Cup Winners Cup. By its very nature, it was the most uneventful tournament for years – few strong clubs appeared and usually some of them were eliminated only because the draw paired them with another strong team. Otherwise, hardly ever surprise results and this issue was absolutely even. Manchester United had some fright in the first round, but still prevailed on away goals against Dukla (Prague). The whims of the draw victimized some stronger teams later: Paris SG was eliminated by Juventus in the second round. Glasgow Rangers lost to FC Porto also in second round. May be 1. FC Koln’s elimination by Ujpesti Dozsa was seen as a surprise, but not that big one. Lowly Valkeakosken Haka (Finland) reached the ¼ finals, a huge success for the Fins, but it was also not a great surprise – they played against Irish Sligo Rovers and Swedish Hammarby IF, weak enough opponents. The Finns met Juventus in the ¼ finals and that was the end for them, as expected. Barcelona was unlucky, meeting Manchester United and was also out at this stage. That was the only pair without clear favourite in the ¼ finals – all others had a favourite and the favourites prevailed: Aberdeen eliminated Ujpesti Dozsa and FC Porto – Shakhter (Donetsk).
The semi-finals also fulfilled expectations: Juventus overcome Manchester United 1-1 and 2-1, and FC Porto won both legs against up and coming, but not yet at its peak Alex Ferguson’s Aberden – 1-0 and 1-0.
Of course, the finaists may have been different, but given the results – not only expected finalists, but the best teams of this season: Juventus vs FC Porto. What was at stake? Quite a lot. Juventus was still well behind Milan and Inter in terms of international success and any cup was more than welcome. FC Porto already established itself as leading Portuguese club and its rapid climb since 1975 needed international recognition via trophies. However, Juventus, with its 5 World champions plus Platini and Boniek was obvious favourite – FC Porto had only one major international star: the goalscoring machine Gomes. The European championship was yet to take place, so the other Portuguese national team players were not in focus yet. Juventus were favourites at first glance, but there were things against them too – first of all, scoring. Italian teams were never big scorers and the usual defensive approach could misfire against relatively unknown teams having nothing to lose and possessing fantastic goal-getter.
The final was played in Basel and predictably was the least memorable final – quickly forgotten because of the exciting European Championship finals. What was largely forgotten was the improvement of FC Porto.
For some reason both teams played with their second kits – may be the only time neither finalist used its regular colours. Most likely it was a demand made by the television, for there was no colour-conflict between the regular kits of the opponents – but at that time black-and-white television was still common and striped kits with lots of white were indistinct.
Platini was much in focus, predictably so.
The final had its ‘moments’, although it was not a brutal fight.
Juventus opened early (Vignola, 12th minute), but FC Porto came retaliated in the 29th minute, thanks to Sousa.
Boniek restored the Italian lead in the 41st minute.
Nobody managed to score in the second half and the final ended 2-1 Juventus.
Time for celebration.
May be dressed in unfamiliar yellow and blue, but Juventus delighted with their second European trophy.
Final, St. Jakob, Basel, 16 May 1984, att 60000
Juventus (2) 2 FC Porto (1) 1
12′ 1-0 J: Vignola
29′ 1-1 P: Sousa
41′ 2-1 J: Boniek
Tacconi; Gentile, Brio, Scirea, Cabrini; Tardelli, Bonini, Vignola (Caricola 89), Platini; Rossi, Boniek
Zé Beto; João Pinto, Lima Pereira, Enrico, Eduardo Luís (Costa 82), Magalhaes (Walsh 64), Frasco, Pacheco, Sousa; Gomes, Vermelinho
Referee: Prokop (East Germany)
FC Porto came close to victory and lost minimally – hardly a consolation. To a point, it was fair they lost – the team emerged from obscurity less than 10 years ago. They were constantly getting better, but it was still a team in building, not a finished one at its peak. Given the limited resources – compared to other European countries – even a rich Portuguese club would not get big international stars. Simply, there was no chance for big reinforcement: Juventus easily had Platini and Boniek, Porto had Walsh. Different class right there and sheer enthusiasm would not compensate. And not only against Juventus – FC Porto twice qualified only because of away goal and never had a win with more than a goal difference during the campaign to the final. Only once they managed to score 3 goals in a game and then they received 2 (at the semi-final home leg against Shakhter). Good team, improving team, but not ready to conquer Europe yet.
Juventus got a second European trophy, adding the Cup Winners Cup to its UEFA Cup. Great, because they won, Great, because they were hungry for success. Great having won 2 outs of 3 European competitions. But still trailing behind Milan and Inter… so far, no European Champions Cup. Perhaps the happiest were Juve’s foreigners Platini and Boniek – in their previous clubs, they could not even dream for European clubs. Huge stars, but Juventus was the first club in their careers providing opportunity for winning international cups. Apart from that, Juventus was more than solid – 5 reigning World champions! And Platini and Boniek finally adjusted to the team and each other. This was a squad ready for big things, no doubt. Going up, still refining. Winning the Cup Winners Cup was perhaps the last necessary step to the very top – and it was taken and done.