona, struggling so far, displeasing friend and foe, and reaching that far more thanks to willpower and grit, rather than playing strong football, finally met their fate. They lost 0-3 in Eindhoven and had no skill and strength to overcome so big negative result. Barcelona managed to score three goals – but received one too. Not enough. Meantime the pariahs fought their own drama – Grasshopers won 3-2 in Zurich. This was the first time the draw did not give the opening match to Bastia. Once again Bastia did not look very strong at home – they won 1-0, which was enough to propel them to the final, but still the team struggled at home.

Bastia in attack in Zurich. The match was played in heavy rain, not the best conditions, but the French still scored their two away goals – like they did in the ¼ and 1/32 finals. In the 1/16 and 1/8 finals they managed three goals away from home. Unlikely semi-finalists, a moment of Grasshoppers vs Bastia must be shown.

The first leg of the final was hosted by Bastia. The semi-final opening leg repeated itself – torrential rain. After four hours of it, the officials thought of postponing the game for a better day. The last word had the referee Z. Maksimovic from Yugoslavia. He inspected the pitch and declared it OK. The match started late and was not much of a match under the heavy conditions.

Johnny Rep trying to beat fellow Dutch.

Water and mud everywhere. The quality of the game suffered tremendously. At first, Bastia looked more dangerous, but eventually it was a matter of endurance and physicality – the Dutch were much better at that. Scoring proved impossible – there were very few shots at goal. Actually, there were only two occasions when a goalkeeper had to show his ability – PSV's goalie van Beveren saved both times. The match ended 0-0, nobody was happy, because of the difficult conditions, but the Dutch were confident. Their coach Cees Rijvers said that the conditions were 'nightmarish' , but he was satisfied with the result.

In the second leg PSV Eindhoven was clearly the superior team. They opened the result in the 24th minute (or the 2nd? Match statistics differ.) The Dutch were speedier, as expected to be, and got full control of the game. Two more goals were scored in the second half – in the 67th and 69th minute (or 65th and 67th?) - but long before that it was clear that PSV Eindhoven was the winner. Bastia had no argument, they were clearly outplayed from start. Simply, the opponents were not equal at all.

Helpless Bastia. The Dutch scored and won.

Final 1st Leg, Furiani Stadium, Bastia, 26 Apr 1978, att 15000

SEC Bastia (0) 0 PSV (Eindhoven) (0) 0

SEC Bastia

Hiard; Burkhard, Guesdon, Orlanducci, Cazes; Papi, Lacuesta (Felix),

Larios; Rep, Krimau, Mariot

PSV (Eindhoven)

Van Beveren; Van Kraay, Krijgh, Stevens, Brandts, Poortvliet;

Van der Kuijlen, W.Van de Kerkhof, Deijkers; R.Van de Kerkhof,


Final 2nd Leg, Philips Stadion, Eindhoven, 9 May 1978, att 27000

PSV (Eindhoven) (1) 3 SEC Bastia (0) 0

24' 1-0 PSV: W.Van de Kerkhof

67' 2-0 PSV: Deijkers

69' 3-0 PSV: Van der Kuijlen

PSV won 3-0 on aggregate

PSV (Eindhoven)

Van Beveren; Krijgh, Stevens, Van Kraay (Deacy), Brandts;

W.Van de Kerkhof, Poortvliet, Van der Kuijlen; Lubse, Deijkers,

R.Van de Kerkhof

SEC Bastia

Hiard (Weller); Marchioni, Orlanducci, Guesdon, Cazes; Lacuesta,

Larios, Papi; Rep, Krimau, Mario (De Zerbi)

Heroic Bastia, reaching to the finals. It was a season of the undergdog – three brave unlikely finalists in the Eureopean cups: FC Brugge, Austria Vienna, and Bastia. It is always great to see smaller clubs that far, but it was also clear that the great clubs of Europe were not in good shape. Lucky draws helped too, but the European finals were not very exciting this year. Except for FC Brugge, the mavericks were not equal to the challenge, when meeting really strong clubs. Like Austria, Bastia was easily outplayed at the final and looked entirely inferior. A general decline of game quality was detected, yet, the success of Bastia should not be just brushed aside. This was arguably the best ever squad of Bastia and certainly the most successful. In terms of club history, a legendary team. In reality – not bad at all. Not first raters in French context may be, but still well respected players like Orlanducci, Guesdon, and Papi. Very promising Lacuesta and Larios. Solid squad, having a great world famous superstar as well – Johnny Rep. Bastia had quite famous imports before, but this time it was different – perhaps the biggest name previously playing for Bastia was Dragan Djajic, who came at the twilight of his illustrious career, clearly going downhill. Rep was in his prime His Spanish spell did not go all that well and perhaps he was a bit fading, but still he was young, still world class, still invaluable for the national team of Holland, and determined to recover his great reputation after not so successful years with Valencia. Rep was incredible addition to the team, providing very high quality of playing and inspiration. As a whole, Bastia did not have a team capable of challenging the top French clubs for the title, but good enough to be among the best five. In Europe, it was wonderful year, elevating Bastia to the best ever performances of French clubs: so far, only Reims and Saint Etienne reached European finals. Bastia were the third club. Great achievement, but more than one Dutch was needed winning a trophy, as it was clearly shown at the finals.

PSV Eindhoven, rightful winners of the UEFA Cup: standing from left.: Jan Poortvliet, Jan van Beveren, Huub Stevens, Ernie Brandts, Cees Krijgh, Harrie Lubse.

Crouching: René van de Kerkhof, Adrie van Kraaij, Willy van de Kerkhof, Willy van der Kuijlen, Ger Deijkers.

Clearly superior squad to the one of Bastia – 10 Dutch national team players here. The strongest Dutch team after the great Ajax of the early 1970s. The van de Kerkhof twins already recognized as world class stars. Great team, in short. PSV Eindhoven was seen as the third fantastic Dutch team for some years already, but so far they failed to win anything on international level. First cup at last, well deserved, and finally proving that they were really top squad. In a sense, finally the expected burst of a third great club from Holland happened, but it was still bitter-sweet: they won 'only' the UEFA Cup, unlike Ajax and Feyenoord of the early 1970s. They won, but against clearly weaker opponent – it was not conclusive victory for many a skeptic, quick to point at many international failures so far. PSV still had to prove they were really strong. May be the next year? It was so nice already, though – happy winners of an European cup. The bar was raised too high for PSV Eindhoven – they were doomed to be always compared to Ajax and Feyenoord. Yet, in a sense, they proved stronger than Ajax – represented by Johnny Rep at the final. PSV Eindhoven easily destroyed Rep's Bastia, as if taking revenge on the old Ajax. And additionally they proved that Dutch football was still major world power. Still on top, still great... winning tells only that.