Jump to content

Best of the Champions League


Delima
 Share

Recommended Posts

Good read this.

 

Best of the Champions League.

 

More than 50 years ago, four French journalists were sitting around and commenting on the outlandish claims made by the English press that Wolverhampton Wanderers were the "Champions of Europe" simply because the Wolves had beaten up on a couple of touring teams from the Soviet Union and Hungary.

 

Instead of simply yelling about the absurd British claims, Around the Horn-style L'Equipe's editor, Gabriel Hanot, and its publisher, Jacques Goddet, writer and radio reporter Jacques de Ryswick and another writer, Jacques Ferran, organized the first-ever European soccer competition. Today, their brainchild, the Champions League, has become the most popular sporting event in the world with a global audience of over one billion viewers. In honor of its four founding fathers, we give you the finest four finals, players and teams in the tournament's 50-year history.

Finals

 

 

1960: Real Madrid 7, Eintracht Frankfurt 3: Don't let the final score line fool you. This epic battle between the Spanish and German giants was one of the most anticipated in soccer history. A record crowd of 127,621 ended up packing into Hampden Park in Glasgow, Scotland, on the afternoon of May 18, but they could have seated twice that many if space permitted. A crowd of more than 30,000 lined up before sunrise to nab a ticket.

 

What made the match so magical was that there was never a stop in action. The heads of every fan in the stadium swiveled back and forth as if they were watching a tennis match as they saw the two greatest players of the era -- Alfredo Di Stéfano and Ferenc Puskas -- put on a clinic. Di Stéfano scored a hat trick and Puskas notched four consecutive goals to open the second half to give Read Madrid its fifth straight European crown.

 

 

 

1962: SL Benfica 5, Real Madrid 3: After becoming the first club to hoist the big-eared trophy the previous year, SL Benfica proved it was no fluke as it defeated Real Madrid in Amsterdam and (briefly) put an end to the Spaniards' run of European dominance. While the game saw the end of Madrid's dynasty with Di Stéfano and Puskas in the twilight of their careers, it was the coming-out party for Eusébio.

 

The legendary Portuguese striker scored the final two goals of the game to give Benfica back-to-back titles after trailing 0-2 in the first half. The turning point in the match -- and Eusébio's career -- came in the 63rd minute with the game knotted at 3-3. At the time, Benfica was awarded a penalty and the confident 19-year-old asked if he could take the shot instead of captain José Aguas.

 

Persuaded by the enthusiasm of the youngster, Aguas obliged and watched as Eusébio not only hit the penalty, but also put another one in the back of the net five minutes later to seal the win.

 

 

 

1999: Manchester United 2, Bayern Munich 1: Less than three minutes -- 148 seconds, to be exact -- were left in what had been a rather ordinary Champions League final in Barcelona. Mario Basler's goal in the sixth minute had given Bayern Munich an early lead that it seemed destined to keep as the score line stayed the same into extra time.

 

With the Champions League trophy already adorned in Bayern colors, referee Pierluigi Collina looking down at his watch and Man United manager Sir Alex Ferguson planning his consolatory speech, the unthinkable happened. With United goal keeper Peter Schmeichel well past midfield and into the Bayern area, David Beckham fired a corner kick that found Teddy Sheringham in the box, who put it past Oliver Kahn for the equalizer.

 

Seconds later, Beckham found Sheringham again on a corner kick, but this time he booted to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who powered the ball into the roof of the net for the most dramatic win and improbable comeback in Champions League history.

 

 

2005: Liverpool 3, AC Milan 3: Steven Gerrard would be the first to tell you that Liverpool's supporters had more confidence in the Reds at halftime than the players in the locker room at Ataturk Olimpiyat Stadi in Istanbul. With Liverpool trailing 3-0 at intermission, after having conceded a quick Paolo Maldini goal in the first minute and a couple of Hernán Crespo strikes just before the half, Reds fans were chanting, "We're going to win 4-3!"

 

After the match, Gerrard admitted that he and his teammates, who came into the game as underdogs, thought the match was over and they simply wanted to gain some respect in the second half. They ended up doing far more than that. Gerrard's header in the 54th minute opened the flood gates for three Liverpool goals in six minutes and inspired the team to a shocking shootout win in one of the greatest soccer matches ever.

Players

 

Alfredo Di Stéfano, Real Madrid: His skills as a striker during the Champions League are mind-boggling. He notched 49 goals in the tournament, a record until last season, in leading Real Madrid to the first five European cup titles. He scored the most goals in European finals (seven), tied for the most hat-tricks in the finals (four) and converted the most successful penalties (10). Yet ask any soccer historian and they'll tell you the "Blond Arrow" was at his best without the ball. No player was more intelligent on the field than Di Stéfano, who influenced everyone on the field with his mere movement and intention, like a tango dancer from his native Argentina.

 

Ferenc Puskas, Real Madrid: For years soccer historians have marveled at Puskas' left foot as if it were Einstein's mind. Indeed, few players were as intelligent on the field as Puskas, who teamed with Di Stéfano to form arguably the greatest front-line tandem in soccer history. The Hungarian, who tied Di Stéfano for most goals in European finals (seven), hat tricks in a final (four) and successful penalties (10), was simply automatic on the field when the ball hit his famed left foot. Sir Bobby Charlton once said he never saw him miss a shot. Bill Shankly once noted that while Puskas was a 44-year-old coach, he saw him hit 12 straight shots from 18 yards out, all a foot inside the post, during a pre-match training session. "I don't know what he would have done from 12 yards with a penalty," he said.

 

Johan Cruyff, Ajax Amsterdam: No other player had more imagination or inspired more creativity than Cruyff, who helped usher in the magical era of "Total Football" with Ajax. His coach, Rinus Michels, once said that "Cryuff is from another planet." That description made sense after the Dutchman invented the "Cryuff Turn," a mesmerizing move where Cryuff would look to pass or cross the ball then drag the ball behind his planted foot with the inside of his other foot and dribble past a defender that was either laying on the ground or helplessly moving in the wrong direction.

 

Paolo Maldini, AC Milan: He may not have the gaudy numbers or as legendary a status as some of the others who have played in the Champions League, but few others are as respected and admired within the sport as Maldini, who was the first player to receive a special Champions of Europe plaque from UEFA to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Europe's premier competition. The four-time Cup winner scored the quickest goal in Champions League history when he converted the opening goal of the '05 final in 51.2 seconds. Maldini, whose father, Cesare, won the European cup with AC Milan in 1969, has also appeared in the most Champions League matches at 126, dating to 1988.

Teams

 

Real Madrid (1956-60): The level of dominance that Real Madrid showed during the European cup in the late 1950s could only be compared to similarly impressive runs by the UCLA basketball team and the Boston Celtics during the 1960s. Madrid won the first five trophies, powered by the impressive duo of Di Stéfano and Puskas, and were part of some of the greatest games in Champions League history, highlighted by its 1960 triumph over Eintracht Frankfurt.

 

Ajax Amsterdam (1971-73): Arguably the most aesthetically pleasing team to ever play in the Champions League or any other competition for that matter. The "Total Football" era ushered in by Cryuff, Johan Neeskens, Arie Haan and Johnny Rep was a joy to watch for fans and players alike, who sat in awe of the skills showcased by the lanky, longhaired Dutchmen as if they were Harlem Globetrotters doing tricks around the hapless Washington Generals.

 

Bayern Munich (1974-76): A decade after languishing in Germany's second division, Bayern Munich began its rise to European powerhouse around a trio of legends: Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Müller and goalkeeper Sepp Maier. Bayern's dominance was not only on display on the club level (three straight European titles), but also during the '74 World Cup, when six Bayern players took the field for the final against the Netherlands. Two of them (Paul Breitner and Müller) scored in the 2-1 win.

 

Liverpool (1977-81): The phrase "You'll Never Walk Alone" has always suited the Reds just fine. When legendary manager Shankly retired, his assistant, Bob Paisley, stepped in and guided Liverpool to three European crowns in five seasons. Those hard-nosed squads, which were built from the bricklayer mentality Paisley grew up with, were led by "Mighty Mouse" striker Kevin Keegan and defender Tommy Smith, and will go down as arguably the most dominant and successful in English soccer history.

 

In yet another example of Liverpool's resiliency, Paisley's assistant and successor, Joe Fagan, surpassed expectations by leading Liverpool back to European glory on his way to winning a rare "treble" -- League, League Cup and European Cup titles.

 

By Arash Markazi

Link to post
Share on other sites

Good read and definately pretty much accurate in my eyes, although I'm not sure about the 5-3 Benfica one (Truth be told I haven't even seen highlights of it) but the other three and the teams/players are all deserved.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Guest GHoeberX

lol they're having a laugh! Back in the 60s and the 70s the level of football was wayyyy lower. So basically all these examples of teams are dumb. Of the latest years, taking exactly the two english teams.... LOL (Liverpool 2005 wasn't great and neither was Man Utd 1999).

 

I still think the best of the Champions League was the Ajax 1994-1996 era.

Link to post
Share on other sites

lol they're having a laugh! Back in the 60s and the 70s the level of football was wayyyy lower. So basically all these examples of teams are dumb. Of the latest years, taking exactly the two english teams.... LOL (Liverpool 2005 wasn't great and neither was Man Utd 1999).

 

I still think the best of the Champions League was the Ajax 1994-1996 era.

 

Obviously too young to have seen Kryuff's Ajax play live.  That team was so far ahead of the opposition in respect of ability, technique, tactics and performance I'd rate them better than Real Madrid.

 

Benfica were lucky to win the Cup in 62, in fact they were lucky to beat Spurs in the semi final.

Link to post
Share on other sites

lol they're having a laugh! Back in the 60s and the 70s the level of football was wayyyy lower. So basically all these examples of teams are dumb. Of the latest years, taking exactly the two english teams.... LOL (Liverpool 2005 wasn't great and neither was Man Utd 1999).

 

I still think the best of the Champions League was the Ajax 1994-1996 era.

 

Obviously too young to have seen Kryuff's Ajax play live.  That team was so far ahead of the opposition in respect of ability, technique, tactics and performance I'd rate them better than Real Madrid.

 

Benfica were lucky to win the Cup in 62, in fact they were lucky to beat Spurs in the semi final.

 

You're showing your age, Jol! :wink:

Link to post
Share on other sites

Guest GHoeberX

lol they're having a laugh! Back in the 60s and the 70s the level of football was wayyyy lower. So basically all these examples of teams are dumb. Of the latest years, taking exactly the two english teams.... LOL (Liverpool 2005 wasn't great and neither was Man Utd 1999).

 

I still think the best of the Champions League was the Ajax 1994-1996 era.

 

Obviously too young to have seen Kryuff's Ajax play live.  That team was so far ahead of the opposition in respect of ability, technique, tactics and performance I'd rate them better than Real Madrid.

 

Benfica were lucky to win the Cup in 62, in fact they were lucky to beat Spurs in the semi final.

 

I wasn't there in 1972, that's one thing which is certain. But I've seen enough old footage to know the tactics (totaalvoetbal LOL) were shit; the offside-traps were hilarious; the ball-pace (baltempo bedoel ik dus) was very low and the average skills of players was also below average. Sure Di Stefano, Puskas, Cruijff and Pelé would still be big names nowadays, but they wouldn't be so clearly better than the rest... Football has professionalized and a blind man can see that the level of football has been becoming only better and better. I'm not saying it's getting more entertaining... no, maybe it's even getting less entertaining; but the tactics & skills have become MUCH MUCH MUCH  better than 30 years ago.

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

More than 50 years ago, four French journalists were sitting around and commenting on the outlandish claims made by the English press that Wolverhampton Wanderers were the "Champions of Europe" simply because the Wolves had beaten up on a couple of touring teams from the Soviet Union and Hungary.

 

Instead of simply yelling about the absurd British claims, Around the Horn-style L'Equipe's editor, Gabriel Hanot, and its publisher, Jacques Goddet, writer and radio reporter Jacques de Ryswick and another writer, Jacques Ferran, organized the first-ever European soccer competition. Today, their brainchild, the Champions League, has become the most popular sporting event in the world with a global audience of over one billion viewers. In honor of its four founding fathers, we give you the finest four finals, players and teams in the tournament's 50-year history.

Finals

 

Their Brainchild? No, their brainchild was a way of deciding who the best team in Europe was. The Champions League as it has become is the brainchild of the accountants. It exists only as a cartel to ensure the rich stay rich and the rest (eg: us) have no chance of ever catching up. They say romance is dead - Well here's the culprit. Worst thing that ever happened to top-flight football.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...