Tourney of all-time great teams (cont.)
Inter ' 65 -- Inter was the king of catenaccio, but Helenio Herrera's Inter wasn't as crushingly negative as is often believed. Giacinto Facchetti was a pioneering attacking left back, and Sandro Mazzola and Luis Suarez creators of great ability. Three scudetti and two European Cups in four years tells its own story.
Real Madrid '60 -- Certain performances remain indelible: Madrid's fifth successive European Cup was won with perhaps its greatest display, a 7-3 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt at Hampden Park that influenced an entire generation who watched it. This was Alfredo di Stefano, Paco Gento and Ferenc Puskas (the only man to appear for two sides in this tournament) at their peak.
Estudiantes '68 -- Great football wasn't always nice. Osvaldo Zubeldia's side could play, but they also specialized in the dark arts, with opponents accusing them of jabbing them with pins and winding them up with highly personalized insults. It was effective, though, as three successive Copa Libertadores proves.
Liverpool '84 -- A fourth European Cup in seven years, and a seventh league title in nine (not to mention a third straight League Cup). Joe Fagan's first season in charge of Liverpool could hardly have been more successful, but he, of course, was only the custodian of the tradition ignited by Bill Shankly and nurtured by Bob Paisley and passed on to Kenny Dalglish.
How the games played out:
Inter 0, Real Madrid 0 -- It promised so much, but it delivered so little. For all Helenio Herrera's bluster about his side not being defensive, it contented themselves with frustrating Madrid. When the visitors had the ball, it packed men behind it, and when Inter won it back, Madrid, without natural ball-winning capacity struggled to get it back. With Jair neutralizing Paco Gento and Canario and Giacinto Facchetti effectively canceling each other out, there wasn't even any room on the flanks.
Estudiantes 0, Liverpool 1 -- An ugly, bad-tempered game, in which Liverpool prevailed by keeping its calm in the face of severe provocation. Only when Graeme Souness flattened Carlos Bilardo with a ferocious foul just before halftime did Liverpool threaten to lose its discipline, but the refereeing standards of 1968 ensured the Scot got away without even a caution. Phil Neal negated Juan Ramon Veron, but the real key to an impressive away win was Liverpool's patience in possession, Souness, Sammy Lee and Ronnie Whelan calmly rotating the ball, until a chance finally presented itself 14 minutes from time, Ian Rush sweeping in from close range as Estudiante failed to clear a corner.
Liverpool 2, Inter 0 -- Liverpool perhaps felt it owed Herrera's Inter after its controversial defeat to Inter in the 1965 European Cup semifinal. Now, as then, Inter wilted at Anfield, its defensiveness simply drawing Liverpool on to it, with Craig Johnston doing a fine job of pinning Facchetti back and thus denying Inter an outlet. Both Liverpool goals came down the left, Whelan getting behind Jair and combining with Dalglish to slip a pass inside for Rush, who turned smartly and hooked a shot into the corner. Dalglish then added the second just after halftime, stroking a precise finish just inside the post as Rush laid Lee's pass back into his path.
Real Madrid 2, Estudiantes 1 -- Estudiantes set out to rile Madrid, Alfredo Di Stefano in particular, but at Chamartin the home crowd proved the more significant factor. Although Estudiantes took a shock lead after 19 minutes, Veron heading in a left-wing corner, Madrid never looked unduly ruffled, its smooth passing at times making its opponents look sluggish. Gento laid in Di Stefano to beat Alberto Poletti at his near post just before halftime, and Puskas got the winner just after the hour, taking Del Sol's pass, jinking on to his left foot and rattling a fierce drive in off the post.
Inter 2, Estudiantes 0 -- It was a brutal game, and but for lenient refereeing, Estu's Carlos Pachame wouldn't have been the only man sent off, dismissed for throwing a punch at Gianfranco Bedin in a melee in injury time. Bedin, it seemed, had reacted to a provocation from Bilardo, grabbing his shirt to provoke the brawl. Poor challenges flew in from the start, but it was Mazzola, aloof from the fray, who put Inter ahead after seven minutes, calmly sidestepping Polletti and rolling into an empty net. That forced Estudiantes to attack, and the second came just after halftime, Facchetti dispossessing Felipe Ribaudo, exchanging passes with Mario Corso, and laying in Luis Suarez to secure Inter's passage to the last eight.
Real Madrid 3, Liverpool 1 -- Liverpool's patient approach for once came unstuck, simply encouraging Madrid onto it. Possession was almost equally shared, but Madrid looked far more dangerous with it, and it took the lead just before halftime, Puskas bisecting Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson with a deliciously-weighted pass and letting in Di Stefano to score. An equalizer early in the second half, volleyed in spectacularly by Lee, gave Liverpool only brief respite and two goals from Puskas, a neat close-range volley from Gento's cross and a tap in after Bruce Grobbelaar had parried a Di Stefano drive, ensured Madrid would top the group.
Through to the quarterfinals:
Real Madrid '60
Jonathan Wilson is the author of Inverting the Pyramid; Behind the Curtain; Sunderland: A Club Transformed; and The Anatomy of England. Editor of The Blizzard.
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