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Thread: Retro Calcio

  1. #101
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    Greece

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    Picking up from the last post, here's a historic moment where Okocha was part of.

    Anyhow, here's the context.

    We're in the 2000-01 season and this is the second CL group phase. The other two teams in the group are Milan and Galatasaray. This is the 5th game out of six. Prior to the games, the standings were as follow, with the last games being Milan vs Deportivo and PSG vs Galatasaray.

    1. Deportivo 7 pts
    2. Galatasaray 7 pts
    3. Milan 6 pts
    4. PSG 5 pts

    Games are Deportivo vs PSG and Galatasaray vs Milan.

    As you'd be hoping if you don't know the result yet, Galatasaray yet again (see post above for the 98-99 season) beat Milan, this time with a 2-0 score.

    At the same time, PSG is leading 0-3 after 55 minutes. That means the table at the 55th minute would be (with Galatasaray beating Milan 1-0 at that stage)

    1. Galatasaray 10 pts (Q)
    2. PSG 8 pts
    3. Deportivo 6 pts
    4. Milan 6 pts

    But instead, this happened: www.dailymotion.com/video/x386jd (not sure why I cannot embed the dailymotion video)

    Pandiani scores a hatrick, Diego Tristan scores one in between of that and Deportivo sends PSG home whilst Deportivo is through.
    Okocha had scored the opener for PSG.

    Ranking at the end of that match day was:
    1. Galatasaray 10 pts (Q)
    2. Deportivo 9 pts
    3. Milan 6 pts
    4. PSG 5 pts

    What makes this even sweeter is that Milan has h2h advantage over Deportivo since they beat them in Spain and they need a win to send them home. But with a PK each, Djalminha (75th minute) and Shevchenko (85th minute), it was not enough for Milan. PSG beat Galatasaray at the end of the day and Milan ended up 4th in the group. There was no exit to the Uefa Cup for third place back then.

    Deportivo's ability to pull a rimonta in a very tough spot was probably born here. And we're thankful to Pandiani for pulling that off as he helped turn around a 4-1 to Milan with a 4-0 thrashing over there a couple of seasons later
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  3. #102
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    Greece

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    1996-97 Cup Winners' Cup semi final. This tournament was just great. Shame we never gave a rat's ass about the Coppa until Robeto Mancini came along because it'd be a winnable competition for us and now we'd have all three Euro competitions.

    First leg: Barcelona vs Fiorentina




    Second leg: Fiorentina vs Barcelona


    Some of the people you will see here are Ronaldo, Gabriel Batistuta, Luis Figo, Francesco Toldo, Josep Guardiola, Rui Costa, Fernando Couto, Miguel Angel Nadal (tennis superstar Rafael Nadal's less influential uncle), Ivan de la Pena and of course Claudio Ranieri.
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  5. #103
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    Greece

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    1998. The Italian football federation turns 100 and they celebrate with this game:
    <<Gli scudetti giusto vincerli sul campo>> Antonio Conte on Calciopoli

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  7. #104
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    Greece

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    So Flamengo won the Copa Libertadores in the final moments of the game, against run of play and completely unexpectedly.
    This was their first CL final since winning it back in 1981. When Livepool had also won the CL. Which meant they played for the Inter-Contentinental Cup. If you believe in destiny, then you have to accept that it was fate that decided Gabriel Barbosa would get those two late goals following the inexplicable defensive hiccups that led to the goals.



    Enjoy watching Zico tearing Liverpool apart back when football was still an international sport
    <<Gli scudetti giusto vincerli sul campo>> Antonio Conte on Calciopoli

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  9. #105
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    Greece

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    Following the recent Materazzi vs Zlatan online confrontation my mind of course drifted to other Materazzi affairs. Shevchenko was the first, but then of course the Zidane incident.

    Here's a catchy French song from a few days after mocking the whole situation that was one of the first real viral videos.



    One of those things that you couldn't stop watching/listening to
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  11. #106
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    Found this video





    It only needs 20 minute of a game, against the best 11 players of Europe, to see how good Ronaldo was. And how much better then Cristina Ronaldo, the fake Ronaldo.
    Nel bene e nel male, forza Internazionale!!

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  13. #107
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    Greece

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    Something festive for the holidays
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  15. #108
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    Greece

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    Rewinding to 1996. We're at the final day of the Euro group stage and it's Russia vs the Czechs.

    Table after first two games reads:
    1. Germany 6
    2. Czechia 3
    3. Italy 3
    4. Russia 0

    The Czechs advance on h2h record against Italy and the Russians need to win big while Italy loses big to Germany in order to have hopes.

    Italy-Germany ended up 0-0

    Here are the highlights of that epic deciding game in the group






    Smicer equalizes late in the game to send Italy home and the Czech Republic enables a run towards the Euro final only to lose in extra time to Germany in the final which included a fluke goal conceded by their goalie.
    Smicer got his transfer to Lens prior to the tournament but had he waited, maybe a rich contract could have been coming his way as teammates Nedved moved to Lazio, Poborsky to Man Utd and Berger to Liverpool. Three years later he ended up at Liverpool (and eventually scored a goal in the CL final with them against Milan )
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  17. #109
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    Greece

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    I know most people have not heard this name, but he was a legend in the 70s and one of the best forwards in the world. He passed away on the 24th of January.

    Rob Rensenbrink

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  19. #110
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    Greece

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    The biggest game in England: Liverpool vs Manchester Utd. Manchester Utd vs Liverpool. Probably the biggest intercity rivalry in England. The most successful clubs in English football.

    But there's a paradox. They rarely competed against each other for trophies. Whenever Liverpool was winning the league, Manchester Utd was dormant. Whenever Manchester Utd was winning the league, Liverpool weren't in the chase. It is extremely rare to find, amongst 38+1 (this season) championships a one-two finish of these two teams.
    In fact, here goes:
    1947: Liverpool 1st, Manchester United 2nd
    1980: Liverpool 1st, Manchester United 2nd
    1988: Liverpool 1st, Manchester United 2nd
    2009: Manchester United 1st, Liverpool 2nd

    4 times out of 38(or 39, suit yourselves).

    It doesn't really stop there. They have amongst them 32 domestic cup wins. Cup finals against each other?

    1977: Manchester United beats Liverpool in the FA Cup
    1983: Liverpool beats Manchester United in the League Cup

    Plus the following in 1996 and 2003:



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  21. #111
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    Greece

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    Sven-Goran Eriksson shares some moments from his career:







    Bonus:

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  23. #112
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    Quote Originally Posted by brehme1989 View Post
    Rewinding to 1996. We're at the final day of the Euro group stage and it's Russia vs the Czechs.

    Table after first two games reads:
    1. Germany 6
    2. Czechia 3
    3. Italy 3
    4. Russia 0

    The Czechs advance on h2h record against Italy and the Russians need to win big while Italy loses big to Germany in order to have hopes.

    Italy-Germany ended up 0-0

    Here are the highlights of that epic deciding game in the group






    Smicer equalizes late in the game to send Italy home and the Czech Republic enables a run towards the Euro final only to lose in extra time to Germany in the final which included a fluke goal conceded by their goalie.
    Smicer got his transfer to Lens prior to the tournament but had he waited, maybe a rich contract could have been coming his way as teammates Nedved moved to Lazio, Poborsky to Man Utd and Berger to Liverpool. Three years later he ended up at Liverpool (and eventually scored a goal in the CL final with them against Milan )
    The guy on the thumbnail and the GK at the time is current Russian team coach - Cherchesov I know you know it

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  25. #113
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    Greece

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    Romario, all goals with Brazil:

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  27. #114
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    Greece

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    Assuming everyone is at least equally bored.

    Have fun with a bunch of goals:




    (not all goals, sorry)















































    (Dimitris Saravakos, the best Greek player of the last 40 years, all his goals in Europe and at 2:35 he knocks out Juventus with that stunner )


    (speaking of Greek players, here's Demis Nikolaidis who retired prematurely after moving to Atletico in order to return to Greece and save his former club)














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  29. #115
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    Greece

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    Some crazy motherfuckers. Okay, mostly from Brazil:





























































































    And a cult football hero (category deserves own post) :



    So yeah, enjoy the Quarantine weekend
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  31. #116

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  33. #117
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    Greece

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    A Brazilian special. Top 100 goals in Brazilian football for the previous decade.

    <<Gli scudetti giusto vincerli sul campo>> Antonio Conte on Calciopoli

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  35. #118
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    Greece

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    Greek national holiday today (albeit the wrong date for the event being celebrated but the church wanted to get a claim here so they legalized it on an important Eastern Orthodox holiday) so I'll spam you with some Greek national team Euro 2004 content


    This is a background collection, no highlights but it shows the whole tournament as it carried on, how the people lived it, how the Greeks all over the world were celebrating as the team progressed and so on. Some good clips in here:



    Obviously a great ride and unprecedented sentiment throughout the world for all us Greeks, but damn, I think everyone expected the run to end here:


    Greece had just beaten holders France deservedly but the next opponent was probably the most in form team in Europe and probably the best team of the tournament. The mighty Czechs. A team that consisted of Petr Cech, Pavel Nedved, Tomas Rosicky, Jan Koller, Milan Baros, Marek Jankulovski, Karel Poborsky, Vladimir Smicer, Tomas Ujfalusi, Zdenek Grygera, Tomas Galasek and Jaroslav Plasil among other very good players. Some of you may think "who the fuck are half of these guys", but trust me, most of the guys you probably never heard of were Inter targets at some point from 2002 to 2006.

    Coming off 3 wins in the toughest group of the tournament with Germany, the World Cup finalists and the Netherlands* who were after blood after failing in the Euro 2000 semis and failing to even reach the World Cup and minnows Latvia who had managed to steal points off of Germany in the dullest game I've seen in international football at that time. They beat the Dutch 3-2 with a comeback after trailing 2-0 in the first 20 minutes and then sent Germany home despite being aleady through and confirmed 1st placed with another comeback, for a 2-1 win this time. And then torching Denmark away with an emphatic 3-0 win. This was the team everyone expected to win the tournament after the Group stage.

    The game was so one-sided. People really didn't give Greece much credit prior to this and considered them an ultra defensive "anti football" team. Which wasn't a correct characterisation. It was mostly media attempts from England and other places to discredit Greece's advancement and their own collapse. I doubt most people really paid much attention to Greece before we beat France. But I think the whole world was watching that semi final and then it was obvious that Greece had no idea of how to attack for the vast majority of the game. The Czechs were just so much better. Then it went to extra time. It was the first and only time the Silver Goal rule was implemented. Unlike the Golden Goal rule, aka Sudden Death, where the next goal won the game, this was a rule that allowed the entire first half of extra time to be played and if there was a goal, there'd be a winner. In case a goal was scored in the 2nd half of extra time, the game would carry on normally until the 120th minute.

    And what do you know, the game was even at that stage and Greece became more dangerous. Chance after chance and then we were afraid that the Czechs would react and bite us in the ass in the 2nd half. But then we got a late corner. 105th minute. And the rest is history. This was the first and only buzzer beater goal I've seen in football that sent a team to an international tournament final.

    The win vs the star studded France team:



    And a general video of the Euro 2004, all goals:




    *I was planning on dedicating a post to the Dutch national team from the 1980s until the early 2010s. Will probably do it at some point this week since boredom has hit rock bottom
    Will also do one on the Spanish national team from the same period but up to 2006 since they have seen success after 2008.


    P.S: Fun random fact. I was playing Championship Manager the previous year (CM4, 2002-3 season) and I decided to pick Greece. I ended up winning the Euro and I remember telling myself what a joke this game was, too easy and unrealistic
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  37. #119
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    Greece

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    As promised, this post will be dedicated to the Netherlands and Spain.

    It all started in the Eighty Years War in the 16th century... Okay let's not go there

    It all started in the Euro 1984 qualifiers

    First, let's start with the background story.

    For Spain their actual journey should have started in 1960, but they refused to play the qualifier against the Soviet Union (first game was away, Franco in Spain, Stalin in USSR you know how it was) so they were disqualified by UEFA. Soviet Union played in the 1960 Euro in France and came up as winners of the competition. We don't know if Spain was better but for sure we do know that Spain's team consisted of mostly Real Madrid's players who had won the first 5 European Cups in a row. And Di Stefano was playing for their NT at the time. It was probably a 50-50 situation with the second leg being played in Spain but when politics were involved back then you had some weird stuff going on such as players being beaten up or even poisoned.

    Basically their team was Di Stefano, Luis Suarez, Francisco Gento and they had naturalized a Budapest born Slovak called Kubala who is a Barcelona legend. These were some of the greatest players in the world back then, so Spain's lacking of trophies could have been different if this juggernaut of a team had a shot in the first ever Euro.

    Until 1984, Spain had participated in 6 World Cups out of 12 possible, once as hosts (1982) with their best performance being in 1950 where they reached the Last 4 (it wasn't semis back then but a mini league) ending up 4th, losing 6-1 to Brazil but were in fact the only team (Sweden was the other one) that managed to not lose to eventual champions Uruguay! And it was also the only game they avoided defeat it. It all looked great from there on, with Real Madrid's power house in the making but Spain had managed to not qualify for the 1954 and 1958 tournaments! In 1958 they lost their spot to Scotland.

    But in 1954 we had the first possible encounter of Spain vs Netherlands in football, but the Dutch had withdrawn from the group. Turkey was the only other team there. So Spain and Turkey had to play each other for one World Cup spot. And Spain should have gone through, at least under what we perceive now as normality.
    Spain beats Turkey 4-1, then loses the other game 1-0. As this is a group, both have the same points, Spain has 4 goals for and also has a +2 goal difference. But no such rules were in place. Instead, they play a deciding game in a neutral venue and Rome was picked. The game ends 2-2. No penalty shootout existed back then so they basically settled these encounters by flipping coins usually. A kid that was in the whereabouts of the stadium was called to pick a team's name with his eyes folded. He picked Turkey so Spain went home. Tough luck, huh?

    As for the Euro, Spain hosted the 2nd tournament and won it at home by doing guess what? Beating the Soviet Union in the final! But they had failed to qualify in the next 3 editions and made it once again in 1980. Remember that not many teams participated back then, there were like 20-25 national teams around since most modern countries didn't even exist. That changed in the 1990s. So until 1983, Spain had played in 2 Euros out of a possible 6, winning the one they had hosted and crashing out easily in 1980 in the group (which was tough with hosts Italy, England and an underrated Belgium that topped the group there)

    As for the Netherlands, they were a regular fixture in the Summer Olympics football until the late 40s whereas Spain barely had 3 participations in the same tournament. Until the 1930 World Cup, this was the most prestigious place to play football in the world and the Dutch had 5 participations (with 3 Bronze medals) and Spain had only 3 participations (with 1 Silver medal). The Dutch also played in 2 World Cups (1934 and 1938) before the 2nd World War, getting knocked in their first game both times. They had not played in a major tournament until the 1974 World Cup which marked their Renaissance as they finished as runners up, lost in the semis of the 1976 Euro, then became World Cup runners up once again in 1978 and then were knocked out from the Group in 1980 on goal difference vs Czechoslovakia (1-1 the game in the final round) which was because they had a +1 difference with Greece whilst the Czechoslovaks had a +2 difference and both lost by 1 goal to the Germans. Sorry Netherlands. In the end, Czechoslokia beat Italy for the 3rd place playoff.
    The Dutch had failed to qualify for the first tournament since 1974 in 1982 which was the World Cup hosted by Spain. The Dutch were a disaster in a group consisting of Belgium (see above for 1980 team), France (led by Platini), Ireland and Cyprus, finishing 4th out of 5 teams.

    So here we are, in 1983. Spain had suffered a goal difference issue in 1954 as mentioned earlier. Now it was their time to bite.

    The group was set. Netherlands were clear with a +11 difference from Spain after they beat Malta 5-0. The Dutch had 22 goals for in total and Spain had 12. But the last game of the group was Spain v Malta. Spain had to score 11 goals to cover the distance and get through on goal difference.

    First half ends 3-1 for Spain after Malta originally had equalized. Then miraculously, Spain manages to go 12-1 and not just that, they also had a goal disallowed at the end. That means that Spain goes to the Euro 1984 whilst Netherlands stays home. Spain had managed 12 goals in their last 7 games and then proceed to score 12 in their final game.
    As you can see, this has caused major upsets. The Maltese were crying that they were drugged, they said that the Spaniards were doping, internal investigations took place where everyone in Malta was blaming someone else for receiving money to lose big but nothing really happened. Spain was through.

    Spain vs Netherlands ended 2-1.
    Netherlands vs Spain ended 1-0.
    So it was even between them.

    The infamous Malta game:


    History aside, this is a legitimate reason for someone to hate someone else and obviously cry corruption at UEFA for not having all teams play at the same time in the qualifiers.

    Funny thing. Spain almost wins the Euro in 1984, losing in the final to France!

    Spain manages to qualify for 1988 as do the Netherlands. Spain loses in the group stage, Netherlands wins the tournament! Against the Soviet Union of all teams, the same team that Spain had an unwritten rivalry in their early years.

    Both teams qualify for the 1990 World Cup in Italy. Both teams lose in the round of 16.

    Spain is a disaster in the 1992 qualifiers while France wins all of the group games to qualify for the World Cup, while the Dutch top a group with Portugal and Greece involved. The Dutch are in a great position and lose in the PK shootout to eventual winners Denmark, who were called from their holidays since what was called Yugoslavia back then had devastating internal conflicts so they were out of the tournament.

    In 1994, both these teams were considered to be amongst the favorites. They both reached the QFs, losing to eventual finalists Italy and Brazil. Italy beats Spain 2-1, Brazil beats the Netherlands 3-2. Both winning goals came in the final minutes.

    Here are those winning goals by Branco and Roberto Baggio respectively:





    (Here's the proper goal video, cannot find it with sound: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AaS4EJYv2Lc )

    What a way to get tossed out of the World Cup, huh? The semi finalists that year were Bulgaria and Sweden. I think it's fair to say that with some luck, we could have had a Netherlands-Spain World Cup final that year.

    Two years later, Euro 1996. Both teams lose in the QF in the PK shootout. France-Netherlands and England-Spain. The winers both then proceed to lose in PKs to the Czechs and Germans respectively and sit out the final. Arguably a back-to-back possibility of them playing in the tournament final.

    The World Cup is now in France and Spain manages to be upset by the Nigerians in the first game, fail to beat Paraguay in the 2nd and then take it out on the last edition's semi finalists Bulgaria by thrashing them 6-1. Too little, too late.
    The Dutch on the other hand are one of the heavy favorites to win the tournament. They show some inconsistency in the group but they come through, they beat a very hard Serbia&Montenegro team (called Yugoslavia still) in the round of 16 and then the famous Dennis Bergkamp goal that deprived us of a Brazil-Argentina semi final. They meet Ronaldo, Kluivert sends the game to PKs and they gloriously lose out in the PKs once again. But the Dutch hold an impressive record of reaching the semi finals at least 3 times out of 5 participations and at least the quarter finals in 4/5 attempts. The future looks bright, with them hosting the next Euro and having a great generation in a good age.

    They are heavy favorites in 2000 along with France, while Spain is also considered to be one of the hot teams. Netherlands beats France in the group to earn the 1st spot and meet the last Yugoslav team once again (to beat them with an emphatic 6-1) while they avoid their nemesis Spain by sending France to them. And France beats Spain in the QFs, whilst the Dutch lose to 9 man Italy with 2 missed PKs in regular time and losing to Toldo in the PK shootout.

    But at least they have their chances in the first Asian held World Cup. Or do they? In a group with Portugal, Ireland and Cyprus... Erm, where did we see those two before? They manage to finish 3rd and miss out on a great chance to do some more noise in the World Cup.

    A loss to Ireland sealed their fate with 20 points whilst Ireland sat at 24 which was as many as Portugal had. A win in Ireland would have sent the Dutch to the playoff. And Ireland didn't play a European team to reach the World Cup but Iran! I think it's safe to assume that the Dutch would have beaten Iran over two legs as well, perhaps more triumphantly than a 2-0 win and a 1-0 loss.

    Here's that game, look at the team that didn't make the World Cup and they even had absences:



    Spain on the other hand had a very strong team and could have gone to the final. Realistically the path should have been Spain v Italy in the QF and winner plays Germany in the SF and probably beats them. But South Korea had different ideas so Spain lost at the QFs.

    In 2004, Spain didn't make it past the group but the Netherlands was out for blood once again. This time they were lucky that the Germans lost to the Czechs in the group and having both Makaay and Van Nistelrooy in great form, they were led to the SF after finally beating a team in the PK shootout. This time it was Sweden, when Zlatan missed a PK (but not the final one). But the Dutch were underwhelming in the Semi Final against Portugal. Realistically, they stood a chance to win the thing as Greece probably had no answer for them and as the Greek players had said, they preferred to face Portugal since they have developed into some sort of a boogie team for them. Shortly before the Euro, the Dutch had also beaten Greece 4-0 in a friendly match.


    So now we're in 2006 Germany, the Dutch are still in the hunt while Spain tries to wake up and introduces some new blood. But after a great Group run from both, they meet their boogie teams and crash out. Spain loses to France and the Dutch lose out to Portugal in the round of 16.

    Euro 2008. Favorites? The Netherlands. Winners? Spain!
    The Dutch completely destroy Italy in the group, completely destroy France, then proceed to beat Romania for the 3/3. What's next? They lose out in the quarter, this time to the Russians led by Dutchman Guus Hiddink of all people!
    Spain on the other hand seems more mature than ever by destroying Russia, scraping a last minute win vs Zlatan's Sweden and avenging their group disqualification from 2004 against Greece with another late win. Spain beats Italy in PKS in the QFs, meets the Russians once again and beats them with a 3 goal margin once more and then faces Germany whom they beat with a Fernando Torres strike. Spain are finally European champions once again!
    The Dutch impressive run in the Euro continues as they have reached the QFs every time since 1988 but their record of reaching the SF 4/5 times goes to 4/6 times. Once again, we were deprived of a potential Spain vs Netherlands matchup, this time for a Euro semi final.

    But the wait is over. We're in 2010. Spain is having a bad start to the tournament but they manage to qualify from the group, whilst the Netherlands aren't impressive but they get their 3/3 results. And this goes on and on. Both teams usually are praised for their great football, but not this time. Yet this time the results smile. No PK shootout at all, Spain beats everyone 1-0 on the road to the final whilst the Dutch also scrape with minimum margin wins. And then it's the final. Spain does what they did best throughout the tournament, 1-0 win, just before the nightmare shootout for the Dutch who were down to 10 men 7 minutes prior to conceding.


    Here's the final.



    Bizarrely enough, they only competed in 4 official games against each other. The two being the 1984 qualification ones, the 2010 final. And the famous revenge of 2014.

    But it was just a group game, I'm pretty sure the Dutch would have traded that win for a slight 1-0 World Cup final victory.




    I tried to keep it as simple as possible, hope people enjoy it.

    P.S: I called Portugal the boogie team of the Netherlands and France the boogie team of Spain. Truth be told, Spain has beaten France more times than lost, but not in official games. Until 2008, France had not lost an official game to Spain with 5 wins and 1 draw. After that, starting from 2012, the Spanish have not lost with 2 wins and a draw. On the other hand, the Dutch have beaten the Portuguese only once in an official game and have 6 losses whilst only 1 game ended in a draw.
    Last edited by brehme1989; 27 Mar 20 at 14:50.
    <<Gli scudetti giusto vincerli sul campo>> Antonio Conte on Calciopoli

    #ConteOut

  38. Thanks (3): eduzee, Materazzi_23, MVD

  39. #120
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    Before "Tiki Taka", before Messi, before cunts like Busquets and Pique, before television ruined football, before the Nou Camp was a tourist attraction for matchday evenings, before the Ronaldinho hype, there was a sports club that reinvented itself in the early 90s. This is Barcelona. Mes que un club was a reality back then for all Barcelona fans. You supported Barcelona, then you supported them everywhere, not just 11 guys in a football field with complete ignorance of Andres Jimenez, Juan Antonio San Epifanio, Juan Navarro. The name of Valero Rivera Lopez giving you more goosebumps than the name of Johann Cruyff. You hear the names of Enric Masip, David Barrufet and Rafael Guijosa and you're filled with pride. These guys are Barcelona as much as Carles Puyol, Xavi Hernandez and Josep Guardiola.

    It began with their basketball team. A team that had to defeat a European powerhouse in rivals Real Madrid who were sitting at the top of Europe in both football and basketball at the time. Barcelona managed to create a team that could finally beat them in the late 80s and eventually became a strong team in European competitions as well finishing 2nd in the Euroleague 4 times (1990, 1991, 1996, 1997). This was followed by an excellent Handball program that brought the first ever European Tier 1 trophy to the club in 1991. A dynasty followed soon in the mid-to-late 90s, sweeping 5 Champions Leagues in a row.

    But for Barcelona fans, as all sport clubs fans, the crown of the jewel is always the football team. And Barcelona in football had been struggling. The early 80s in particular was dominated by the Basques (Sociedad 1981, 1982 & Bilbao 1983, 1984) and even one of the greatest teams Real Madrid had ever had could not dominate as much as they could have, but they took their turn in the late 80s by winning 5 in a wor. Barcelona only won 1 league title in the 80s, the 1985 championship. That was their first league title since 1974 and the one stop gap between Basque domination to Madrid domination. The drought was even longer back in '74 as their previous league title was in 1960, with Inter legends Helenio Herrera as managed and Luis Suarez as integral part of that team and eventual Balon D'Or winner, when they finished joint top of the league with perennial Champions of Europe and rivals, Real Madrid. Needless to say, Barcelona was not one of the teams you would think of when you talked about the best Spanish teams in the late 80s. They were seen as a strong team, popular in the Catalonia area, with good enough history, but they were far from being the definite #2 club of Spain and there was no question that Real Madrid was the absolute top team.

    By 1990, Real Madrid had 25 league titles whilst their main rivals Barcelona (22 wins) and Athletic Bilbao (23 wins) settled for the Cup. With Real Madrid having 16 wins. That was pretty much the way to fight for 2nd place in Spanish football.
    In the league, Barcelona was second with 10 championships, both Athletic Bilbao and Atletico Madrid followed with 8 championships while the next team in line was Valencia with just 4 trophies, with Sociedad winning 2 and the Andalusian clubs of Seville had only one between them, Betis and Sevilla that is. This has made Spanish football really one sided historically.

    Athletic Bilbao, true to their roots, have refused to 'modernize'. They refused to spend big, they refused to play any non-Basques and that meant that they refused to bring in foreign players. Barcelona won their last title with Bernd Schuster in the middle for the majority of the 80s. They brought Argentine sensation Diego Maradona to the club. It was becoming clear that Bilbao would struggle and be left behind since they could not compete with the same means. Bilbao to this day remains with 8 championships. Barcelona on the other hand, in the space of 30 years, has surpassed Real Madrid's 25 championships of 1990 by winning 16 trophies, whilst Real Madrid as we know remains the Queen of Spain with 33 championships to date. The difference of 15 league titles and a battle for 2nd place has been reduced to just 8 trophies, and a clear message that the race is for the top spot now and Barcelona will no longer be content to be the 1st in the village and 2nd in town. They're going all the way.

    But something brought this. Why was this Barcelona and not Athletic Bilbao, Real Sociedad, Atletico Madrid or Valencia, who also tried to dethrone Real Madrid during their late 80s dynasty?

    The answer came in the face of this man:



    This was the man Johann Cruyff - in his third season of managing Barcelona - was looking for.
    This was the man that skyrocketted Barcelona from a good side to a force that would dominate Europe.

    Hristo Stoichkov, El Pistolero.

    At the time only three foreign players were allowed and Barcelona already had Michael Laudrup and Ronald Koeman. They had sold Brazilian center back Aloisio to Porto to accomodate their new star. Michael Laudrup was a beast of a player (you can see older posts for him) who was selected by Juventus to replace Michel Platini. But he couldn't adapt to Italy, nor fulfill such a difficult task and he was sold to Barcelona. He refound his joy when he teammed up with Stoichkov and the legend was then reborn.

    Cruyff then decided in 1993 that he also needed to get Romario who had spent 5 amazing seasons at PSV. But that posed a problem as only 3 foreigners could be fielded at any time in the Spanish league and even worse, UEFA did not allow you to even have the extra foreigner on the bench. That alienated Stoickhov and Cruyff. But guess what? Romario and Stoichkov became best buddies. But they were all united in not getting along with Cruyff, including Michael Laudrup.

    Truth be told, Barcelona was going upwards since the late 80s as they had reached won the Cup Winners Cup in 1989 against Sampdoria.

    This made Barcelona's league title drought very short this time. Stoichkov won the league in his first season. And he'd win again and again and again. Four times in a row.
    In his first season, Barcelona reached the CWC final again, but this time lost to Alex Ferguson's Manchester United, but Stoichkov was out with an injury for this game.
    Barcelona had also won their first European Cup in their first attempt with Stoichkov. 1992 European Champions vs Sampdoria. The task to dethrone Real Madrid from Europe had began as they had failed to beat Romanian side Steaua Bucuresti in their previous attempt in 1986. At this time, Real Madrid was still the #1 team in Europe but only had 6 trophies, whilst Milan and Liverpool were close with 4 titles each. Milan was on the rise, too, whilst Liverpool was just returning from a ban from European football. Real Madrid on the other hand was lost when Barcelona dominated Spain. They were not accustomed to a team winning the domestic title 3+ times in a row. Not only because their rivals were becoming dominant whilst they were slipping away, but because this was unprecedented in Spanish football. Only Real Madrid had managed streaks like that.

    This made Barcelona and their fans arrogant. They believed that they had killed the beast and they were now on top of the world. Something that kinda stuck with them. This cockiness made them think that in the 1994 final in Athens where they were considered heavy favorites that they'd simply torch that casualty heavy Milan side apart, but instead they ended up losing 4-0 in a game where Laudrup was not selected due to foreign player restrictions (Koeman, Stoichkov and Romario were selected instead) and he decided to leave the club and end up with rivals Real Madrid the following summer... Laudrup leaving was essentially the beginning of the end for that Barcelona team, but they regrouped early on. As mentioned above, both Romario and Stoichkov had issues with Cruyff and then developed issues with each other. This was the tragic end of Johann Cruyff's managerial career at Barcelona. He signed Romario to reach the CL final in 1994, lost big because he left out his most influential midfielder due to the foreigner limits and then the team started to be dismembered. Stoichkov said that it's him or Cruyff, he moved to Parma for a year and then returned to Barcelona after Cryuff was gone, while Romario went back to Brazil, had a mini stint at Valencia and then remained in Brazil for the remainder of his very long career.

    That early 90s Barcelona was in fact one of the best teams ever and their football was very enjoyable to watch.

    Their post-Cruyff team wasn't terrible though and in the first season without him they came up with another CWC final in 1997 which they won vs Paris Saint Germain with new signing Ronaldo scoring the winning goal via the penalty spot. Their manager? An Englishman called Bobby Robson who had decided to take young Jose Mourinho as his assistant manager while Barcelona wanted their long term coaching staff member Carlos Rexach to take over that spot. Robson told Barcelona that he would not make the move if they did not allow him to appoint Jose Mourinho as his assistant. Robson won the award for best manager in Europe that year yet Barcelona promoted him to General Manager (think Director of Football) and appointed Louis Van Gaal to replace his managerial duties. With success, as he had won 2 league titles out of a possible 3 and comparisons between his team and Cruyff's were immediately drawn. Only difference is that the Barcelona Van Gaal was managing had Kluivert, Cocu, the De Boer brothers, Reiziger, Zenden, Rivaldo, Luis Figo, Sonny Anderson, Giovanni, Ciric, Vitor Baia and Mauricio Pellegrino. A long way from having just 3 foreign players.

    Some highlights of the Barcelona team in the 1990s, in chronological order:

    CWC semi final, first leg. Versus Juventus who have bought Roberto Baggio in the previous summer from Fiorentina




    As Juventus could only beat Barcelona 1-0 in the return leg, here is the CWC Final loss to Man United in 1991. An awful refereeing decision had Barcelona's equalizing goal disallowed.




    In the race for a back to back championship since the Herrera days of 1958-59 and 1959-60, a great win against a formidable opponent at the time who was sitting at 5th place in the league (ended up 7th) in Albacete. The away game in the first round ended 1-1. As you can see, Albacete had their chances before the game blew away.




    The first European Cup win for Barcelona vs mighty Sampdoria.




    Funny thing, after the Albacete game Barcelona had lost their next game to Tenerife away. Tenerife would also host Real Madrid in their final game and Real Madrid was top of the league at the time. Then this happened:




    Barcelona had never won the league title 3 times in a row. No one other than Real Madrid had achieved that. Last match day, Real Madrid top of the table, Barcelona within breathing distance once more. It all falls down to the final game.By now I'm pretty sure there's a Piaza Tenerife somewhere near the Nou Camp because guess what? This happened again!



    Barcelona won two league titles in the final matchday so Cruyff felt that he needed help. He also wanted to reconquer Europe, especially after losing to CSKA Moscow at home before the 1st ever Champions League group stage (which was essentially the quarter final of the tournament). So he brought Romario, who had made a promise that he'd score 30 goals for Barcelona, something that he was doing on a constant basis for PSV. And he did just that.

    Some of their great games in the 1993-94 season:

    The famous thrashing of Real Madrid by 5-0.



    But that felt like a one off for around a month. Barcelona would barely manage to win some games and struggled a lot, including a 6-3 loss to Zaragoza (3rd place that season)

    They rallied after this game winning all games but two which they drew:



    Which enabled this to happen. With Diego Simeone and Davorr Suker being the main threats for Sevilla at the Nou Camp while Super Depor relying on Bebeto to clinch the title in La Coruna.
    Well, what do you know? It happened again...



    Yeap, three times in a row, this time literally at the buzzer!

    The story ends somewhere here as Laudrup makes the jump for Real Madrid and beats Barcelona with a 5-0 of his own, but the Barcelona journey does not. They are here to stay, even if they lost 5-0 to freaking Santander as well.

    Revenge is sweet vs Manchester United:




    Big games vs PSV Eidhoven in the 1995-96 Uefa Cup Quarterfinals. Following the Bosman ruling, the motto became "if you can't beat them, buy them". Ronaldo was out injured at the time, but they did buy him in the summer. And a couple of years later they got Cocu and Zenden from them.

    1st leg, home.


    2nd leg, away.


    This is one of the last examples of pure, non-Bosman football. How hard it was for a team that we conceive as gigantic to overcome a team that competes for the Dutch championship (even if this was during Ajax's reign). PSV's only foreigners were Ronaldo, Nilis and Eidur Gudjonhsen. On the other hand, Barcelona had 5 foreigners with Luis Figo, Gheorghe Hagi, Prosinecki, Gabriel Popescu and striker Kodro. I think the rule was changed to 5 foreigners in Spain at that time but only 3 could play, something like that.

    First post-Bosman season underway and here's a show of strength from a team that boasts Ronaldo, Stoichkov who has returned, Luis Figo, Luis Enrique, Guardiola, Laurent Blanc, Fernando Couto, Ivan de la Pena and Giovanni in one of those beatings where the opposing goalkeeper is the man of the match.
    Foreign player limitations were still in place, but extremely laxed compared to the previous year. They'd keep softening up until the early 2000s.



    Or you can just watch all Ronaldo's goals that season, it pretty much sums up the season.

    Next summer Ronaldo was sold, Rivaldo in. Nothing memorable for the Champions League as Shevchenko with Dynamo Kyiv tore them a new one with a 0-4 defeat in the Nou Camp and a 3-0 win in Ukraine and Barcelona only managed to beat Newcastle 1-0 in the group. But they had won the league with ease, their first league title since 1994.

    They would repeat in the 1998-99 season.

    One of their best games that year:



    The last part of the decade was bittersweet and their season ended with that memorable Rivaldo hatrick vs Valencia with the overhead kick.

    But from the 90s, one of the last nice memories was this 2nd stage group game vs Sparta Prague as Barcelona reached the semi finals (and lost to Valencia) which had already deprived them of the Supercup earlier in the season.




    Nobody seems to pay much attention to this era of Barcelona, it's mostly a footnote these days.

    The only other club that has had a similar progress was Manchester United but that's completely different and their story is promoted all the time due to Alex Ferguson being the driver of it, unlike Barcelona where it was far different, and this had occurred in a time when there was a vacuum in English football and there was no one to dethrone. As I said in previous posts, Manchester United did not have to dethrone Liverpool, they just had to reach their league titles and surpass it. Splendid accomplishment, but it was not a real race against the top team.

    Barcelona had to dethrone Real Madrid, whilst Real Madrid was still in contention, beat them in their own terms, become European Champions and threaten to do it once more and remain in relevance after their best days.
    This was threatened in the early 2000s with financial troubles and management issues, but enter Laporta and the signing of Ronaldinho and hope was rekindled. Barcelona was a joy to watch once again, but the results wouldn't come. They brought in Davids to fill in the dirty role of the destroyer (on loan, just before we had signed him) and he had helped Barcelona return to the Champions League. And after that Samuel Eto'o was signed and the new phenom of Barcelona returned.
    Several years later, their fanbase grew, becoming a very irritating one and they became a team with some very annoying individuals such as Busquets and Pique, even if they host the greatest player of this generation in Lionel Messi and had other amazing players like Iniesta and Xavi from the academies and had signed a special player in David Villa amongst others.

    Until Barcelona's early success with Stoichkov, the Spanish league was simply an earlier version of what we have in Germany now, with Bayern emerging in the 70s and staying up there whilst no one else threatens their #1 status, whilst Real Madrid had done that already since the late 50s.

    So pretty much this is the real story of how a club stopped being a Dortmund and became the Barcelona.
    <<Gli scudetti giusto vincerli sul campo>> Antonio Conte on Calciopoli

    #ConteOut

  40. Thanks (2): eduzee, MVD

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