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Sunday, 30 December 2012

Saint-Étienne 1976.



In 1976, Saint-Étienne became the first French club since Reims in 1959 to reach the final of the European Cup. Played at Hampden Park in Scotland, they faced two time defending champions Bayern Munich. The match was hotly contested with Les Verts failing to convert numerous chances.

A single goal by Franz Roth eventually decided the outcome and Saint-Étienne supporters departed Scotland in tears; however, not without nicknaming the goalposts "les poteaux carrés" (the square posts). Saint-Étienne did earn a consolation prize by winning the French league to cap off a successful season but, despite being a contender abroad for many years to come, they never again got close to Europe's biggest prize.

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Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Barcelona 2009 - No.6 Xavi.



Xavier "Xavi" Hernández came through La Masia, the Barcelona youth academy, and made his first-team debut in 1998. Since then he has played 697 matches, scored 78 goals and made more than 180 assists for over 50 players. 
Xavi's abilities on the football pitch have led his teams to numerous titles and placed him among the most decorated footballers of all time. He is the first player in Barcelona's history to play 150 international matches and was an integral part of the sextuple-winning Barcelona side in 2009, the only time which a club has achieved six titles in a year.

The claim that Xavi is one of the best midfielders of his generation and perhaps all time relies largely on his ability to find and exploit space. As he said: "That's what I do: look for spaces. All day. I'm always looking". Xavi's abnormally good vision, pinpoint accurate passing and world class ball control allow him to dictate the flow of play whilst rarely relinquishing possession. His ability to completely control some matches has earned him the sobriquet, "The Puppet Master".

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Benfica 1984.


Benfica had some problems in the early 1980s, but managed to regain its standing as the best team in Portugal within this decade, this time under the guidance of Sven-Göran Eriksson. In two years, 1983 and 84, the club won the Portuguese championship, one Portuguese Cup, and reached the final of the UEFA Cup in 1983 against Anderlecht.
In 1987, Benfica won another domestic double, an achievement done for the ninth time in its history, and reached European Cup finals in 1988 and 90.

Following the completion of improvements to the stadium, the board of Benfica decided to open the third level of the Estádio da Luz, which transformed it into the biggest football stadium in Europe, with a capacity of 120,000 spectators.

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Sunday, 25 November 2012

Club America - Las Aguilas.


Club America are commonly known as 'Aguilas del America' with reference to the club mascot the eagle, which is flown around their stadium, the impressive Estadio Azteca, at half-time every match.

The Azteca is the largest stadium in Mexico and Latin America, and the second largest football stadium in the world with a capacity of 105,000. It is also the only stadium in history to host two World Cup finals, in 1970 and 1986.

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Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Soviet Union 1963 - No.1 Yashin.



Lev Yashin was a true football revolutionary, who transformed the way people viewed the goalkeepers position.
Kitted out in all-black, Yashin was christened the "Black Spider" and foiled an estimated 150 penalty attempts during an illustrious 22-year career.
In 1963 he became the only goalkeeper ever to win the European Footballer of the Year Award. One of his best performances was the FA Centenary match of that year, when he appeared in the ‘Rest of the World XI’ against England at Wembley and made a number of breathtaking and almost unbelievable saves that cemented his status.


Oozing charisma and talent in abundance, Yashin pioneered a new approach to goalkeeping and his legacy lives on through every stopper playing football today; commanding the area, communicating with the defence, punching away clearances and early distribution are commonplace now because of the Soviet Union legend. Yashin was, and remains, in the words of the great Eusebio, "the peerless goalkeeper of the century".

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Werder Bremen 1982.


SV Werder Bremen have been a mainstay in the Bundesliga and have been crowned champions on four occasions.
The club dropped out of the Bundesliga for the first and only time in 1981 but to many it was a blessing in disguise as Werder recovered themselves under the direction of newly hired coach Otto Rehhagel, who led the side to a string of successes: Bundesliga runners-up in 1983, 1985 and 1986, champions in 1988 and 1993; twice German cup winners; followed by victory in the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1992.
Rehhagel left the club in June 1995 after this impressive run for a short-lived turn as coach of Bayern Munich.

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No.9 - Voller


Völler joined Werder Bremen in 1982, winning his first cap for Germany in the same year. Following a successful five years, in which he became the Bundesliga's top scorer in 1983, foreign clubs became interested in the striker, and in 1987 he was transferred to Roma. The 'flying German' scored 45 goals for the Italian club but scored twice as many in fewer games for Bremen.

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Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Brazil 1982.

No.10 - Zico

In the 1982 World cup in Spain all eyes were on Brazil. In Zico, Sócrates, Falcão, Éder and Junior, the rejuvenated 'Seleção' boasted an offensive firepower that promised a return to the glory days of 1970. The tri-campeão lived up to all expectations and they strolled into the second round 'group of death' with Argentina and Italy.

The match between Brazil and Italy would be a game to remember. Twice Italy went in the lead through Paolo Rossi's goals, and twice Brazil came back. At 2-2, Brazil would have gone through on goal difference, but on 74 minutes, a poor clearance from an Italy corner kick fell to where Rossi and Graziani were waiting. Both strikers reflexively aimed at the same shot, Rossi connecting and sending Italy to the semifinals in one of the all-time great games of World Cup history.

Often called the "White Pelé", Zico is commonly considered the world's best player of the late 70's and early 80's. One of the best playmakers and free kick specialists of any generation, he was able to bend the ball in all directions with pace and was deadly inside the final third of the pitch.

With 48 goals in 71 appearances for Brazil, Zico is the fourth highest goalscorer in Brazil's history. He represented them in the 1978, 1982 and 1986 World Cups, probably the best Brazilian player never to have been on a World Cup winning squad.
In 1999, Zico came eighth in the FIFA Player of the Century grand jury vote.

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No.15 - Falcao


Whenever people talk about great teams of previous World Cups, this Brazilian team of 1982 always seems to be mentioned. They failed to reach the semifinals, but won the hearts of millions of football fans world-wide. Being one of the most elegant sides ever assembled, the memory of their football will linger.

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Sunday, 21 October 2012

Denmark 1986 - No.11 Laudrup.


Widely regarded as one of the greatest players ever, Michael Laudrup made his debut for Denmark on his 18th birthday in 1982, and went on to score 37 goals in 104 appearances for the national side.
He took part in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, a performance which is best remembered for his exceptional solo dribble and goal in the 6–1 defeat of Uruguay.
A play-making midfielder, Laudrup was known as one of the most effective passers, as well as one of the most skillful and elegant players of the game. His trademark move — looking one way and passing the other, usually a lob over the defence — fooled countless opponents during his career.

In November 2003, to celebrate UEFA's Jubilee, he was selected as the Golden Player of Denmark; their most outstanding player of the past 50 years. He was officially named the best Danish footballer of all time by the Danish Football Association (DBU) in November 2006.
Franz Beckenbauer once remarked "Pelé was the best in the 60s, Cruyff in the 70s, Maradona in the 80s and Laudrup in the 90s."

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Steaua Bucharest.


The most successful club in Romania in terms of international and overall trophies, the club was founded in 1947 and was known as the Romanian Army sports club, but changed its name several times before settling on Steaua (The Star) in 1961.
They became the first East European team to win the European Cup, being victorious in the 1986 European Cup final against Barcelona on penalties. Steaua played again in the final in 1989, but lost heavily against Milan.

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Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Barcelona 1974 - No.9 Cruyff.


The 1973–74 season saw the arrival of Johan Cruyff, who was bought for a world record £920,000 fee from Ajax, and as one would expect from the worlds outstanding footballer, he instantly had a massive impact, and would ultimately change the history of the club.

Cruyff quickly won over the Barcelona fans when he told the European press he chose Barça over Real Madrid because he could not play for a club associated with the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. He further endeared himself when he chose a Catalan name, Jordi, for his son.

A year after he moved to Camp Nou, he helped the club win La Liga for the first time since 1960, along the way defeating Real Madrid 5–0 at the Bernabéu and was also crowned European Footballer of the Year, a title he would claim twice in succession.

He returned to manage Barça in 1988, and although his impressive haul of 11 trophies has since been surpassed by his former pupil Josep Guardiola, Cruyff has been Barcelona's longest serving manager to date.


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Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Russia.


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Palmeiras 1994 - No.10 Rivaldo.


Believed too physically weak to succeed by youth coaches Rivaldo Vítor Borba Ferreira's story is truly amazing.
He joined Palmeiras in 1994, who were then reigning champions in Brazil and with Rivaldo they successfully defended their title. His two seasons at Palmeiras were amongst the most successful in his career, Rivaldo’s goal tally reaching 53 in 104 matches.

This extraordinary goal/match ratio earned him a move to Europe, when Deportivo La Coruna signed him which in turn heralded a glorious move to Barcelona.


Considered to be one of the best players of his generation, in 1999 Rivaldo was honoured as FIFA World Player of the Year, Ballon d'Or winner and European Footballer of the Year.
Between 1993 and 2003, Rivaldo played 74 matches and scored 34 goals for Brazil and was an integral part of the 2002 FIFA World Cup winning team.


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St. Marks (Manchester City) 1880.



Manchester City F.C. was founded as St. Mark's (West Gorton) in 1880. The club was formed with the aim of binding the local community and to combat a form of gang warfare called scuttling that existed during the 1870s. The rector's daughter, Anna Connell, is widely credited as the founder.
The shirts they wore were very distinctive but the reason for the Maltese cross is unknown to this day.
St. Mark's became Ardwick Association Football Club in 1887 and Manchester City in 1894.

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Dynamo Kiev 1960.


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Poland.


The most renowned Polish team was the one of the mid-1970s that held England to a draw at Wembley to qualify for the World Cup in 1974. They defeated Brazil 1–0 to claim third place in the tournament, with striker Grzegorz Lato winning the Golden Boot for his seven goals.
Poland also finished 3rd in the 1982 beating France 3–2 in the third-place play-off.

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Wolverhampton Wanderers.


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Thursday, 5 July 2012

PSV Eindhoven.



Philips Sport Vereniging (Philips Sports Union) - is a sports club from Eindhoven, Netherlands and is best known for its professional football department.
After Gerard and Anton Philips gave the foundation order, the club started out as a works team for employees of electronics conglomerate Philips in 1913.


PSV have garnered many honours in the football arena and have been credited as the club where many successful players such as Gullit, Romário, Koeman, Ronaldo, Cocu, and van Nistelrooy made their name. PSV, as with most Dutch clubs has difficulty competing with the salaries that are being paid elsewhere on the continent, but its remarkable heritage means it will always be a springboard for the professional development of talented footballers.

In 1988, coached by Guus Hiddink and with a team featuring Koeman, Gerets, Lerby and Kieft, PSV won the European Cup for the first and so far only time in their history, beating Benfica on penalties after the final ended
0–0 in Stuttgart.
Hans van Breukelen was the hero, stopping the crucial penalty, with Eindhoven converting all their spotkicks. Curiously, PSV took the trophy despite not winning any of its final five fixtures in the competition.
PSV is one of only three European Cup-winning clubs in the Netherlands, alongside rivals Ajax and Feyenoord.


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