The Kaiser of German Football roamed and glided over the football pitches of the world for nearly two decades. There were arguably six defining games of his career. I give you, Franz Beckenbauer, the deep-lying commander who defined a generation.
Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid met Guardiola’s Barcelona at the Bernabeu on the evening of the 10th of December 2011. Mourinho’s men went into the game with a 3 point advantage and were desperate to add to their solitary victory over their arch-rivals in Mourinho’s tenure.
Pressing, Gegenpressing, total football â€¦ those are all terms usually associated with the Dutch national team from 1974 or, recently, with Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona and Bayern Munich. But, during history, there have been other divisive figures who contributed to modern football. Valeriy Lobanovskyi has long gone underappreciated but he put his mark on the sport, and his USSR team gave a strong contribution to the game.
With the sad passing of one of football’s greatest yesterday, I decided to visit footballia and analyse his European Cup win with aÂ great Barcelona side featuring numerous stars such as Guardiola, Laudrup and Koeman – all of whom would progress onto a coaching career. Their opposition was a talentedÂ Sampdoria side who, despite struggling domestically, found themselves in the final and challenged Cruyff’s side well with a squad containing Roberto Mancini and Gianluca Vialli.
The 1998 World Cup final went down as one of the greatest days in French history as they won their first World CupÂ over a Brazil side containing legends such as Rivaldo, Cafu, Roberto Carlos and an (famously unwell) Ronaldo. The French team had their own players of similar statureÂ too with the likes of Marcel Desailly, Lilian Thuram and eventual man-of-the-match Zinadine Zidane.
In the early 1990s, the Italian national team were in a distinct crisis. To solve the tactical issues, the Federazione drew on the secret weapon of domestic Italian football: Arrigo Sacchi.
In Marti Perarnauâ€™s excellent book â€˜Pep Confidentialâ€™, the manager himself states he had two favourite performances from his time in the Catalonian city of Barcelona â€“ A 2010 win against Arsenal and their victory over Neymarâ€™s Santos in the Club World Cup match of 2011.
A final played between two historicÂ clubs in theÂ Ernst-Happel-Stadion (named after the great innovator and coach) in Vienna, Austria. Both Louis Van Gaal and Fabio Capello were young coaches 20 years (!) ago at the time of this final. Neither team had any trouble reaching the final, as Ajax beat Hajduk Split 3-0 and Bayern Munich 5-2 – and AC Milan beat Benifica 2-0 and PSG 3-0 to reach Europe’s biggest stage. Though both teams were dominant on their road to the final, neither team played well enough to create more than a few chances – which resulted in the only goal coming in the 85th minute.
“The Special One” met his former mentor from their days in Barcelona on Europe’s biggest stage. Inter Milan had just come off of a legendary performance against Guardiola’s FC Barcelona, winning 3-2 on aggregateÂ with only 10 men on the pitch. Van Gaal’s Bayern defeated Lyon 4-0 in the other semi-final (and got to that point by defeating both Fiorentina and Manchester United 4-4 on away goals).
The all English final. All of Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, and United were actually in this seasonâ€™s Champions League quarter-final â€“ an impressive showing for English football. Manchester United were able to narrowly beat a struggling Barcelona with Ronaldinho on his way out, and Chelsea were able to defeat Liverpool in extra time to reach this final. It was a great game which was dictated by Manchester Unitedâ€™s quick possession and combination play.