Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Cup final opposed Real Madrid to Sporting Gijon. On the surface, Real had enormous advantage – Gijon had a weak season. It did not show on the field of Nuevo Jose Zorilla stadium in Valladolid. Gijon fought bravely. Alas, they lost 1-2 and Real Collected the Cup.
Only a small club with practically empty trophy room could get some bragging rights from 'Sub Campeon'... not bad, really, but one can feel sorry for the underdog: they lost 2 consecutive finals – in 1981 to Barcelona 1-3 and in 1982 to Real Madrid 1-2. Would have been nice Gijon to win.
Real Madrid still finished the season with a trophy – unlike Barcelona, so they were still ahead of the arch-rivals. Well, domestically – Barcelona perhaps got the upper hand at the end by winning the Cup Winners Cup. Yet, it was difficult victory for Real and not a very memorable one – except for one thing:this was their 15th Cup. Which, at the end of the day, is just a footnote in the rich history of the club.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Second Division or Serie B. 20-team league, mostly consisting of former first division members. Small fry, though. Two exceptions: Lazio, which decline after 1975 lead out of Serie A, and Sampdoria. However, one should be careful with Sampdoria: their familiar name was established later in the 1980s. They were still relatively unknown club, more likely to be found in the second division – the bigger local club was till Genoa. Anyhow, 4 teams were relegated and three promoted. One hopeless outsider this season and two more just hopeless. Ten clubs tried hard to avoid the dreaded the 4th relegation spot – that is, more than half the league was preoccupied with mere survival. But 7 teams competed for the top spots – not bad, a tough, if not particularly exciting, race.

Once upon a time Pescara was in first division, but those days were gone – tremendously weak, they were last in the league with 17 points.
Compared to Pescara, SPAL were giants with their 28 points. Which translated only into a meek and half-hearted battle for 18th place. Lost promptly... the great years of SPAL were very long ago, almost forgotten and it had been steady downhill pretty much since the mid-1960s. Now even second division was too much for them.
Brescia won the battle with SPAL with 31 points. Which hardly meant anything... not only they finished 18th , but had no chance to escape relegation almost from the beginning of the season. Their horrible season was a bit of a surprise, though.
Ten teams – half the league! - generally fought to escape the last relegation spot and at the end 2 points was the difference between 8th place and relegation. Goal-difference decided final places, including the 16th place, which meant going down to third level. Perhaps head-to-head records determined final positions, for goal-difference clearly was not decisive factor: four teams with 36 points, three of them with -7 goal-difference and one with -6. And that team went down...
Poor Rimini... they won 11 matches, 2 more than Pistoiese and equal to Cavese and Foggia. They outscored all their rivals and by far with 39 goals – the second best in this group, Pistoiese, scored only 31. They had the best goal-difference of the four... and they were 16th and out.
The luckiest of those 4 teams was Foggia – 14th. Almost joining Brescia on the way down, but surviving at the end.
Four other teams ended with 37 points, fretting to the end of course.
Cremonese was 11th and obove them was the only team with positive goal-difference finishing bellow 8th place. The name would be more than surprising today:
Lazio. 37 points, 38-35 goal-difference. In the middle of second division, but lucky to avoid relegation. Surprising today, but not so back then – Lazio was hardly an impressive name before 1970, more likely to play exactly second division than top flight, and the successful 1970s were more of an exception than the rule. But there were no new Cinaglias and Wilsons, coming from the foggy Albion, and the club sunk at the end of the decade – that is, for many, going back to where “The Eagles” belonged. And barely surviving even that. They were 10th.
A point above were two teams – well, this is already the upper half of the final table, but remember: 38 points was only 2 points more than what relegated Rimini had! Survival, not comfort.
Catania was 9th, losing 8th place on goal-difference.
And Sambenedettese was 8th – the highest placed of the those trying to escape relegation and the one of the best goal-difference among them: 38-33. They were, with Lazio, the only 2 teams of the lower 12 teams ending with positive goal-difference.

Standing from left: Zenga, Caccia, Bogoni, Cavazzini, Pedrazzini, Garbuglia.
First row: Speggiorin, Falcetta, Ranieri, Cagni, Colasanto.
Recognize a name? Well, nobody knew this guy yet. Walter Zenga – one could say he and his teammates did well this year. After all, they were 8th... but the final table looks prettier than reality: the boys could have been relegated just as easily.
A strange season – practically no comfortable and disinterested mid-table teams, but sharp division – 13 teams fought to avoid relegation and the other 7 – to get promotion. 6 points divided 1st from 7th. Six teams finished with equal points.
Palermo was last of the favourites – 42 points and 52-42 goal-difference. The photo is misleading – the official final table places them 7th, not 6th – and there was no real reason to be 6th, if goal-difference is considered – the higher placed team had better one. Palermo, however, scored the most goals this season and was the only teams scoring more than 50 goals in the championship. Which is quite telling... 52 goals in 38 games is nothing to brag about and that was the highest number.
Perugia was 6th – also 42 points, but their 37-26 record was just a goal better than Palermo's: +11. Was that the final criteria is hard to tell – it was not at the bottom of the league, so why here? May be head-to-head results determined positions.
Varese was 5th with 45 points and 42-30. Again, worse goal-difference seemingly placed them lower than Bari.
Bari - 4th with 45 points and 47-33. They and those bellow them lost the race by little, by they did.

Sampdoria ended 3rd, losing second place on goal-difference. 47 points and 41-25. Not exactly great performance, one may think, but it was enough to get them promotion. And that was all that mattered – second league champions may be sweet, but much sweeter was to go up and they achieved that.
Pisa was second with slightly better record than Sampdoria: 45 points and 47-26. Well done.
And lastly – the champions. Hellas Verona. First with 48 points from 17 wins, 14 ties. 7 games were lost – more than double the number of Pisa, which lost only 3. Frankly, Verona – there was no reason to call them Hellas Verona yet – did not excel in anything, but squirreled most points somewhat and finished at the top.
Standing from left: Gibellini, Penzo, Di Gennaro, Lelj, Cavasin, Garella. 

First row: Fedele (cap.), Odorizzi, Emidio Oddi, Manueli, Tricella.

There was no reason to pay much attention to Verona at the time – the league was not great, promotion was a matter of luck to a point, and Verona was a club nobody heard of. Great for them, but in terms of Italian football getting stronger... hardly anything optimistic. Verona looked like accidentally promoted team – one-time wonder at best, most likely to be relegated in the next season and forgotten. And a glance of the final table supported such a view: it was the usual doggy, boring, stifled Italian football from the late 1960s and the 1970s. Few goals and plenty of ties: only one team had fewer than 10 ties and this team was dead last. In the same time Pisa, 2nd and promoted to first division, tied 23 matches! Reggiana – 21! 13 teams scored 1 or less goal-per-game average. Not a single team managed to win 50% of their games – the highest number was 17 wins, shared by Verona and Sampdoria. So to see some nobodies winning the championship was hardly a positive sign – rather, it was a pessimistic sign, suggesting general weakness. Lazio barely escaped relegation, Brescia relegated... how good Verona could be in view of that? Not much. Some guys named Tricella and Di Gennaro? And who exactly were they? But it was fantastically happy ending at Verona, they went up – let them enjoy the moment. And prove pessimists wrong eventually.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Saturday, June 10, 2017

West Germany I Division:

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

West Germany Second Division:

Sunday, June 4, 2017

West Germany. Regional leagues:

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

European Player Of The Year:

Monday, May 22, 2017

Toyota Cup – or the Intercontinental Cup. The new name did not capture the minds yet and actually never did, but one thing was already certain: the venue was comfortable enough for the Europeans and the date agreeable. Aston Villa vs Penarol. When one looks back, Penarol had more than the edge – unlike Aston Villa, they had much more well known names. But that could be only from the distance of time – at the real moment Europeans were familiar with the English squad, which was not particularly famous, but still had some newly discovered talent. May be that on paper, not so on the pitch – playing at the end of the year in Northern hemisphere theoretically favoured the English team. However, Penarol was on a roll: they won Copa Libertadores only a month earlier. And it showed. 
Shaw was perhaps the most dangerous Villa striker, but Penarol was perhaps better prepared to battle an English team: the long Uruguayan tradition to play fearless physical and dirty kind of football quickly took away whatever advantage in strength Aston Villa had. 
Aston Villa was 'impotent' in front of the net, according to El Grafico, but fair is fair: Penarol was determined to win and defended fought for every inch, to the last. 
It was not just defensive play – Penarol attacked dangerously in every opportunity. 
Jair shined – and made himself 'discovered'. 
He opened the result from a free kick in the 26th minute. 
Walkir Silva made it 2-0 in the 67th minute. Some sources, including the international statisticians site, give Charrua as a scorer – at best, it could be Silva's nickname, for there was player no with the name of the extinct aboriginal inhabitants of Uruguay on the pitch. Aston Villa was unable to return a goal and lost. 
Luis Paulino Siles CRC, Chan Tam Sun HKG, Toshiakazu Sano JPN
63.000, National Stadium, Tokyo, Japan
1-0 Jair 27, 2-0 Silva 68

PEÑAROL:  (Coach:  Hugo Bagnulo)
Gustavo Fernández, Walter Olivera, Nelson Gutiérrez, Víctor Hugo Diogo, Miguel Bossio, Juan Vicente Morales, Venancio Ramos, Mario Saralegui, Fernando Morena, JAIR Gonçalves, Walkir Silva

ASTON VILLA:  (Coach:  Tony Burton)
Rimmer, Jones, Ken McNaught, Desmond Bremner, Williams, Evans, Mortimer, Cowans, Shaw, Peter Withe, Morley
The end – winners ready to celebrate.
Captain Walter Olivera lifts the Intercontinental Cup. 
At the top of the world.
Jair got one more trophy too – the player of the game gets brand new Toyota.
The triumphal moment.

Penarol won its 3rd Intercontinental Cup, a great success. 
Unfortunately, Aston Villa lost. Miracles cannot happen all the time – the team was no longer in the from which made them champions of England and Europe. To a point, Aston Villa overachieved and perhaps failed to build on their success. A good squad, but hardly extraordinary – no enough classy players to keep them on top for long. May be they were tired and preoccupied too – December is important and much demanding month in English football.  

 Kings of the world! Standing from left: Victor Hugo Diogo, Nelson Gutiérrez, Miguel Bossio, Walter Olivera, Juan Vicente Morales, Gustavo Fernández.
First row: Walkir Silva, Mario Saralegui, Fernando Morena, JAIR Gonçalves Prates, Venancio Ramos.
Fabulous year for Penarol – in their illustrious history that may not have been the most legendary squad, but certainly the season itself was one of their very finest. Champions of Uruguay, champions of South America, champions of the World. No doubt, due has to be paid to the man behind all that success: Víctor Hugo Bagnulo Fernández.
Nearly 70-years old Bagnulo (born 1915) was not all that well known internationally, but he was already a Penarol legend: he mastered the great Penarol of the late 1950s and early 1960s, the squad, which dominated the world – although, the fruits came under the guidance of Roberto Scarone.  Bagnulo, however, was successful too – before 1983, he already made Penarol champions 4 times and qualified Uruguay for the 1974 World Cup (not the best campaign, so he was replaced before the finals). 1982 was the finest year of his career, winning everything possible with Penarol – just before retirement, so it was fantastic to end his career as a conqueror of the world. 
 Penarol had a good chance to become domineering team, if one considers what they had at the end of 1982 – but it was not to be, largely for economic reasons. Bagnulo retired, which was inevitable, but, if it was an European club, Penarol would have hired reinforcements right away – something impossible in Uruguay.