Argentina Metropolitano

Campeonato Metropolitano – the first championship of Argentina – proceeded in the somewhat standard league format. Primera A consisted of its usual 20 teams, but the number had to be reduced in the next season to 19. The top division was subdivided into two groups of ten clubs each. The last two teams were to play relegation tournament and the top two – to compete for the title. Boca Juniors was perhaps viewed as favourite – not only because of tradition, but because they were the best South American team in the last two years. But they were not the outstanding leaders – the championship was competitive and the only clear thing were the outsiders. In Group A River Plate clinched victory with 24 points. The second place went to Maradona-lead Argentinos Juniors, but this did not mean they proceeded to the semi-finals: they were second only thanks to their larger number of scored goals. Apart from that, the record of Argentinos Juniors and Velez Sarsfield was exactly the same, including goal-difference. Play-off was played to decide who goes to the ½ finals – Velez Sarsfield destroyed Argentinos Juniors 4-0. The battle for the top places was tough: 5 clubs ended with almost equal points – the difference between 1st and 5th place was 2 points. It was different at the bottom: the last two clubs combined record did not even match 8th placed Huracan’s 16 points. Gimnasia y Esgrima (La Plata) was 9th with 8 points and Platense was last with 6 points. Both teams went to the relegation tournament.

Group B was not so tough, although the race was also close. At the end of table were two hopeless outsiders. Chacarita Juniors took the last place with 9 points. Atlanta was 9th, also with 9 points, but better goal-difference. Atlanta distinguished themselves as the only club not winning even a match in the championship: the lost 9 games and tied also 9. They also had the worst scoring record – 10 goals. The outsiders did not troubled anybody in the subgroup – the 8th placed team finished with 15 points.

All Boys (Buenos Aires) – 8th in Group B of Primera A. Perhaps other clubs would have been disappointed, but the modest club this position meant safety: they kept a place among the best.

It was not so for other teams: San Lorenzo, one of the ‘Big 5’ of Argentine football, finished 7th.

San Lorenzo finished behind a club, which was at least supposed to finish lower:

Ferro Carril Oeste finished 6th – nothing much in the grand scheme, but not bad after all, for the club did not have many famous players: Oscar Garre was the one star Rodrigues Neto, Brazilian national team defender, was the other. To a point, it was curious to see him playing for a smallish Argentine club – after all, he was part of the Brazilian 1978 World Cup squad. Garre and Rodrigues Neto were enough for finishing above San Lorenzo, but nothing else.

Boca Juniors failed too – they finished 4th with 20 points. Estudiantes were 3rd with 22 points. Well, only two clubs going ahead… tough competition. Independiente finished 2nd with 24 points and Rosario Central topped Group B with 26.

Independiente rebuilding and remaining strong: Goyen, Olguin, Clausen, Trossero, Zimerman, Killer and crouching Alzamendi, Guisti, Brailowsky, Bochini, Percudani.

Ambitious Rosario Central – winners of Group B.

The second phase of Campeonato Metropolitano involved 8 teams. The relegation tournament was vital for survival – only the winner was avoiding relegation. But even the weakest teams in the preliminary groups were not equally weak… Atlanta won just a single match in the round-robin mini-league and finished last. Chacarita Juniors won 2 matches and lost 4 – they ended 3rd with 4 points. Much better was Gimnasia y Esgrima – 3 wins, 1 tie, and 2 losses. However, they were unable to beat Platense and finished second with 7 points.

Standing, from left: Varise, Papandrea, Guyón, Rego, Grimoldi, Gianetti.

First row: Morelli, Picerni, Pesoa, Gilé, Miguel Ángel Juárez.

Not a famous squad surely, but still head and shoulders above the the other three participants of Torneo Reducido del Metropolitano. 5 wins and 1 tie – Platense finished 4 points ahead of Gimnasia y Esgrima and escaped relegation. The rest went down.

Meantime the ½ finals of the championship went ahead: River Plate won both legs against Independiente.

The new Independiente still had a long way to go – so far, they were only able to reach ½ finals.

The other pair was produced more dramatic clash: a single goal decided the winner. Velez Sarsfield managed a goalless tie in Rosario and won 1-0 at home. Unfortunate result for Rosario Central.

Thus, Buenos Aires clubs clashed for the title: River Plate vs Velez Sarsfield. The final was like the semi-finals – two legs. River Plate won both.

Standing, from left: José Jorge González, Omar Jorge, Falcioni, Orlando Ruiz, Malaquín, Quinteros. First row: José Castro, Roldán, Ischia, Julio César Jiménez, Larraquy.

The squad perhaps reveals why Velez lost – not a single 1978 World champion here. Only Roldan was a star – decent team, but nothing exceptional. Even their curious number of coaches – three: Antonio Cielinski, Juan Carlos Montaño, Alfredo Bermúdez – did not make a difference. Reaching the final was their maximum – in the final matches Velez scored only goal. And received 7! River Plate was supreme.

Metropolitano champions standing from left: Passarella, Merlo, Saporiti, Pavoni, Héctor López, Fillol. Crouching: Pedro González, Juan J. López, Luque, Alonso, Commisso.

More than familiar names here, hardly in need of introduction. The 17th title was won with confidence: River Plate lost only 3 matches during the campaign, but all in first phase. They won every match of the ½ – finals and the final. And this was not all.


Argentina II Division


Argentina had her strange double championship, as ever making it difficult to figure out the real strength of the clubs. Changes confused the matter further – the first division was to be reduced for the next season, so only one club from Primera B got promotion. But the promoted teams were two… the second one came from the second championship, differently organized from the standard divisional one . The second promotion seemingly was to be given to the best club not already a member of first division. The clear part belonged to the structure of Campeonato Metropolitano. Primera C – or 3rd Division – was won by Deportivo Espanol, hailing from Flores, Buenos Aires.

Standing, from left:Leandro Pérez, José L. Pérez, Bernárdez, Angeletti, Barral, Catalano.

First row: Estigarribia, Rivero, Balbuena, Luis Moreno, Arbelo.

Little can be said about the third-level winners – the most important news was they were going up to Primera B.

The 18-team Primera B belonged to this structure and there were no tricks: all teams played against each other twice, the standard European formula. The last was relegated – Flandria was 18th this year. Although many of the 2nd division members played among the best, most faded away long time ago and sounded exotic outside Argentina – clubs like Temperlay.

They finished right in the middle of the league – 9th. Banfield was perhaps the name readily considered as a favourite, but they were not – they finished 3rd, thanks to better goal-difference, but were not in the promotional race at all. Only two clubs competed for promotion – Deportivo Italiano and Tigre. Deportivo Italiano scored much more goals than Tigre, but finished with a point less.

To many outsiders Tigre sounded like new, suddenly rising club, but they were not new at all – the club was founded in 1902 under original name Juventud del Tigre, representing the city of Tigre. By the end of the 1970s the club’s name was what left of original geography – the city was Victoria for years, itself part of Greater Buenos Aires. Tigre’s stadium itself was perhaps bigger than it should have been, if one thinks the original setting: Victoria had about 40 000 population – the stadium had place for over 25 000. It makes sense only when one sees the club in terms of Buenos Aires – supporters were perhaps everywhere and visiting teams brought their own crowds. All in one city. Apart form that, Tigre had nothing to brag about: they played a few times in first division. Usually Tigre did not last long among the best – their most recent inglorious appearance was in 1968. Ten years later they were to try again.

Standing, from left: Eduardo Sánchez, Lemme, Pellegata, Giustozzi, Pistone, Ros.

Crouching: Aimetta, Roberto R. Carrizo, Pasini, Bello Meza, Ianuzzi.

Naturally, a second division team had no stars, but the boys fought bravely this year. They lost only 2 matches. Won 18, tied 14, scored 49 goals, but allowed the least goals in the league – 26. They did not lose a match at home – the only other club without a home loss was Villa Dalmine (5th). At the end, Tigre finished with 50 points – one more than Deprotivo Italiano. They clinched the championship and got the single promotion. Well done.


Copa Libertadores

Of course, Olimpia won Copa Libertadores before winning the Intercintinental Cup. The formula of Copa Libertadores was part of the problems of the Intercontinental Cup – the tournament kicked in March and ended in July. There was no other way, however, considering the South American championships. Boca Juniors – reigning holder of the Cup – got a bye and proceeded directly to the semi-final stage. All others played the preliminary groups – 5 of them, 4 teams of two countries in each. Some easier than others: Group 4 was perhaps the easiest, for there Venezuelan teams played against Chilean representatives. The toughest was Group 3, opposing Peruvian to Brazilian teams. Only the winners went to the semi-final stage. Independiente (Avellaneda) won Group 1. The other Argentine representative – Quilmes, also from Avellaneda, ended last. Something expected… Quilmes were just happy to play in the tournament, the Colombian teams – Deportivo Cali and Millonarios – were not at the general Argentine level. In Group 2 Paraguayan teams were favourites – Bolivia did not count much. But the difference was no all that big and a single point was the difference between losers and winners – Bolivar (La Paz) ended with great scoring record, but with 9 points. Olimpia (Asuncion) won 5 of their 6 matches and lost one – to this very Bolivar in La Paz. Yet, 10 points were better than 9 and Olimpia went ahead. Group 3 was the most interesting group and also most surprising: Brazilian teams were naturally favoured over the Peruvians, and Palmeiras was the big name here. Alianza (Lima) was the likelier stronger Peruvian club… historically. Alianza was unable to get even a point, losing all their games and scoring only 5 goals. Palmeiras finished 3rd… The battle was between Universitario (Lima) and Guarani (Campinas) – the Brazilian team prevailed. No contest in |Group 3 – the Venezuelan teams did not win a single match. It was Chilean battle of sorts – O’Higgins (Rancagua) was not really at the level of Palestino (Santiago), which won the group without losing a match and receiving only 2 goals in their net. In the Group 5, the Uruguayan teams were considered stronger and they were – the two Ecuadorian clubs achieved a combined record of 7 points: the same as Nacional (Montevideo). Which finished 2nd , 3 points behind their arch-rivals Penarol. Like Palestino, Penarol did not lose any match and received only 2 goals.

The winners of the five groups, plus Boca Juniors, went to the semi-finals – two round-robin groups of three teams each. Group 1 looked tougher – as far as names go. Boca Juniors, Independiente, Penarol… Uruguayan football was not great in the 1970s, so Penarol was out of the race. Since goal-difference did not count in South America, there was no group winner – the Argentine teams finished with 5 points each. A play-off was staged in Buenos Aires – regular time ended scoreless amd only in the extra time Boca won, thanks to their star Mastrangelo.

In the other semi-final group no such drama happened – Olimpia (Asuncion) was way above the rest. Guarani (Campinal) and Universitario (Lima) did not won a single match. In contrast, Olimpia did not lose any – they finished with 3 wins and 1 tie. Four points ahead of Guarani and the battle was actually finished before the last match between the two clubs in Campinas: by the time, Olimpia had 6 points and Guarani – 2. The last match did not matter at all – Guarani blew their chances four days earlier, when they were unable to beat Universitario at home.

Thus, Boca Juniors and Olimpia reached the final. It was seemingly easy to predict final: Boca Juniors won the last two Copa Libertadores tournaments, Argentina was the reigning football world champion, and since 1966 Argentine clubs did not win Copa Libertadores only twice – in 1971 and 1976. For Boca Juniors it was 4th consecutive final and it looked like they were building a dynasty, following in the steps of Independiente (Avellaneda). Olimpia was the underdog by far… once they played at the final, and lost it. It happened in ancient time… in the very first Copa Libertadores, in 1960. Paraguayan football did not make much news anyway, but although the newest football sensation was Paraguayan, he was not playing for Olimpia. Still, a final is a final… anything was possible, especially in South America. Olimpia hosted the first leg of the final and won 2-0 – both goals were scored early in the match.

Aquino surprised Boca in the 2nd minute – 1-0.

2-0 in the 27th minute – Piazza doubled the lead. Perhaps Boca did not take the opposition too seriously… but if that was the case, they paid dearly. Paraguayan players were never famous, but they were historically very tough. The result stayed unchanged.


1st leg. Defensores del Chaco, Asunción, 22- 7-1979


Olimpia – Boca Juniors 2-0

2′ Aquino 1-0

27′ Piazza 2-0


Olimpia: Almeida, Paredes, Jiménez, Solalinde, Kiese, Piazza, Isasi, L. Torres,

Villalba, Talavera, Aquino.

Boca Juniors: Gatti, Pernía, Capurro, Mouzo, Bordón, J.J. Benítez (Palacios),

Suñé, Salinas, Mastrángelo, Salguero, J.R. Rocha.


Referee: Castro (Chile)

Attendance: 50,000

Five days later Boca hosted the second leg. They tried to win, they failed…

The match ended 0-0 and Olimpia triumphed at legendary La Bombonera.

2nd leg. Estadio La Bombonera, Buenos Aires, 27- 7-1979


Boca Juniors – Olimpia 0-0


Boca Juniors: Gatti, Pernía, Sá, Capurro, Bordón, J.J. Benítez, Suñé,

Zanabria (Salguero), Mastrángelo, Salinas, J.R. Rocha (Palacios).

Olimpia: Almeida, Solalinde, Paredes, Jiménez, Piazza, L. Torres (Guasch), Kiese,

Talavera, Isasi, Villalba, Aquino (Delgado).


Referee: Cardellino (Uruguay)

Attendance: 65,000

Fans rushed on the pitch to celebrate with their heroes – Piazza in the middle.

Then the Cup was presented to the new winners.

Hugo Talavera proudly shows it the crowd – it was great moment. Not only Olimpia won for the first time and on hostile stadium; not only they were the first Paraguayan winners – they were the first club outside the big trio of Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay to win Libertadores Cup. It was the first international trophy for Paraguayan football since 1953. Fantastic moment.

Boca Juniors played their third consecutive final and lost it.

Standing from left: Mouzo, Sune, Zanabria, Pernia, Santos, Bordon.

Crouching: Mastrangelo, Salguero, Benitez, Perotti, Suarez.

This is not the team which lost to Olimpia – it is rather an illustration of the small shortcomings of Boca. Strong team, to be sure, but hardly one to build a dynasty. Strong players, long squad – Gatti, Squeo, Sa, Capurro, Palacios, Salinas , Rocha, the list was long. Experienced stars, but.. hardly top rate. There was something missing – a bit more class, a bit more talent, a bit more will. Boca Juniors won twice, but failed at the third attempt. Yet, they stayed as leading Argentine team and one of the strongest in South America at the time. Only they were not extraordinary.

Fantastic year for Olimpia – their first, but not last international success. Starting as underdog,

the Paraguayans conquered Copa Libertadores in style: they lost only one match during the whole campaign: the away match against Bolivar (Bolivia) in the first round. It was small loss – 1-2. At the final Olimpia did not even allow Boca to score a goal, keeping a clean sheet. It was historic victory in every aspect, even the small one of using sponsor’s add on their shirts – they were first in that.

Crouching, from left: Isasi, L. Torres, Villalba, Talavera, Aquino.

Standing: Solalinde, Paredes, Kiese, Gimenez, Almeyad, Piazza.

Anonymous team… no wonder nobody paid attention to them. But it was not a team of lucky nobodies – it was well made team, combining experience with young talent. Paraguayan players were never famous, but one has to keep in mind that most players of this team were members of the national team – and they were yet to add another victory this year. It was more than just promising bunch – some of this team would play and define the national team of Paraguay for years. Plenty of talent, which Luis Cubilla utilized in great way. Carlos Kiese (b. 1957), Osvaldo Aquino (b. 1952), Rogelio Delgado (b. 1959), Evaristo Isasi (b. 1955), Alicio Solalinde (b. 1952), Roberto Paredes, Luis Torres, Ruben ‘Toto’ Gimenez, and the missing on the photo Jorge Guasch (b. 1961) – young and bright, most of them already members of the national team, and they all played for it long. Hugo Talavera (b. 1949), the veteran, providing class and authority, also was a national team regular. One and a half foreigners completed the team with their solid experience: both were Uruguyan born. The defender Miguel Angel Piazza (b. 1952) was not famous, but was well respected player, who already had played for serious clubs (Penarol and the Argentine San Lorenzo and Newell’s Old Boys). The goalkeeper Ever Hugo Almeyda (b. 1948) was a different story – he started his career in Uruguay back in the 1960s, but joined Olimpia in 1973 and played for the club until 1991! In 1975 he took Paraguayan citizenship and was included in the national team – he played 22 games for Paraguay. Already old, experienced, solid keeper. And he was not the only player loyal to Olimpia – most of this team played long years for the club. They became instant legends and remained so for the club, but most of them had big role in Paraguayan football of the 1970s and 1980s too. A great team. And Cubilla – also remarkably loyal to Olimpia – saw their potential, trusted them, and shaped them into internationally successful squad. Young coach and young squad – what could be better: thanks to this year Olimpia joined the ranks of the best South American clubs – and stayed there.

Intercontinental Cup

Nottingham Forest was the best in Europe, but not the best in the world. It did not matter… the Intercontinental Cup was dying for a long time. Too many problems piled up – back in the 1960s the European interest was higher, but back then Latin football dominated Europe. Spanish and Italian clubs were motivated to meet South American teams: there was cultural similarity and familiarity, there was a chance of discovering and eventually getting top South American players, may be even money to be made. But South Americans took the challenge too seriously and compromised the game, making a war instead of sport. They played increasingly dirty football, using any means of intimidation on and off the pitch. Southern Europeans coped with that, in part because they were not above such tricks, but by the end of the decade Northern European teams topped Southern Europeans and they did not like the mean spirit of the contest. Other things changed too – money were more important than pride. Northern Europe as a whole was not very familiar with South American football and did not care much. With smaller crowds attending, the financial side of it loomed as a big problem. Travel was difficult and expensive. There was no profit, only costs. The atmosphere surrounding the games in South America was vile, escalating to death threats. The risk of losing key players was too great. And the Intercontinental Cup was never all that important to the Europeans. Objective problems with scheduling the games existed from the birth of the cup, getting with time huge – climate itself worked against the challenge meant to be the pinnacle of football: the European summer was practically out of question. In Europe, it was either vacation or early days of preparing new teams for the next season. Not ready to play yet, not even shaped. Fans were on vacation as well and the interest was next to nothing. In South America it was winter – the time of a break as well. Only once in the whole existence of the tournament a match was played in August – the first leg in 1970. European winter was not an option either: it was almost impossible for the South Americans to adjust to the harsh European winter. European fans were reluctant to brave the weather too. Going to scorching South American summer was a problem for the European teams as well – coming from snow and temperatures bellow zero. Spring and fall were the best time for both sides, but at that time domestic and continental championships were in full force and it was very difficult to find suitable time, especially for the European clubs – rescheduling of regular games to play intercontinental match faced many objections. It was a problem similar to scheduling the European Supercup – moving the challenge to some free date increasingly made it so distant from the time the participants actually won the trophies giving them the right to compete, that it looked rather irrelevant – the teams were no longer the same, not they were in their original form. The importance was lost – at the time of the meeting there were current worries much bigger than a game seemingly belonging to the past. And since nobody could force clubs to participate, the Europeans chose to decline participation. Beginning with Aiax in 1971. During the 1970s only twice European Champions Cup holders played for the Intercontinental Cup – Ajax in 1972 and Bayern in 1976. Losing finalists played in 1971, 1972, 1974, and 1977, which further eroded the challenge – it was not between the best clubs of the continents. In 1975 and 1978 there was no contest at all. Nottingham Forest declined to play in 1979 too… Malmo FF accepted, but it was especially poor contest: not only the European representative was a small club, but the South American champion was almost unknown in Europe. Olimpia (Asuncion) vs Malmo FF triggered no interest in Europe whatsoever. The schedule did not help either… the opening leg in Sweden was played November 1979. The second leg – in March 1980. No wonder this issue of the Intercontinental Cup left almost no trace and today brief records are riddled with mistakes. Hardly anything can be said about the challenge – only dry records.

1st. leg:


November 18, 1979.


Malmö (Sweden) 0-1 Olimpia (Paraguay)


Goal: Isasi.


Malmö FF: Moeller – R. Andersson, Johnsson, Erlandsson, Prytz, Hansson,

Ljungberg, Malmberg, Arvidsson, Sjöberg, Kinvall.


Olimpia: Almeida – Paredes, Piazza, Souza, Solalinde, Kiese, Delgado, Torres,

Ortiz, Céspedes, Isasi.

Speedy winger Evaristo Isasi scored the only goal in the 41st minute. The Paraguayans won and perhaps were more confident for the second leg. Hard to be sure, though – there were still months until the second match was to be played. And in these months there were changes… the Swedish championship ended, there was a winter break between seasons and transfer period. Players left, new ones arrived – two foreigners in particular: a curious Danish veteran – John Hansen, born in 1949 – who played in South Africa, Australia, and Helsingborg (Sweden) before joining MalmoFF, and very young English defender – Tim Parkin, b. 1957 – who arrived from Blackburn Rovers, where he was deep reserve with almost no playing experience. The newcomers were virtually unknown and, judging by their careers so far, hardly great additions, but they were certain mystery for the Paraguayans – perhaps scary mystery. As for form, it was impossible to judge, but almost certainly Malmo FF was not at their best – the Swedish championship was just about to begin.

But Olimpia was equally a mystery to the Swedes: were they to be the same team which played in November? Stronger, weaker, who knew? More or less, the second leg was a meeting between equals… Isasi broke away in wonderful counter-attack and Swedish defender had no option, but to foul him in the penalty area. Alicio Solalinde scored from the penalty – 1-0 in the 40th minute. Almost mirroring the opening match in Malmo… but Erlandsson eqaulized three minutes from the start of the second half. Eventually, Michelagnoli scored a second goal for Olimpia in the 71st minute – and that was the final result: 2-1.

Asunción. Field: Defensores del Chaco.

March 2, 1980.


Olimpia (Paraguay) 2-1 Malmö FF (Sweden)


Goals: Solalinde, Michelagnoli / Erlandsson.


Olimpia: Almeida – Solalinde, Paredes, Sosa, Di Bartolomeo, Torres, Kiese,

Talavera (Michelagnoli), Isasi, Valik, Aquino.

Coach: Luis Cubilla.


Malmö FF: Moeller – R. Andersson, Parkins, Johnsson, Vidsson, M. Andersson,

Olsson (Hansen), Prytz, Erlandsson, Sjöberg (Malmberg), T. Andersson.

Olimpia won both matches and the Intercontinental Cup was theirs.

The Intercontinental final left almost no evidence of itself – the photo above is more or less everything one can find today. Is it the moment of triumph after the last whistle of the referee or was it the moment after Solalinde scored the opening goal? It is him with number 2, but who is his teammate? Paredes and Aquino were both bearded… This is not the only mystery of the finals: the records above are the existing ones in the site of the international football statisticians – reputable source. Yet, there are mistaken names – Souza in the first match and Sosa in the second must be the same player… or not? Vidsson and Parkins listed in the Malmo FF’s second leg team… Parkin is misspelled. There was no Vidsson in the Swedish squad of that time – most likely Arvidsson’s name is misspelled. And there is huge doubt about Olimpia’s player listed as Valik. Yaluk may be? Who can tell for sure… the current site of Olimpia pays no attention to their great triumph in 1979-80. Even the players of the squad do not exist. The official site of Malmo FF is equally blank. This final is certainly the most obscure one.

Alicio Solalinde remains as a hero – most likely because of his goal in the second leg, but he was one of the best players of Olimpia anyway. Existing information is next to nothing, but one thing remains:

Olimpia conquered the world. Luis Torres lost his shirt, but got the Intercontinental Cup firmly in his hands.

Obscurity is one thing, but something else cannot be denied: for both clubs it was the highest achievement ever.

Third row, from left: Robert Prytz, Claes Malmberg, Tommy Hansson, Ingemar Erlandsson, Tore Cervin, Thomas Sjöberg, Aage Hansen, Magnus Andersson

Middle row: Björn Nilsson, Mats Arvidsson, Kent Jönsson, Tim Parkin, Sanny Åslund, Anders Olsson, Jan-Olov Kinnvall

Sitting: John Hansen, Roland Andersson, Egon Jönsson (Lagledare), Bob Houghton (Manager), Keith Blunt (coach), Roy Andersson, Jan Möller.

Yes, this is the 1980 version of Malmo FF, but also the one playing the last match counting for 1979 – their best season ever. It was the crown achievement of Bob Houghton, who not only made this team, but kept if for years on top in Sweden, and making it competitive in Europe. For any bog club, losing two finals counts for nothing – but for a modest club it was incredible. European Champions Cup final, Intercontinental Cup final – few ever reached such heights. Yes, Malmo lost both finals, but by very small margin. They were equal opponents both times.

The Paraguayans were on top of the world – and the world, although without much interest, finally heard of them.

Of course, the biggest hype was at home – champions of the world! Counted for 1980 – the confusion with schedule rightly made them champions of the world for 1980, but still it counts for 1979. Which was their greatest year – winning Copa Libertadores for the first time, followed by winning the Intercontinental Cup. And it was not only club’s success – Paraguay won Copa America in 1979 as well and Olimpia was heavily represented in the national team. Clearly, these players were at their best form.

All the reasons to be proud are in their hands. It was the greatest season the club – they played at the final of the very first Copa Libertadores in 1962 and lost. They also the first club outside the big three South American football nations – Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay – to win the trophy. They defended South America in the intercontinental clash, icreasing the supremacy of their continent over European clubs. And may be because of the victories in 1979-80 Olimpia became stronger club – may be even among the top in the continent, for they were yet to win Copa Libertadores again. And there was even more: their coach.

Luis Cubilla – pictured here with Copa Libertadores, but never mind: the Intercontinental Cup was coming into his hands too. The great star of the 1960 of not Uruguayan, but of the whole South American football immediately proved to be talented coach. A born winner – his trophies were not only too many and won in two continents, but he even managed to finish his playing career with a victory. He stepped down as champion of Uruguay in 1976. In 1978 he was hired to coach Olimpia – he was 38 and without previous coaching experience… and he propelled Olimpia to the top of the world in two years. There was some irony in it – it was Cubilla who prevented Olimpia from winning the 1962 Copa Libertadores: his Penarol won with difficulty the opening leg in Montevideo 1-0. In Asuncion Olimpia scored in the 28th minute – it was equal opportunity until he scored in the 83rd minute and gave the aggragate victory to Penarol. Now he was winning with the club he defeated once upon a time. Luis Cubilla somehow was never talked about as a coach – perhaps because he never coached in Europe. He is unfairly ignored, for he was very successful coach. Especially coaching Olimpia – he returned to the club three more times and… died as their coach in 2010, at 72 years of age. It could be said that Cubilla and Olimpia were made for each other. It could be said that he transformed the club for good. The facts are simple – Cubilla made Olimpia world class champions.

This was the last gasp of the Intercontinental Cup…


European Supercup

The European Supercup continued to be without fixed place in the calendar – the challenge depended on agreement between the participants and difficult to fit in their schedules. Thus, the 1979 issue was played in 1980. The first leg in Nottingham at January 30,1980 and the second leg – Ferbruary 5 in Barcelona. By that time the opponents were different teams than the ones winning the European Champions Cup and the Cup Winners Cup back in the spring of 1979. Barcelona was a ‘new team’, whatever that meant. In reality, there was one big change – Neeskens was gone and Allan Simonsen added. Forest was more similar to its previous team – in philosophy. Two new players were added – both of the kind preferred by Brian Clough: aging, faded, mercurial stars. Charlie George and Stan Bowles. Both yesterday’s news and not very desirable by now, thanks to their records of erratic, unpredictable performance and general conduct. Other managers stayed away from them, but not Clough. Nottingham was in good form, so was Barcelona – both teams in mid-season, at their seasonal peak. Which meant a duel of two not very attractive teams as far as playing style was concerned. A battle between two tactically minded teams was not to be a great show – and it was not. It is hardly remembered clash… little evidence remained from it. At home, Forest scored and early goal and won 1-0. Charlie George scored in the 9th minute – once again the suspect veterans of Clough delivered. In the second leg Barcelona scored from a penalty in the 25th minute – Roberto converted. In the 42nd minute Kenny Burns equalized – again, one of the Clough’s favourite ‘goners’ raised to the occasion. Nothing more happened to the end of the match. Nottingham won the Supercup.

1st Leg, City Ground, Nottingham, 30 Jan 1980


Nottingham Forest (1) 1 FC Barcelona (0) 0

9′ 1-0 N: George



2nd Leg, Nou Camp, Barcelona, 5 Feb 1980


FC Barcelona (1) 1 Nottingham Forest (1) 1

25′ 1-0 B: Roberto (pen)

42′ 1-1 N: Burns

Nottingham Forest won 2-1 on aggregate.

Barcelona’s ‘new look’… may be, but nothing new. Simonsen and Krankl were supposed to do more than just ‘looking new’ – the team continued to play as they did before: tough, unattractive football. Not a great team… wins were problematic, if coming at all.

Nottingham Forest on the other hand was building rapidly quite a trophy room. Barcelona was the latest victim of tough, winning at any cost football – but who cares? Certainly not the fans in Nottingham.

Back row, left to right: Ian Bowyer, David Needham, Trevor Francis, Kenny Burns, Martin O’Neill, Peter Shilton, Larry Lloyd, Charlie George, John O’Hare.

Front row: Frank Gray, John Robertson, Garry Birtles, Viv Anderson, Stan Bowles.

Impressive collection of names… who hardly won anything in their best days with another clubs. But under Clough they rapidly made up for the past: Shilton and Francis won nothing with their former clubs; Lloyd did, but the big international success of Liverpool happened without him; Charlie George and Stan Bowles – limited success in the past; O’Hare – one time English champion with Derby County and Clough. Now it was handful of trophies in just two years – and seemingly there was no end to that. 1-0 meant a new trophy, simple as that. These guys were masters of minimal victories and to hell with memory – nobody remembers their matches with Barcelona, but the Supercup was in their hands – and that stays in memory: the best in Europe.

European Champions Cup

The European Champions Cup started with a nasty surprise: the draw paired both English representatives in the first round. Too early and too disappointing to many fans of English football hoping for a final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. Reigning European cup holders and ambitious upstart. Like some previous seasons, the appearance of two clubs of the same country upset the smooth order of the rounds – the participants were 33 and preliminary match had to be played – Monaco and Steaua Bucharest were the unlucky pair, and Monaco eliminated the Romanian champions. This was small comfort for the French champions – they played with Malmo FF in the 1/16 finals and lost. But it was still normal – a few battles between fairly equal teams happened every year. The big thing was the early clash between Brian Clough and Bob Paisley. Nottingham won – 2-0 in the first leg and 0-0 away at Liverpool. Cup holders eliminated in the first round was rare event. The other big draw was Juventus – Glasgow Rangers. Juventus perhaps was considered a favourite, but the Scots overcome them after losing 0-1 in Torino. At home, they won 2-0 and Juventus was gone. Two more surprises, but on smaller scale – AEK Athens thrashed FC Porto 6-1 in the first leg and the Portuguese champions were practically eliminated. Yet, they fought hard in the second leg – but 4-1 victory was not enough. Wisla Krakow was also the underdog – FC Brugge was expected to win. And they did – at home: 2-1. It Krakow Wisla won 3-1 and proceeded to the 1/8 finals. One last memorable moment, but it was exotic one: there was no doubt which team will go ahead – Real Madrid vs Progres Niedercorn (Luxembourg) was not a contest. In the second leg, played in Luxembourg, the host’s goalkeeper was injured in the 12th minute and had to be replaced. The reserve keeper refused to play – he simply left the bench and went to the dressing room. Thus, the coach Romain Schoder, a man over 40 years of age, undressed and came on the pitch. Real scored him 6 goals – to a total of 7-0 victory – but the old guy played surprisingly well.

The draw for the 1/8 finals favoured the big clubs, but there were two big surprises – Dinamo Kiev was eliminated. Modest Malmo FF managed a scoreless tie in the first match, played for some reason not in Kiev, but in Kharkov, and at home won 2-0. Yet, it was nothing compared to the other upset – Real Madrid was sure winner against Grasshoppers (Zurich). 3-1 in Madrid confirmed expectations, nothing to worry about. But in Zurich the hosts scored twice and Real was scoreless. The away goal in Madrid propelled the Swiss to the ¼ finals. Glasgow Rangers once again had the most difficult draw – against PSV Eindhoven. It looked like the Scots were goners after the first leg – 0-0 in Glasgow. But they won 3-2 in Eindhoven and moved ahead.

Grasshoppers had no more luck – they played against Nottingham Forest in the ¼ finals. The visit in Nottingham ended 1-4. At home it was 1-1 and Forest went to the semi-finals. Once again Glasgow Rangers had no break – this time they faced 1. FC Koln. Tough duel – the Germans won 1-0 at home, but managed a 1-1 tie in Glasgow. Pity… Rangers had the toughest opponents in every round. Austria (Vienna) continued their good run – they had it easy so far, playing against the Albanian champion Vllaznia at first and the champions of Norway – Lillestrom – in the second. In the third round they had stronger, but manageable foe – Dynamo (Dresden). A clash of equals – Austria won. So did Malmo FF against Wisla (Krakow).

And once again the draw upset fairness – Nottingham Forest and 1. FC Koln were the strongest of the last four clubs, but they were paired together. The outcome was unpredictable. Austria vs Malmo FF was also a clash of relatively equal teams, but Austria was the likelier winner – the Austrians were going up for sometime. But it was Malmo FF again – after a scoreless tie in Vienna, they won 1-0 at home. Meantime, big drama – in Nottingham the match ended 3-3. The Germans had quite an advantage for the second leg – 3 away goals. It was very unlikely they could lose a home match and any other result benefited them. But they lost – Nottingham pulled themselves together and extracted 1-0 away victory. The debutant of the tournament went all the way to the final.

Nottingham Forest vs Malmo FF – it looked like no contest… yet, who knows. Yet, the difference between the two teams was too big – Nottingham was the big favourite and since a Swedish club hardly had a style difficult for an English one, it was expected to be the typical English final: fast, relentless attacks, a match played largely in the Swedish half of the pitch, and many goals in Malmo’s net. Forest had Trevor Francis after all. However, the final was dismal, one of the most disappointing finals ever played. Forest did not play like an English team at all – instead of fast paced attacking football, the Brits were slow, careful, and defensive-minded. They played like Italian team… which was no show. Malmo FF were not comfortable with largely tactical opponent and in any case they were not able to raise above themselves – a nice, but limited team. Still, Forest had great difficulties beating them – methodical and careful game was getting frustrating, for the Brits needed to score – otherwise who knows… coming to penalty shoot-out was a big risk. Luckily, Trevor Francis scored – in the very last minute of the first half.

Trevor Francis’ crucial header – 1-0 just before half time.

The static moment tells a story very different from the actual game: it is dynamic, suggesting exactly the typical English football – fast attack, cross, a header, one of many moments created by a dominant team. Five players of Nottingham leaving four defenders hopelessly behind. A cross so dangerous, the poor goalie unable even to react in time. That was what was imagined this final to be… but it was not. Nothing happened in the second half and Nottingham were largely lucky to score this goal – a winning one, to be sure, and thanks God they scored: it would be way too much this torture to continue for another half an hour.

Nottingham Forest (1) 1 Malmo FF (0) 0

45′ 1-0 N: Francis


Nottingham Forest (trainer Clough)

Shilton; Anderson, Lloyd, Burns, Clark; Francis, McGovern, Bowyer,

Robertson; Woodcock, Birtles

Malmo FF (trainer Houghton)

Moller; R.Andersson, Jonsson, M.Andersson, Erlandsson; Tapper (Malmberg),

Ljungberg, Prytz, Kinnvall; Hansson (T.Andersson), Cervin

Referee: Linemayr (Austria)

A moment of triumph – captain McGovern just received the European Champions Cup.

Trevor Francis happy with the cup – nobody deserved it better this day. Thanks to him Forest triumphed. Thanks to him, the boring final ended at least in the regular time. Thanks for winning, thanks for saving viewers from another 30 minutes of horror.

One cannot blame Malmo FF – the best Swedish club was small potato on European scale and deserves admiration for reaching the final. They tried to win it too and too bad they did not – the underdog always gets sympathy. Also, Malmo FF had amazing longivity – it was a team built around 1970 and stayed strong for almost 10 years. Stafan Tapper played for Sweden at the 1974 World Cup, others – at 1978 World Cup. Tapper, Moller, Erlandsson, Cervin, Roy and Roland Andersson were seemingly ever present. Reaching the final of the top European tournament was the crown achievement of this team and their coach Bob Hougthon.

Nottingham was another story – coming from nowhere, they not only won the English championship, but the Champions Cup as well. No other novice to the tournament ever won it – a big bang. Looking back at the campaign, the victory was well deserved – Forest eliminated the reigning cup holders Liverpool and overcome the West German champions 1. FC Koln. When it mattered, they prevailed.

Of course, they were heroes at home and celebrated ‘superb achievement’ – but they also left bitter taste. Yes, they continued the international dominance of English club football. Yes, it was great to see a debutant going all the way to triumph. Yes, they were good squad. But they also were a sign of something depressing: an ugly, tactical football, aimed only at winning by outfoxing, not outplaying, the opponent. Liverpool were exciting, Leeds United was exciting, in general, all English clubs before Forest were adored by fans of the game, for they played attractive, fast, attacking, open football. Forest were slow, watchful, careful, defensive. They waited for a chancy opening, for a mistake of the opponent, for a counter-attack. They were satisfied with a single goal. They were not entertaining – like the Italians. The fact this kind of football was victorious was scary – the joyous total football was seemingly abandoned and transformed into ugly tactical battle. And that was the way football was going. Unfortunately, the future of the game did not look good.

Still, Nottingham Forest deserves a credit – Brian Clough built a strong team, he found the winning way. It was an improving squad. It was also a strange squad…

The genius of Brian Clough was not only in that he won with two different clubs titles, but in his whole approach to shaping a team. He brought to Nottingham some players he worked with before in Derby County. He selected players seen to be over the hill – with reputations, but not exactly big stars. Tough professionals – Larry Lloyd, John O’Hare, John McGovern, Asa Hartford, John Robertson, Archie Gemmill, Martin O’Neil, Frank Grey. It was a line he continued, but it was not his only line. He also introduce young, unheard of yet, talent – Viv Anderson, Garry Birtles, Ian Bowyer, Tony Woodcock. And yet he started making huge transfers, buying greatest current stars – Peter Shilton at first, then Trevor Francis. Suddenly, Forest was not just a team of fighters and players getting a second chance, but formidable squad – with enough depth, so big names can be also unloaded without fear: Archie Gemmill was long gone – to lowly Birmingham City – by the time Forest won their European cup. Asa Hartford was not a starter and his days were numbered too. The team was rather strange mix, but it worked. And Clough continued to shape it in the same way – Stan Bowles was added for the next season, another faded star other clubs shied away of. Meantime Anderson, Birtles, and Woodcock became leading English players. A different kind of magic, but magic nevertheless – Clough apparently was well aware of the qualities of his squad, so he used them in a way unheard of in English football. Their tactical football was surprising for the opponents and thus winning. Tough defense, looking for opportunity, lethal counter-attack, one goal – enough. Painful to watch, but great in its own way kind of football. Nottingham Forest did not look at all like one-time wonder – they were here to stay.


Cup Winners Cup

Cup Winners Cup – the easiest to predict tournament. Anderlecht, Barcelona, Inter Milano, may be Ipswich Town. May be Fortuna Dusseldorf. A very short list of favourites and the draw was good for them. Anderlecht, the current holders of the cup, had a bye in the first round. No surprises at all – only Fortuna had difficulties against Universitatea Craiova – they won 4-3 away, but the home match ended 1-1. Close call, but the West Germans advanced. The second round had two tough pairs: Fortuna vs Aberdeen was the one, but the other was really bad luck – Barcelona vs Anderlecht. Both teams were potential winners of the tournament, a final between them was fair, but mere 1/8 final? It cane to penalty shoot-out: Amderlecht won 3-0 in Brussels, then Barcelona won 3-0 at home, extra time did not change anything and the drama of the shoot-out benefited Barcelona – 4:1. Meantime Fortuna won 3-0 at home and lost 0-2 in Aberdeen – again, they advanced. The only real surprise happened in the ¼ finals – Inter vs Beveren. The Belgians were clear outsiders, good as they were this season. The first match in Milano ended 0-0 – not a worry sign, for everybody was used to minimal and devious Ialian performance. 1-1 was the likeliest result in Belgium… instead it was 1-0 Beveren and Inter was out. Barcelona once again had the toughest draw – against Ipswich Town. They lost 1-2 away, but won 1-0 at home and advanced thanks to their away goal. Fortuna had great difficulties – Servette was the outsider, but they managed a 0-0 tie in Dusseldorf. In Geneva nobody won too, but at least goals were scored – 1-1. The away goal propelled Fortuna to the semi-finals. In the last pair Banik Ostrava eliminated 1.FC Magdeburg. And before the ½ finals Barcelona and Fortuna were seen as finalists – the draw played no tricks. Barcelona won both legs against Beveren, however minimally – 1-0 in each match. Fortuna again had difficulties – they won 3-1 in Dusseldorf, bot lost the second match in Ostrava. Luckilt, only 1-2. Once again, a single goal qualified them. Neither finalist played overwhelming football so far, but Fortuna was the underdog. Barcelona was superior as a squad, or so it appeared. The final in Basel, Switzerland, was attended by much more Barcelona supporters, than Germans – another advantage. It was dramatic final – and even more so today, when one looks at dry statistics. But names and numbers mislead.

Friendliness ended with the initial greetings between captains Asensi and Zewe. Once the match started, there were no smiles – Fortuna went into attacks, pressuring Barca everywhere in the pitch. The Spaniard looked uninspired in attack, losing the ball quickly, and forced into at moments desperate defending. To the last whistle nothing changed… Fortuna was dominant. Barcelona played the usual dirty Spanish football. But the shortcomings of Fortuna quickly became obvious too – they dominated, but lacked quality, especially in creating real danger in front of the Spanish net. Experience no-nonsense defenders did not shy away from ant trick in the book – they fouled mercilessly the Germans, they simply cleared the ball as far away as possible, simulated on occasion, and when a German was down in pain never stopped the match by kicking the ball outside, so the injured player to get medical help. Barcelona did not look good at all, but Fortuna was a bit naïve – it became very clear that Barcelona hopes only on counter-attacks and they could be lethal, yet, Fortuna did not change their approach. They kept attacking, kept possessing the ball, kept high tempo… as a result, Barca got their chances when there were almost no German players in their own half. In the 5th minute Sanchez finished a counter-attack with a goal – 1-0 Barca. Fortuna equalized quickly – in the 8th minute.

Klaus Allofs kicks the ball into the Spanish net – 1-1.

Then Barca got a penalty – and missed it! Rexach kicked a ball, which was not a problem at all for the German keeper Daniel. Fortuna continued their relentless attacks – and again a counter-attack gave the lead to Barca.

Asensi scored the second goal in the 34th minute. One should learn… counter-attacks were the only weapon the Spaniards had and Fortuna was willingly helping them, by constantly going full force ahead. Barcelona was not much as a team, but left one on one, the Spaniards were superior – they had the skills and were cool enough to use any opportunity. Fortuna did not change their approach – and, frankly, the team was bellow such sophistication. They only knew to run, to press, to fight for the ball, and to attack… it paid off to a point: Seel equalized 4 minutes before half-time. A big handicap of Barcelona was revealed: their goalkeeper Artola was big liability. He was guilty for both German goals and it was clear what to do: shoots towards his net. And keep alert striker nearby – Artola was shaky, he was not able to clear the ball well. Keep him under pressure… but Fortuna did not. The Germans had the ball and attacked, but very rarely managed to strike the ball towards the net. Barcelona’s defense, well aware of the weaknesses of their goalie kept clearing the ball away, but really the Germans helped them – they never tried a long distance shoots for instance. Half-time came, the result was 2-2, promising more goals in the second-half. Which ended scoreless… Fortuna attacked, Barcelona defended… and it was the same to the very end of extra-time. Only now Barcelona used German naivete fully, scoring two more goals from counter-attacks. Krankl scored the third goal in the 104th minute. Seven minutes later Rexach scored the 4th – 4-2 with only 9 minutes left. Both extra-time goals were organized by Neeskens – who was entirely invisible otherwise. But he was quick when really mattered, the real touch of a grand master. Fortuna continued their attacks and again scored – Seel, in 114th minute. Nothing changed after that. Barcelona won.

Final, St. Jakob Stadium, Basle, 16 May 1979, att 58000


FC Barcelona (2) 4 Fortuna Dusseldorf (2) 3 aet

5′ 1-0 Bar: Sanchez

8′ 1-1 For: Th.Allofs

34′ 2-1 Bar: Asensi

41′ 2-2 For: Seel

104′ 3-2 Bar: Krankl

111′ 4-2 Bar: Rexach

114′ 4-3 For: Seel


FC Barcelona

Artola; Zuviria, Migueli, Costas (Martinez), Albaladejo (De la Cruz);

Sanchez, Neeskens, Asensi; Rexach, Krankl, Carrasco

Fortuna Dusseldorf

Daniel; Baltes, Zewe, Zimmermann (Lund), Brei (Weikl); Köhnen, Schmitz,

Bommer; Th.Allofs, K.Allofs, Seel

Both teams posed with the cup, but Barcelona got it.

Asensi kept it for more than fleeting polite photo.

Brave Fortuna. Strong season for them – winning the West German cup and playing the Cup Winners Cup final. And nothing to be ashamed of at the final – coming as underdogs, they dominated the match. They were more entertaining and, to many, they should have won. Unfortunately, Fortuna was no great team – they depended largely on 4 players, three of them strikers. The rest were middle of the road professionals. Naively attacking 120 minutes was there undoing – foxy Spaniards used the predictable and repetitive German tactics to their advantage, punishing every mistake.

Of course, Barcelona was not just disinterested finalists, satisfied with lucky win. It was very important moment for Barca, the club and the team wanted the cup badly, they were highly motivated and tough. As far as final result counts for everything, they got what they came for. Nobody can blame them for winning.

And here they are: standing, from left: Artola, Albaladejo, Neeskens, Costas, Zuviria, Migueli.

First row: Rexach, Sanchez, Krankl, Asensi, Carrasco.

A lot was at stake for this team: so far Bracelona had three European trophies, but they were Fairs Cups, won in the days when the tournament was young, limited to clubs from cities organizing fairs. 1966 was the last year Barcelona won international trophy – and the Fairs Cup was somewhat insignificant version of the UEFA Cup. Twice Barcelona lost finals – the Fairs Cup final in 1962 and the Cup Winners Cup final in 1969. That was the year Barcelona reached final for the last time. The arch-enemy Real had 5 European Champions Cups to their credit – it was painful to compare victories… Other things were painful too: no Spanish club reached European cup final since 1971, when Real lost the Cup Winners Cup to Chelsea. No Spanish club won this very tournament since 1962. With great Cruyff, Barcelona won a single Spanish title and nothing in Europe. Victory was very important, indeed. At last, coming ahead of Real Madrid – Barcelona was the only Spanish club with European trophy in the 1970s (so far). A difficult and unconvincing victory of not so great team, but victory. It was not a memorable squad… goalkeeping problems were nothing new and Artola’s mistakes were costly. Neeskens was a shadow of himself by now. Krankl needed somewhat more creative midfielders than Asensi and Rexach. Carrasco and Sanchez were great in counter-attacks, but not very effective when they had to attack and create opportunities. Migieli was getting old and he was never outstanding star. But, by hook or crook, they won… Migueli, Rexach, and Asensi were the pillars this day. The rest of the team was not very noticeable, but delivered at crucial moments – Neeskens provided two passes leading to goals, Krankl scored the only opportunity he had. Victory at last! And as a bit of trivia, Neeskens won one European trophy more than Cruyff.


The UEFA Cup. West German and English clubs were seen as favourites plus Spanish Valencia with Mario Kempes and Rainer Bonhof. Until the 1/8 finals nothing sensational happened – strong team were eliminated only when paired with equals. Thus, Athletic Bilbao was eliminated by Ajax, Twente by Manchester City, and Torino by Sporting Gijon in the the first round. In the 1/16 finals Standard Liege lost to Manchester City, Hajduk Split to Arsenal and Benfica – to Borussia Moenchengladbach. The only surprise was the elimination of Everton by Dukla Prague. In the third round Milan lost to Manchester City in a battle of equals, but other results were surprising: VfB Stuttgart lost to Dukla Prague after initial 4-1 victory. But Dukla won 4-0 in Prague and went ahead. Ajax was beaten 1-4 by Honved in Budapest and there was no recovery – they won 2-0 at home, but lost by a goal. Arsenal was eliminated by Crvena zvezda – the first match in Belgrade ended well for the Gunners: they lost 0-1 and nobody expected difficulties in the second leg. But Crvena zvezda played tough: 1-1 tie eliminated Arsenal. The biggest surprise was the elimination of Valencia – true, so far they were shaky as visitors, depending entirely on home matches, and the opponent was one of the rising English clubs – West Bromwich Albion – but Valencia was seen as the favourite. WBA tied their away match – 1-1 and won the home game 1-0. Three of the big favourites were gone in this round: Valencia, Arsenal, and Milan. The draw continued to play jokes in the next round too – Manchester City faced Borussia Moenchengladbach and Crvena zvezda – West Bromwich Albion. Borussia comfortably eliminated Manchester City – 1-1 away and 3-0 home victory. Crvena zvezda repeated their clash with Arsenal – 1-0 home victory and 1-1 tie away.

The ½ finalists were interesting group – the supremacy of West German football was confirm: so far, only one – VfB Stuttgart – was eliminated. Three of the last four team in the tournament were West German. Crvena zvezda – bravely beating the odds so far, for they eliminated three strong opponents – Sporting Gijon, Arsenal, and West Bromwich Albion – was the forth semi-finalist. Strangely, the three West German teams had weak season at home. Hertha and MSV Duisburg were trying to avoid relegation at the time of the ½ finals. This was seen as a prime example of the supremacy of West German football – even their lowest teams were way stronger than the clubs of the rest of Europe. One of the finalists was to be West German. Very likely the final would be all German – and it came very close to that. Borussia managed to tie the first match against MSV Duisburg – 2-2 and the second leg was at home. Relatively speaking, for Borussia almost never played international matches at their small stadium in Moenchengladbach. Home match, even when played in another city, is still home match… Borussia won 4-1. Hertha and Crvena zvezda were similar so far – both scored little and depended heavily on away ties, but if Crvena zvezda had tough draws and had to play with strong opponents, Hertha had it easy – Trakia (Plovdiv, Bulgaria) in the first round, then Dinamo (Tbilisi), followed by Esbjerg fB (Denmark), and Dukla (Prague) at the ¼ finals. Hertha were simply lucky so far, but… they were Germans. Crvena zvezda was hosting the first match – for a third time in row and for a third time they won 1-0. And for a third time they were expected to lose in the second leg and eliminated, and for a third time they tied ‘the surely lost’ match 1-1. Alas, no… in West Berlin Hetha won. 2-1. Crvena zvezda went ahead thanks to their away goal.

The final opposed one of the greatest clubs of the 1970s to strong and traditionally respected Yugoslavians. Crvena zvezda was no joke – they eliminated Spanish, two English, and West German teams. There was no favourite at the final. Perhaps Borussia was favoured a bit more than Crvena zvezda – but hardly in the Borussia camp. Fate continued to play its joke – once again the first leg was in Belgrade. In front of 87 000 frenetic fans, predominantly supporting the home team, Crvena zvezda continued to repeat earlier games: they opened the result in the 21st minute. And did not allow Borussia to score equalizer… but the match ended 1-1. Jurisic scored in his own net in the 60th minute.

Final 1st Leg, Red Star Stadium, Belgrade, 9 May 1979, att 87000


Red Star (Belgrade) (1) 1 Borussia M’gladbach (0) 1

21′ 1-0 R: Sestic

60′ 1-1 B: Jurisic (OG)


Red Star (Belgrade)

Stojanovic; Jovanovic, Miletovic, Jurisic, Jovin; Muslin (Krmpotic),

Petrovic, Blagojevic, Milosavljevic (Milovanovic); Savic, Sestic

Borussia M’gladbach

Kneib; Vogts, Hannes, Schäffer, Ringels; Schäfer, Kulik, Nielsen (Danner),

Wohlers (Gores); Simonsen, Lienen

Nothing was decided yet – two weeks later the foes met again, this time in Dusseldorf and in front of half the crowd attending the first leg. Home advantage was hardly an issue, not only because Borussia played away – huge number of Yugoslavians were working in West Germany and visiting Yugoslavian teams always had massive support. It was to be great battle.

Captains Vladimir Petrovic and Berti Vogts shaking hands before the match – two great players eager to win. But it was not easy… Borussia took early lead – Simonsen scored from a penalty in the 15th minute.

The call was bit dubious – especially to Yugoslav eyes – but there was plenty of time. In which nobody scored again. Crvena zvezda lost the final.

Final 2nd Leg, Rheinstadion, Dusseldorf, 23 May 1979, att 45000


Borussia M’gladbach (1) 1 Red Star (Belgrade) (0) 0

15′ 1-0 B: Simonsen (pen)


Borussia M’gladbach

Kneib; Vogts, Hannes, Schäffer, Ringels; Schäfer, Kulik (Köppel), Gores,

Wohlers; Simonsen, Lienen

Red Star (Belgrade)

Stojanovic; Jovanovic, Miletovic, Jurisic, Jovin; Muslin, Petrovic,

Blagojevic, Milovanovic (Sestic); Savic, Milosavljevic

Berti Vogts, sporting Crvena zvezda shirt, collected the UEFA Cup. More tired than happy, but winner to the end of his playing days.

The losing finalists became legends instantly.

Crvena zvezda had a strong team, which reached European cup final for the first time in the club’s history. Strong campaign and, from some perspective, they were unbeaten – Borussia really did not score: Jurisic scored own goal in Belgrade and Simonsen scored from suspicious penalty. Almost winners… winners in folklore… legends are made of such stuff. But something is undeniable – internationally, this vintage was the most successful.

The main heroes – legends, without too many stars: Vladimir Petrovic, the only remaining player of the excellent squad of the first half of the 1970s, was the big name. Savic and may be Sestic were coming close to the great players of the previous vintage. The rest were not at the same level – but it was a good team and success may them club legends.

If Crvena zvezda was at its prime, Borussia was another story.

Berti Vogts and company with yet another trophy was one of the most familiar pictures of the time. But it was a swan song this year.

On paper, everything looked great – Borussia won their second UEFA Cup. The names were familiar and dangerous – Lattek at the helm, Heynckes learning the trade as assistant coach,Vogts, Koppel, Kleff, Danner – as alaways, Simonsen – European player of the year, Del’Haye at his prime, strong younger players – Kulik, Klinkhammer, the next Danish talent – Tycosen… Strong, but not as strong as the team of only few years back. One after another, the stars left – either retired or to play in Spain. The clock was ticking dangerously for the last great veterans… Alan Simonsen followed the path of Netzer, Jensen, Stielike, Bonhof right after the end of the season and went to Barcelona. There was nobody of the similar class among the next generation – Del’Haye, as good as he was, was not at all a great star and the others were reliable professionals, but no more. Decline was already taking place, inevitable decline – it was the end of one of the teams defining and revolutionizing football in the decade. They had one more spurt of greatness, but really 1978-79 was year Borussia stepped down – in great style, as winners, fortunately. This was their last international triumph – long decline laid ahead.


West Germany the Cup

The change of guard in West Germany was completed with the new cup winners – the previous great generation won nothing this year, its time ended. Fortuna (Dusseldorf) and Hertha (West Berlin) reached the final. Bayern and Borussia (Moenchengladbach) did not reach even the semi-finals. The final in Hannover opposed one of the strongest German clubs of recent years to ambitious project. Which misfired… Hertha had miserable season and there fore was very determined to save the year by winning the cup. And they looked like possible winners on paper.

From left to right: Erich Beer, Diefenbach, Milewski, Grau, Krämer, Sziedat, Rasmussen, Weiner, Sidka, Nigbur, Kliemann.

Unlike other Greman clubs, Hertha seemingly decided to join the best not with talented youngsters, but with well established players. So, the current vintage was defined by Beer, Sidka, Kliemann, and already famous from Schalke 04 national team goalkeeper Nigbur. Experience worked to satisfaction in the previous season, but the key players were getting older and a bit over the hill. Cup tournament was another matter, of course – a single match was suitable for such a team. Players, never winning anything did not need motivation – it was their great chance.

But opposition was equally ambitious and in better shape – Fortuna was still rising, still not at its peak as a team. The clash was strong and nobody prevailed – regular time ended scoreless. A single goal was finally scored in extra-time – in the 116th minute. Aging center-forward scored the golden goal , but it was not Erich Beer – it was his double Wolfgang Seel. Both competed – and not very successfully – for regular position in the national team after Gerd Muller announced his retirement from team West Germany. Both were similar as players too. Both needed a trophy. Seel scored and got it – with Fortuna.

Great victory for Fortuna – first cup and their second trophy ever. Had to wait decades for this one – in 1933 they were champions of Germany and nothing after that. But they played – and lost – the Cup final in 1978. One year later, they won.

Fortuna were one of the better German teams for quite some time, but they were different from the others – it was a team without big stars. Good players, but not even second-rate stars – players like Hainer Baltes, who were respected professionals and no more. Baltes was in the 1972 Olympic team of West Germany – his highest achievement. Even Zewe and Seel, who played for the Bundesteam did not measure up to the great German players of the time. Solid proffessionals – that was Fortuna, good enough to be among the top clubs, but not to win. Yet, team was improving and this very vintage had not only Zewe, Seer, and Baltes, but two very bright strikers – Thomas and Klaus Allofs, the next generation of great players. As a whole, the squad was made of players born after 1952 – precisely the ‘next’ generation, coming to dominate the game. No big surprise they won – it was their time. Fortuna was unusual winner in another aspect: it was entirely German squad (Hertha used two Danes at the final – Ole Rasmussen and Henrik Agerbeck). For years it was very unusual a team to be made only of Germans – especially winning teams. True, Fortuna had a foreign player – the Danish striker Flemming Lund – but with lethal domestic attackers like Seel and the Allofs brothers, Lund rarely played. Anyhow, it was entirely German squad winning the cup. Wonderful victory of a club really fighting the odds and getting better. Their best period was not over yet, the team was just reaching its peak.


West Germany Bundesliga

Bundesliga – the best in Europe again. Fast, competitive, football, high scores, dramatic race for the title. Three matches ended 7-1 and two of them were won by the visiting team! The championship to watch, the championship to play in. But the most important about this season was the change of guard: the next generation asserted itself. It was their year – clubs, based on the next generation soared. They will define German football for the next 5-6 years. The decline of great clubs of the 1970s started a bit earlier, now it was more pronounced. Of course, not everybody was happy…

SV Darmstadt 98 finished dead last. They tried as much as they could, but 21 points was their best.

Third row, from left: Meier, Kalb, Korlatzki, Lindemann, Weiss, Westenberger, Bechtold

Middle row: Trainer Buchmann, Bremer, Drexler, Cestonaro, Hahn, Kleppinger, Frey, Co-Trainer Schlappner

Sitting: Eigl, Weber, Seyffer, Rudolf, Metz, Schabacker, masseur.

Nothing surprising – if there were outsiders, Darmstadt qualified. Weak squad, even heroics would not help – and didn’t.

1. FC Nurnberg finished 17th – and that was no surprise either: usually Nurnberg was considered prime candidate for relegation. Perhaps the only thing to say about them is that the they had the weakest strikers in the league, scoring only 36 goals. In some countries 36 goals scored the champions – in West Germany such record was a disgrace.

And still no surprise – 16th and completing the relegation group was another expected loser: Arminia (Bielefeld).

Like Nurnberg, too strong for second division, but too weak for top flight, Arminia was in and out Bundesliga. When among the best, they were prime always seen as mots likely candidate for relegation. So, nothing new – going down, together with Nurnberg.

Much more interesting was the group just above the unfortunates: MSV Duisburg, 13th with 30 points, was not big surprise – they had their good years in the mid-1970s, but somehow failed to upgrade the team and naturally faced decline. Hertha finished 14th with 29 points and that was big and somewhat unexpected fall: the West Berliners had good previous seasons and looked like building really strong squad. They looked ambitious and were expected to be among the leaders. Instead, they finished dangerously close to relegation zone.

The sense was that Hertha was unable to find the right mixture – good coach, good players, but the chemistry did not work. It was not a decline – it was inability to stay strong.

15th was Schalke 04. Now, here was real decline.

It was detected shortly after 1972 – partly, the bribing scandal was to blame. Incredibly talented and promising team was halted by penalties. They never recovered and with time decline began. By 1978 Schalke 04 had still few big names – Russmann, Fischer, Abramczik – but they were getting older and no better. Perhaps leadership was an issue too – the team was shaky and although they had some better years, the direction was downhill. Instead of fighting for the title, Schalke 04 was fighting for survival – 28 points were good for that, but it was also only 2 points better record than Arminia’s. The future did not look bright.

The future did not look bright for mightier than Schalke 04 club either – Borussia Moenchengladbach finished 10th. Not only that, but with negative goal-difference. The first tremor of coming disaster. Borussia was in difficult position – as a team, they reached their peak around 1975, but most players were still young. So far, the exit of stars – either retiring or going to play in Spain – did not affect the club: the squad was big and talented enough, so reserves successfully filled the empty spots. However, money were always short and the exodus continued. The team was losing its spark, it was clear by now that Simonsen was for sale, Vogts was approaching retirement, and Hannes was not going to play for the national team. The future was Hannes, though…

A greeting looking like farewell. Great Borussia Moenchengladbach was becoming mid-table club. Like the typical example of such clubs: VfL Bochum.

Brave little club… in a bad year they struggled to escape relegation, in a good year they were in mid-table. 1978-79 was good one – VfL Bochum ended 8th with 33 points. One more than Borussia Moenchengladbach – a team without stars finishing above a club still conquering Europe is a strong testimony of great, competitive league and healthy football. But Bochum was not improving and there was no way for them to improve – it was Borussia declining.

In the upper part of the table five clubs were fairly equal: Fortuna (Dusseldorf) finished 7th, continuing their strong years.

Fortuna was curious club – they were rising for some time without big stars in the squad. But now they had three – Zewe and the Allofs brothers. Thomas and Klaus were of the generation stepping in – the new crop of stars, already coming into maturity. 7th place was not bad at all – especially because there was something much better this season.

1.FC Koln and Eintracht (Frankfurt) maintained their leading positions – 6th and 5th – but it was inertia. Eintracht failed to become the third German super-team a few years back and now they were clearly beyond their peak – but having a strong squad helped them to stay among the strongest German teams. Real decline did not happen yet, inertia did – and the only question was for how long. As for 1.FC Koln, good as they were, they were more or less accidental champions the previous season.

Rinus Michels was gone, Hennes Weisweiler was back, but the team was pretty much the same – no great additions to the squad, which was a bit short to begin with. Koln was not in the race for the title at all – 6th place was more or less their rightful spot.

Bayern finished 4th – a questionable place. On one hand, it looked like recovery after two disastrous seasons. On the other – no recovery at all, just the veterans outfoxed most of the opposition. Maier, Muller, Schwarzenbeck… still half of the regulars were painfully familiar names. Too old for anything else, but retirement. Paul Breitner came back – looked like desperate move. Yet, it was the true beginning of the next vintage – based on Breitner and Kalle Rummenigge. Early phase, first steps, only returning to the group of top teams.

Bronze medals were won by the most unpredictable club – 1. FC Kaiserslautern.

Successful season, but Kaiserslautern hardly deserves to be placed under microscope – they were neither rising, nor declining: they were simply true to their tradition of unpredictability – equally able to challenge the best and to be relegated with the same players. One season on top, down to second division the next. Yes, they had a bunch of good players. Yes, they earned their 3rd place. Yes, they were going to play in the European tournaments. But they did not compete for the title. And nobody knew what how they were going to play the next year.

The duel for the title went between two rising teams, representing in earnest the new generation ruling German football. It was fascinating battle between a club rising for some time and one, which was more than mediocre in the first half of the 1970s. One point was at the end the difference between champions and unlucky silver medalists. It was also just difference in a sense.

VfB Stuttgart finished second – unlucky, or not ready yet? Unready… they were second in everything: second in the number of wins, second scorers, second in defense… and second in coming to the grand stage. Second division was still painfully remembered by fans and players – it was not long ago, some of the team experienced it. Perhaps second division was a blessing for Stuttgart – they had insignificant presence in the Bundesliga in the 1960s. Going down perhaps helped them to start building a strong team of youngsters – it was clear that what they had before was good for nothing. So, now Stuttgart had a few solid veterans, playing in every line – the Yugoslav defender Dragan Holcer (b. 1945), the Austrian midfielder Roland Hattenberger (b. 1948), and the former Hamburger SV striker Georg Volkert (b. 1945) – but the strength was the group of young stars: Hansi Muller (b. 1957), Dieter Hoeness (b. 1953), Bernd Forster (b. 1956), and Karlheinz Forster (b. 1958). They were pulling the strings, not the veterans. Add the goalkeeper Helmut Roleder (b. 1953) and Herman Ohlicher (b. 1949). Stuttgart had great core of players nearing their best age. The veterans was clearly in secondary position, so the future was secured – it was a matter of adding few more youngsters, some fine tuning. The team for the future, not ready yet to dominate German football. It was a team to stay among the best, though. And they did.

Hamburger SV prevailed this season – 21 wins, 7 ties, 5 losses, 78:32 goal-difference,49 points. One more than VfB Stuttgart. Difficult victory, but well deserved.

HSV was already a veteran of Bundesliga – one of the original members, not missing a single season. Always considered among the best German clubs, HSV was also odd – never in danger of relegation, but somewhat underperforming. The 1960s ended not only without a title, but on minor note – HSV was seemingly in decline and unable to build really strong team. Things started to change by mid-70s – they finished 4th in 1974-75, 2nd in 1975-76, 6th in 1976-77. They also won the German cup – their only trophy since Bundesliga was formed. It was a positive sign, a club on the rise, but still not ready. The cup was won by a relative old team of well-respected, yet, secondary players. Younger players gradually replaced veterans like Georg Volkert (playing for VfB Stuttgart this season). HSV grabbed the headlines when they bought Kevin Keegan, the best player in Europe. They were clearly detemined to go all the way to the top – but not in the first season with Keegan among them. It was a flop – 9th place in 1977-78 – but it was viewed as only temporary misfortune. The team was ready and 1978-79 was their first great year. Mature team, fighting to the end, and winning – Hamburger SV won their first Bundesliga title. And it was not to be an accidental victory – by now, HSV was complete with younger players of the next generation, the new stars to shine and dominate the coming years. This was a team to stay on top and define German football for awhile, no doubt about it. The long expected third great German team finally arrived. As for ‘the Dinosaur’, as HSV is nicknamed, for they were founded in 1887, it was their 5th title – but their first since 1960, so it was great to restore their place among the top German clubs at last. The long wait was over. They were hungry for more… so far: German Cup in 1976, European Cup Winners Cup in 1977, German title in 1979, not bad, just wetting their appetite.

The triumph came with a new coach – perhaps the missing link so far. The Yugoslav Branko Zebec arrived with great reputation from excellent stint with Eintracht (Braunschweig). He had the players needed for the task and spurred them to action. By now, few of those playing for HSV in 1974-75 remained – Nogly, Reimann, Memering, Eigl. Kargus and Kaltz were also in the team back then, but now they were not just young hopefuls, but stars in their prime, pulling the strings. Kevin Keegan needs no introduction – different country, different language, different football needed adjustment, but after one year in Germany, he was settled, comfortable, and in great form.

Having still unknown outside West Germany Horst Hrubesch in the team most likely helped Keegan – big, burly, English type center-forward, great in the air, no doubt helped Keegan’s style and habits. He would kick a cross from the wing in front of the net and Hrubesch will win the air-battle and score with his deadly header. Perhaps HSV had a bit of English flavour, but it was still playing German football – Kaltz was enourmously dangerous anywhere on the pitch and he scored lots of goals too. The arrival of Ivan Buljan from Haiduk (Split) appeared risky at first, for he was well remembered from 1974 World Cup and 1976 European Championship as modern attacking right full-back. The very position Manfred Kaltz played. But nobody suffered – the team gained instead: both players were versatile and able to play other positions. Nominally, Buljan was moved to mid-field, but he covered for Kaltz when he moved somewhere else. The duo was quite unpredictable and thus very difficult to neutralize. Kargus have been among the best German goalkeepers for some time already, and also never becoming number one German keeper, was perhaps the second best. Young talent was quickly establishing themselves – Hartwig and Wehmeyer – but there was one bound to be a star: Felix Magath.

HSV was already a great team – like all great teams, it was difficult to say who is their biggest star and who runs the show: there were more than one. Keegan, Kaltz, and increasingly Magath were great leaders, anyone of them influencing and conducting the game – similarities with Bayern of the first half of the decade were easily drown. The team perhaps lacked strong reserves, but this was expected to be easily corrected: the team was still rising.

One more look at the regulars of the new champions – better get familiar with them: they were going to stay.