Saturday, January 31, 2015
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
Of course, Olimpia won Copa Libertadores before winning the Intercintinental Cup. The formula of Copa Libertadores was part of the problems of the Intercontinental Cup – the tournament kicked in March and ended in July. There was no other way, however, considering the South American championships. Boca Juniors – reigning holder of the Cup – got a bye and proceeded directly to the semi-final stage. All others played the preliminary groups – 5 of them, 4 teams of two countries in each. Some easier than others: Group 4 was perhaps the easiest, for there Venezuelan teams played against Chilean representatives. The toughest was Group 3, opposing Peruvian to Brazilian teams. Only the winners went to the semi-final stage. Independiente (Avellaneda) won Group 1. The other Argentine representative – Quilmes, also from Avellaneda, ended last. Something expected... Quilmes were just happy to play in the tournament, the Colombian teams – Deportivo Cali and Millonarios – were not at the general Argentine level. In Group 2 Paraguayan teams were favourites – Bolivia did not count much. But the difference was no all that big and a single point was the difference between losers and winners – Bolivar (La Paz) ended with great scoring record, but with 9 points. Olimpia (Asuncion) won 5 of their 6 matches and lost one – to this very Bolivar in La Paz. Yet, 10 points were better than 9 and Olimpia went ahead. Group 3 was the most interesting group and also most surprising: Brazilian teams were naturally favoured over the Peruvians, and Palmeiras was the big name here. Alianza (Lima) was the likelier stronger Peruvian club... historically. Alianza was unable to get even a point, losing all their games and scoring only 5 goals. Palmeiras finished 3rd... The battle was between Universitario (Lima) and Guarani (Campinas) – the Brazilian team prevailed. No contest in |Group 3 – the Venezuelan teams did not win a single match. It was Chilean battle of sorts – O'Higgins (Rancagua) was not really at the level of Palestino (Santiago), which won the group without losing a match and receiving only 2 goals in their net. In the Group 5, the Uruguayan teams were considered stronger and they were – the two Ecuadorian clubs achieved a combined record of 7 points: the same as Nacional (Montevideo). Which finished 2nd , 3 points behind their arch-rivals Penarol. Like Palestino, Penarol did not lose any match and received only 2 goals.
The winners of the five groups, plus Boca Juniors, went to the semi-finals – two round-robin groups of three teams each. Group 1 looked tougher – as far as names go. Boca Juniors, Independiente, Penarol... Uruguayan football was not great in the 1970s, so Penarol was out of the race. Since goal-difference did not count in South America, there was no group winner – the Argentine teams finished with 5 points each. A play-off was staged in Buenos Aires – regular time ended scoreless amd only in the extra time Boca won, thanks to their star Mastrangelo.
In the other semi-final group no such drama happened – Olimpia (Asuncion) was way above the rest. Guarani (Campinal) and Universitario (Lima) did not won a single match. In contrast, Olimpia did not lose any – they finished with 3 wins and 1 tie. Four points ahead of Guarani and the battle was actually finished before the last match between the two clubs in Campinas: by the time, Olimpia had 6 points and Guarani – 2. The last match did not matter at all – Guarani blew their chances four days earlier, when they were unable to beat Universitario at home.
Thus, Boca Juniors and Olimpia reached the final. It was seemingly easy to predict final: Boca Juniors won the last two Copa Libertadores tournaments, Argentina was the reigning football world champion, and since 1966 Argentine clubs did not win Copa Libertadores only twice – in 1971 and 1976. For Boca Juniors it was 4th consecutive final and it looked like they were building a dynasty, following in the steps of Independiente (Avellaneda). Olimpia was the underdog by far... once they played at the final, and lost it. It happened in ancient time... in the very first Copa Libertadores, in 1960. Paraguayan football did not make much news anyway, but although the newest football sensation was Paraguayan, he was not playing for Olimpia. Still, a final is a final... anything was possible, especially in South America. Olimpia hosted the first leg of the final and won 2-0 – both goals were scored early in the match.
Aquino surprised Boca in the 2nd minute – 1-0.
2-0 in the 27th minute – Piazza doubled the lead. Perhaps Boca did not take the opposition too seriously... but if that was the case, they paid dearly. Paraguayan players were never famous, but they were historically very tough. The result stayed unchanged.
1st leg. Defensores del Chaco, Asunción, 22- 7-1979 Olimpia - Boca Juniors 2-0 2' Aquino 1-0 27' Piazza 2-0 Olimpia: Almeida, Paredes, Jiménez, Solalinde, Kiese, Piazza, Isasi, L. Torres, Villalba, Talavera, Aquino. Boca Juniors: Gatti, Pernía, Capurro, Mouzo, Bordón, J.J. Benítez (Palacios), Suñé, Salinas, Mastrángelo, Salguero, J.R. Rocha. Referee: Castro (Chile) Attendance: 50,000 Five days later Boca hosted the second leg. They tried to win, they failed...
The match ended 0-0 and Olimpia triumphed at legendary La Bombonera. 2nd leg. Estadio La Bombonera, Buenos Aires, 27- 7-1979 Boca Juniors - Olimpia 0-0 Boca Juniors: Gatti, Pernía, Sá, Capurro, Bordón, J.J. Benítez, Suñé, Zanabria (Salguero), Mastrángelo, Salinas, J.R. Rocha (Palacios). Olimpia: Almeida, Solalinde, Paredes, Jiménez, Piazza, L. Torres (Guasch), Kiese, Talavera, Isasi, Villalba, Aquino (Delgado). Referee: Cardellino (Uruguay) Attendance: 65,000 Then the Cup was presented to the new winners.
Hugo Talavera proudly shows it the crowd – it was great moment. Not only Olimpia won for the first time and on hostile stadium; not only they were the first Paraguayan winners – they were the first club outside the big trio of Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay to win Libertadores Cup. It was the first international trophy for Paraguayan football since 1953. Fantastic moment. Boca Juniors played their third consecutive final and lost it.
Standing from left: Mouzo, Sune, Zanabria, Pernia, Santos, Bordon. Crouching: Mastrangelo, Salguero, Benitez, Perotti, Suarez. This is not the team which lost to Olimpia – it is rather an illustration of the small shortcomings of Boca. Strong team, to be sure, but hardly one to build a dynasty. Strong players, long squad – Gatti, Squeo, Sa, Capurro, Palacios, Salinas , Rocha, the list was long. Experienced stars, but.. hardly top rate. There was something missing – a bit more class, a bit more talent, a bit more will. Boca Juniors won twice, but failed at the third attempt. Yet, they stayed as leading Argentine team and one of the strongest in South America at the time. Only they were not extraordinary.
Fantastic year for Olimpia – their first, but not last international success. Starting as underdog, the Paraguayans conquered Copa Libertadores in style: they lost only one match during the whole campaign: the away match against Bolivar (Bolivia) in the first round. It was small loss – 1-2. At the final Olimpia did not even allow Boca to score a goal, keeping a clean sheet. It was historic victory in every aspect, even the small one of using sponsor's add on their shirts – they were first in that.
Crouching, from left: Isasi, L. Torres, Villalba, Talavera, Aquino. Standing: Solalinde, Paredes, Kiese, Gimenez, Almeyad, Piazza. Anonymous team... no wonder nobody paid attention to them. But it was not a team of lucky nobodies – it was well made team, combining experience with young talent. Paraguayan players were never famous, but one has to keep in mind that most players of this team were members of the national team - and they were yet to add another victory this year. It was more than just promising bunch – some of this team would play and define the national team of Paraguay for years. Plenty of talent, which Luis Cubilla utilized in great way. Carlos Kiese (b. 1957), Osvaldo Aquino (b. 1952), Rogelio Delgado (b. 1959), Evaristo Isasi (b. 1955), Alicio Solalinde (b. 1952), Roberto Paredes, Luis Torres, Ruben 'Toto' Gimenez, and the missing on the photo Jorge Guasch (b. 1961) – young and bright, most of them already members of the national team, and they all played for it long. Hugo Talavera (b. 1949), the veteran, providing class and authority, also was a national team regular. One and a half foreigners completed the team with their solid experience: both were Uruguyan born. The defender Miguel Angel Piazza (b. 1952) was not famous, but was well respected player, who already had played for serious clubs (Penarol and the Argentine San Lorenzo and Newell's Old Boys). The goalkeeper Ever Hugo Almeyda (b. 1948) was a different story – he started his career in Uruguay back in the 1960s, but joined Olimpia in 1973 and played for the club until 1991! In 1975 he took Paraguayan citizenship and was included in the national team – he played 22 games for Paraguay. Already old, experienced, solid keeper. And he was not the only player loyal to Olimpia – most of this team played long years for the club. They became instant legends and remained so for the club, but most of them had big role in Paraguayan football of the 1970s and 1980s too. A great team. And Cubilla – also remarkably loyal to Olimpia – saw their potential, trusted them, and shaped them into internationally successful squad. Young coach and young squad – what could be better: thanks to this year Olimpia joined the ranks of the best South American clubs – and stayed there.
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Monday, January 19, 2015
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
The UEFA Cup. West German and English clubs were seen as favourites plus Spanish Valencia with Mario Kempes and Rainer Bonhof. Until the 1/8 finals nothing sensational happened – strong team were eliminated only when paired with equals. Thus, Athletic Bilbao was eliminated by Ajax, Twente by Manchester City, and Torino by Sporting Gijon in the the first round. In the 1/16 finals Standard Liege lost to Manchester City, Hajduk Split to Arsenal and Benfica – to Borussia Moenchengladbach. The only surprise was the elimination of Everton by Dukla Prague. In the third round Milan lost to Manchester City in a battle of equals, but other results were surprising: VfB Stuttgart lost to Dukla Prague after initial 4-1 victory. But Dukla won 4-0 in Prague and went ahead. Ajax was beaten 1-4 by Honved in Budapest and there was no recovery – they won 2-0 at home, but lost by a goal. Arsenal was eliminated by Crvena zvezda – the first match in Belgrade ended well for the Gunners: they lost 0-1 and nobody expected difficulties in the second leg. But Crvena zvezda played tough: 1-1 tie eliminated Arsenal. The biggest surprise was the elimination of Valencia – true, so far they were shaky as visitors, depending entirely on home matches, and the opponent was one of the rising English clubs – West Bromwich Albion – but Valencia was seen as the favourite. WBA tied their away match – 1-1 and won the home game 1-0. Three of the big favourites were gone in this round: Valencia, Arsenal, and Milan. The draw continued to play jokes in the next round too – Manchester City faced Borussia Moenchengladbach and Crvena zvezda – West Bromwich Albion. Borussia comfortably eliminated Manchester City – 1-1 away and 3-0 home victory. Crvena zvezda repeated their clash with Arsenal – 1-0 home victory and 1-1 tie away.
The ½ finalists were interesting group – the supremacy of West German football was confirm: so far, only one – VfB Stuttgart – was eliminated. Three of the last four team in the tournament were West German. Crvena zvezda – bravely beating the odds so far, for they eliminated three strong opponents – Sporting Gijon, Arsenal, and West Bromwich Albion – was the forth semi-finalist. Strangely, the three West German teams had weak season at home. Hertha and MSV Duisburg were trying to avoid relegation at the time of the ½ finals. This was seen as a prime example of the supremacy of West German football – even their lowest teams were way stronger than the clubs of the rest of Europe. One of the finalists was to be West German. Very likely the final would be all German – and it came very close to that. Borussia managed to tie the first match against MSV Duisburg – 2-2 and the second leg was at home. Relatively speaking, for Borussia almost never played international matches at their small stadium in Moenchengladbach. Home match, even when played in another city, is still home match... Borussia won 4-1. Hertha and Crvena zvezda were similar so far – both scored little and depended heavily on away ties, but if Crvena zvezda had tough draws and had to play with strong opponents, Hertha had it easy – Trakia (Plovdiv, Bulgaria) in the first round, then Dinamo (Tbilisi), followed by Esbjerg fB (Denmark), and Dukla (Prague) at the ¼ finals. Hertha were simply lucky so far, but... they were Germans. Crvena zvezda was hosting the first match – for a third time in row and for a third time they won 1-0. And for a third time they were expected to lose in the second leg and eliminated, and for a third time they tied 'the surely lost' match 1-1. Alas, no... in West Berlin Hetha won. 2-1. Crvena zvezda went ahead thanks to their away goal.
The final opposed one of the greatest clubs of the 1970s to strong and traditionally respected Yugoslavians. Crvena zvezda was no joke – they eliminated Spanish, two English, and West German teams. There was no favourite at the final. Perhaps Borussia was favoured a bit more than Crvena zvezda – but hardly in the Borussia camp. Fate continued to play its joke – once again the first leg was in Belgrade. In front of 87 000 frenetic fans, predominantly supporting the home team, Crvena zvezda continued to repeat earlier games: they opened the result in the 21st minute. And did not allow Borussia to score equalizer... but the match ended 1-1. Jurisic scored in his own net in the 60th minute.
Final 1st Leg, Red Star Stadium, Belgrade, 9 May 1979, att 87000
Red Star (Belgrade) (1) 1 Borussia M'gladbach (0) 1 21' 1-0 R: Sestic 60' 1-1 B: Jurisic (OG) Red Star (Belgrade) Stojanovic; Jovanovic, Miletovic, Jurisic, Jovin; Muslin (Krmpotic), Petrovic, Blagojevic, Milosavljevic (Milovanovic); Savic, Sestic Borussia M'gladbach Kneib; Vogts, Hannes, Schäffer, Ringels; Schäfer, Kulik, Nielsen (Danner),
Wohlers (Gores); Simonsen, Lienen
Nothing was decided yet – two weeks later the foes met again, this time in Dusseldorf and in front of half the crowd attending the first leg. Home advantage was hardly an issue, not only because Borussia played away – huge number of Yugoslavians were working in West Germany and visiting Yugoslavian teams always had massive support. It was to be great battle.
Captains Vladimir Petrovic and Berti Vogts shaking hands before the match – two great players eager to win. But it was not easy... Borussia took early lead – Simonsen scored from a penalty in the 15th minute.
The call was bit dubious – especially to Yugoslav eyes – but there was plenty of time. In which nobody scored again. Crvena zvezda lost the final.
Final 2nd Leg, Rheinstadion, Dusseldorf, 23 May 1979, att 45000 Borussia M'gladbach (1) 1 Red Star (Belgrade) (0) 0 15' 1-0 B: Simonsen (pen) Borussia M'gladbach Kneib; Vogts, Hannes, Schäffer, Ringels; Schäfer, Kulik (Köppel), Gores, Wohlers; Simonsen, Lienen Red Star (Belgrade) Stojanovic; Jovanovic, Miletovic, Jurisic, Jovin; Muslin, Petrovic, Blagojevic, Milovanovic (Sestic); Savic, Milosavljevic Berti Vogts, sporting Crvena zvezda shirt, collected the UEFA Cup. More tired than happy, but winner to the end of his playing days. The losing finalists became legends instantly.
Crvena zvezda had a strong team, which reached European cup final for the first time in the club's history. Strong campaign and, from some perspective, they were unbeaten – Borussia really did not score: Jurisic scored own goal in Belgrade and Simonsen scored from suspicious penalty. Almost winners... winners in folklore... legends are made of such stuff. But something is undeniable – internationally, this vintage was the most successful.
The main heroes – legends, without too many stars: Vladimir Petrovic, the only remaining player of the excellent squad of the first half of the 1970s, was the big name. Savic and may be Sestic were coming close to the great players of the previous vintage. The rest were not at the same level – but it was a good team and success may them club legends. If Crvena zvezda was at its prime, Borussia was another story. Berti Vogts and company with yet another trophy was one of the most familiar pictures of the time. But it was a swan song this year.
On paper, everything looked great – Borussia won their second UEFA Cup. The names were familiar and dangerous – Lattek at the helm, Heynckes learning the trade as assistant coach,Vogts, Koppel, Kleff, Danner – as alaways, Simonsen – European player of the year, Del'Haye at his prime, strong younger players – Kulik, Klinkhammer, the next Danish talent – Tycosen... Strong, but not as strong as the team of only few years back. One after another, the stars left – either retired or to play in Spain. The clock was ticking dangerously for the last great veterans... Alan Simonsen followed the path of Netzer, Jensen, Stielike, Bonhof right after the end of the season and went to Barcelona. There was nobody of the similar class among the next generation – Del'Haye, as good as he was, was not at all a great star and the others were reliable professionals, but no more. Decline was already taking place, inevitable decline – it was the end of one of the teams defining and revolutionizing football in the decade. They had one more spurt of greatness, but really 1978-79 was year Borussia stepped down – in great style, as winners, fortunately. This was their last international triumph – long decline laid ahead.
Monday, January 12, 2015
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Wednesday, January 7, 2015
Monday, January 5, 2015
Saturday, January 3, 2015
Traditional English football was alive – thanks to the cup tournaments. Both cup finals were attended by 100 000 fans each and were entertaining. Liverpool did not reach either final. Lowly Woolverhampton Wanderers and 3rd Division Watford played at the semi-finals. Neither was easily eliminated. Southampton and Nottingham Forest apposed each other at the Football League Cup final. Peach and Holmes scored for Southampton. Woodcock and Birtles scored for Nottingham. But Birtles scored 2 goals – and Forest prevailed 3-2.
Southampton was not much – they finished 14th in the championship and were typical English formation: one great veteran – Alan Ball, one or two current or rising stars – Chris Nicholl and Phil Boyer. A 'continental' addition,which apparently settled well – Ivan Golac. The Yugoslavian was the first of the new imports to reach a final. Southampton played heartily, but were unable to win the cup.
Nottingham Forest prevailed – it was not an easy victory, but it was theirs. Second League Cup in two years. One more trophy – a club without any just two years ago was quickly building a collection. So far, Brian Clough was more successful with Nottingham than with Derby County early in the decade. His finest years, apparently.
The FA Cup final opposed traditional foes – Arsenal and Manchester United. Both teams looked inferior in the championship, but excelled in the cup, thus actually showing that English traditions were alive. Competitive final too – McQueen and McIllroy scored for ManUnited; Talbot, Stapleton,and Sunderland for Arsenal. 3-2 Arsenal and the Cup was theirs.
Happy – and tired – winners. 5th FA Cup for the Gunners. They waited 8 years for that one. Had to wait 14 years for the next...