Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Euro Vision.............

So as we start to get closer  and closer to the finals of both the Champions & Europa Leagues, here at 4-4-2 we thought we'd take a look at some of the great European nights that some of our British teams have enjoyed. We have had our fair share of victories in Finals over the years and just imagine how much more we could have dominated if it weren't for the exile imposed by the Heysel Stadium Disaster, but that's all in the past now and we're certainly making up for lost time. I've picked out a selection, whether they be historic of just fantastic games or both sometimes! Anyway here goes....

Chelsea - Cup Winners Cup 1997/98 - Beat Stuttgart 1-0
Obviously we could have chosen Chelsea's Cup Winners Cup Final triumph of '71 when they beat Real Madrid after a replay which was their first ever European Honour and it was during that campaign that they recorded the highest ever aggregate score of 21-0 over a team of minnows from Luxembourg. But I'm going for this one, as by winning it they became the last British team to do so, as the competition was disbanded in 1999.It also came as the tide was turning at Stamford Bridge, the previous season they had won the FA Cup and were to follow that up with as well as this trophy the League & Super Cup the year after, they had started to attract the foreign stars we're now used to seeing everyday and it was one of those stars Gianluca Vialli who himself had been brought in by another megastar Rudd Gullitt, that lead the team both on and off the pitch that evening. But it was another Italian and crowd favourite Gianfranco Zola who came off the bench to score the only goal of the game to ensure victory. Maybe Roman Abramovich was watching, as only five years later he bought the club for £140 million pounds!

 Liverpool - Champions League 2005 - Beat AC Milan 3-2 on Penalties AET
For Liverpool we could take our pick from any number of European victories, when it came to a campaign against the best that the continent had to offer the Anfield outfit created the blueprint. Five European Cups/Champions League, three Uefa Cups & three Super Cups and they also did this while for the majority of the seventies & eighties dominating domestically too. This victory against Milan was one of the greatest comebacks in a final, the years were rolled back as from three nil down at half time the reds, with the help of Captain Steve Gerrard fought back to bring the tie level on the night. But it wasn't all about Stevie G, Jerzy Dudek performed heroics in the Liverpool goal during normal time and revived Bruce Grobbelaar's "Spaghetti Legs" from '84 for the penalty shoot out which he won by saving (again) from Shevchenko, there were also a couple of old skool Liverpool Super Subs with the appearances of both Vladimir Smicer & Didi Hamann who scored and shackled Kaka respectively.

Tottenham Hotspur - Cup Winners Cup - 1963 - Beat Atlético Madrid 5-1
Tottenham Hotspur became the first  British team to lift a European trophy in 1963, four years before Celtic would win the European Cup. Spurs were up against the holders and without the influential Scot Dave Mackay. Atletico Madrid seemed to want to stamp their authority - quite literally at times, onto the game but Tottenham with their control and movement managed to pass their way through the Spanish side early on and took a two goal lead by half time. Although Atletico pulled one back from the spot just after the break, the experience of Danny Blanchflower at the back helped to see off the vast amounts of pressure that the North London club came under in a five minute spell that followed. In the end the third goal - an impressive lob of the 'keeper from Terry Dyson finally broke the Spaniard's resistance and once again Spurs were on the ascent. Further goals, making it two apiece for Greaves & Dyson made it five one and victory was sealed. Although there were less matches in the competition back then, Spurs had still managed to score an impressive twenty four goals including the five in the final and in the same season they also finished runners up in the First Division.
 Manchester United - European Cup 1968 - Beat Benfica 4-1
Following on from the Munich Air Crash, Matt Busby had gradually started to rebuild the Manchester United side that many feared would never be seen again. He had been seriously injured in the disaster and after fighting back to health had decided that Manchester United as a club would not only survive also, but flourish. Bobby Charlton - who scored that night, along with Bill Foulkes were there, both in Munich and playing in the final. Although there could never be another team of Busby Babes, the young talent at Old Trafford had come through again and Brian Kidd aged only nineteen along George Best who was to be named European Footballer of the Year, scored against the Portuguese who boasted the great Eusebio amongst their ranks. The game was played at Wembley Stadium and watched by a crowd of 100,000, there were also an estimated 250 million television viewers worldwide watching and they saw Manchester United crowned the first English team to win the European Cup.

Celtic - European Cup 1967 - Beat Inter Milan 2-1
The Lisbon Lions as they were to be nicknamed, became the first British team to win the European Cup when they beat Inter Milan in Lisbon (so that's how they came up with it!) a whole year before Manchester United. The ultra defensive Inter side had taken a one nil lead thanks to a penalty and then proceeded to shut up shop. Celtic were having none of it though, the team  - who had all been born within thirty miles of Parkhead had won every competition they had entered that year and the European Cup was to be the pinnacle. Legendary Celtic manager Jock Stein had even told his opposition number how the Scottish team were going to win the final and become the first team to do so from Britain "We are going to attack as we have never attacked before" he also stated that cups are not won by individuals but by teams playing for each other and that was what he had. Their fluid football pre-empted the Dutch side Ajax who had originated  "Total Football" by four years and Stein said after the victory - bought about by second half goals from Tommy Gemmell and Stevie Chalmers "We did it by playing football. Pure, beautiful, inventive football."

Well, that's yer lot! Five of the best? Maybe, you think otherwise........as always feel free to leave us a comment and let's hope there's a few more memorable European nights coming up that we can be blogging about soon!

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