Tag: Benfica

Video of the Day: The 1961 European Cup Final

Since the turn of the century, Spanish football clubs have dominated European club football, with eight wins out of sixteen tournaments in both the Champions League and the Europa League. Even this level of domination is as nothing in comparison with the formative years of competitive European club football, though. By the end of the 1959/60 season, Real Madrid had won each of the five European Cup competitions that had been played out whilst Barcelona had won the two Inter Cities Fairs Cup competitions played. The following season, however, saw that stranglehold start to loosen slightly. The introduction of...

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Eusebio & The 1968 European Cup Final

There was a time when it was a sport rather than a merely a business. The scene was Wembley Stadium, on the twenty-ninth of May 1968. In Czechoslovakia, the Prague Spring was in full effect. Just a few weeks previously, Dr Martin Luther King Jr had been assassinated in Memphis, whilst both Paris and London groaned under the weight of student protest against the establishment and the Vietnam war. A global summer of political tumult lay ahead. Professional football, meanwhile, trundled on, but serendipity had ensured that this year’s European Cup final would be played in London, at the venue which, less than two years earlier, had played host to the host nation winning the World Cup. And now, for the first time, an English club would be playing in the final of this competition. The benefit of hindsight might now allow us to believe that there was something written in the stars which determined that Manchester United would win the 1968 European Cup. This year was, after all, the tenth anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster, which had torn a gaping hole in one of the finest European club sides of the era and has since provided football historians with one of its great ‘what if’ questions – how close might the Busby Babes have coming to becoming the champions of Europe had death not intervened so cruelly...

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Five Great European Cup Finals

If you open this morning’s newspapers, you’ll see that, in the opinion of the hacks, it’s already a foregone conclusion that this year’s European Cup final will be the greatest football match of all time. This may or may not come to pass, but it has some stiff opposition to overcome if it is to join as much as the greatest European Cup finals of all time. Although there were nine consecutive years during the 1970s and 1980s when no-one could manage more than a single goal in a European Cup final (and English teams were the worst for this – the halcyon days of English clubs in Europe featured five successive 1-0 wins for Liverpool, Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa between them), there have been many European Cup finals that have been breathtaking events. Here, in no particular order apart from chronological, are five of the best: 1960: Real Madrid 7-3 Eintracht Frankfurt – Real Madrid, of course, owned the European cup in its early years. They had already won the first four competitions by the time of the 1960 final, played at Hampden Park in Glasgow. The signs of greatness were already there. Real had thrashed Barcelona 6-2 over two legs in one semi-final, while Eintracht had beaten Rangers 12-4 in the other. A few weeks prior to this match England and Scotland had played out a...

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Three Times Lucky For Manchester United?

How often, then, do cup winners get lucky? Ahead of tomorrow night’s European Cup final in Rome it’s a question worth asking ourselves, because there is a tendency, in cup finals, for those moments of good fortune to be critically important. In this respect, cup competitions are very different to league seasons. A league season consists of a large number of matches. Teams may occasionally stutter at the top or pull off surprise wins at the bottom (see Hull City beating Arsenal at The Emirates for proof of this) but, generally speaking, things level themselves out by the end of the season. The cups, though, are a different beast altogether. One slice of luck or one brilliant piece of skill by a player that one might have thought singularly incapable of such genius can win a cup in a way that it can’t win a league competition. If a league season is a marathon and not a sprint, then a cup competition is a sprint and not a marathon, to an extent. I say “to an extent”, of course, because the indignity of losing to lower placed opposition isn’t something that the biggest clubs like very much. They very much understand that league seasons level themselves out. This was a very welcome side effect of the conversion of the European Cup into a mini-league format (along with the extra...

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The 20 “Most Important” Football Clubs In The World

It doesn’t do any of us any harm to occasionally remind ourselves of the sheer blustering pomposity of the biggest clubs in football. Tonight’s ambassadors for “giving the fans what they want” (as ever, a thin mask for “making more money for ourselves”) are Milan, who had some very important opinions to give on the subject of a European Super League. “”I still believe a European league will be an unavoidable step, though it may take more time than expected,” said the Milan director Umberto Gandini. “Between the 50 most important continental clubs, none would give up playing in their respective countries”. Disregarding the increasingly popular opinion that perhaps the “most important” clubs should perhaps be expelled from all other competitions, packed onto a space shuttle with anyone that likes the idea of Milan playing Manchester United every week for the rest of eternity and sent to Jupiter so that they can get on with it there without inflicting it upon the rest of us, the use of the phrase “most important” which is the giveaway. The winding up of G14 and subsequent inclusion of the biggest clubs into the European Clubs Association was supposed to put an end to all of this, but it was simplistic to assume that the more atavistic tendencies of the biggest clubs would vanish merely because Michel Platini invited them for tea and...

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