Video of the Day: 1.FC Magdeburg vs Arsenal, November 1979

by | Feb 17, 2016

Arsenal take on Barcelona in the Champions League next week, but their adventures in Europe haven’t always been so glamorous. When Alan Sunderland scored his last minute winner for them against Manchester United in the 1979 FA Cup final, part of the reward for winning was a place in the European Cup Winners Cup, a run that would end up with a penalty shoot-out against Valencia in Brussels the following May. The First Round of the competition saw Arsenal comfortably through against Fenerbahce and on to a two-legged tie against 1. FC Magdeburg.

Magdeburg were the holders of the East German FDGB-Pokal, that country’s national cup competition. The club had come into its existence in its current guise at the end of 1965, and reached their peak during the following decade, winning the East German league championship three times in four seasons between 1972 and 1975 and the European Cup Winners Cup in 1974, where they defeated Milan in the final in Rotherham, their team at that time featuring Jurgen Sparwasser, who would come to international fame a month later in scoring the only goal of the game when East Germany played West Germany for the first time, in a World Cup finals group match in Hamburg.

In the First Round of the 1979/80 European Cup, Magdeburg had beaten Wrexham by seven goals to five over the course of two eventful legs in the first round when, having lost the first match by the odd goal in five, they won the second leg by five goals to two. In the first leg of their second round tie at Highbury, Arsenal won by two goals to one, so the second leg, held at the Ernst-Grube-Stadion (which was demolished and rebuilt in 2006) was balanced on a knife-edge. 1. FC Magdeburg currently play in 3. Liga, the third tier of the German league system, where they currently sit in fifth place in a division also which contains a few other half-remembered names from the days of East German football, such as Dynamo Dresden, Energie Cottbus and Rott-Weiss Erfurt.

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