The Intercontinental Cup was played on December 9th in Tokyo, as it became fixed permanently. Liverpool vs Independiente – the strongest European club since 1975 against the most successful South American club since 1964. An interesting clash: practically, both clubs coincided in the same period of time, rising to fame about the same time and keeping strong so far. But this was more of a footnote, other things were really at stake: Liverpool, considered the consistently strongest club in the world at the time, so far did not win the Intercontinental Cup – they refused to play against Boca Juniors in 1978 and lost to Flamengo in 1981. Independiente played 5 finals and won once, but their victory was in the distant 1973, when they prevailed over Juventus (Ajax refused to play and was replaced). On top of it, no European club won the cup since 1976, when Bayern beat Cruzeiro. Most of it was lost to the polite and not yet very knowledgeable Japanese crowd, which filled the stadium and cheered both teams, as in the previous years. This itself was unique at times, when fans rivalries were became more tense and violent than the clash on the pitch. The players, however, enjoyed the Japanese, for there was no hostility but sincere cheer and support for every effort, no matter whose. But battle is battle, nobody wanted to lose, and the Intercontinental Cup was rarely displaying great football – most often, it was pure war. So, little there to praise, even if the match was not brutal. This final was not great and memorable benchmark of football either.
The usual arguing with the referee,
hard tackles, all of that took place.
Bochini was the central figure of Independiente,
but he had no luck. Liverpool paid special attention to him.
To a point, the Argentines were seemingly more dangerous – Liverpool was tactically sound, but swarming the man with the ball did not work always.
Ian Rush was battled in any possible way and he was unable to score.
In fact, the game was decided early – in the 9th minute, when Percudani scored. Liverpool was unable to equalize and when the referee blew the whistle for the end of the game, Independiente was the winner.
For a second time they were champions of the World.
The lap of triumph was rightfully theirs.
Venue: Tokyo. Field: National Stadium.
December 9, 1984 Att: 62,000 Ref: Rumualdo (BRA)
Independiente (ARG) 1-0 (1-0) FC Liverpool (ENG)
1-0 6′ Percudani
Independiente: Carlos Mario Goyén – Néstor Rolando Clausen, Hugo Eduardo Villaverde (74′ Pedro Damián Monzón), Enzo Héctor Trossero, Carlos Alberto Enrique – Ricardo Omar Giusti, Claudio Oscar Marangoni, Ricardo Enrique Bochini, Jorge Luis Burruchaga – José Alberto Percudani, Alejandro Esteban Barberón.
Liverpool : Grobbelaar – Neal, Nicol, R. Kennedy, Hansen, Gillespie, Daglish, Mølby, Rush, Johnston, Wark (Whelan)
One can argue to the end of time which Liverpool’s vintage was the best, but this is futile talk – much more important was the devilish ability of Liverpool to maintain powerful teams year after year, avoiding the usual crisis following the exit of great players. By now, only Phil Neal remained of the great team of mid-70s and even he was – to a point – additional player, replacing aging star in his early days. This was Kenny Dalglish’s team, surely, but already with new teammates – practically, a different vintage. One can name better players for almost every post, but still it was a winning team full of current stars. Almost everybody was national team player as well. Yet, the Intercontinental Cup was not for them… Liverpool lost again.
‘Rey de Copas’ – the nickname was not just a pretense and a jest. Like Liverpool, this may not be the top squad Independiente ever had, but this team truly made the club kings of the world. 7 Libertadores Cups, 2 Intercontinental Cups. The European clubs were richer and more talked about, but when it came to intercontinental clash, the South Americans prevailed again and again.