Posts Tagged ‘ Cup Winners Cup ’

ATL Spurs

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ATL Spurs podcast

Matt Gragg, Vice President of ATL Spurs, and I talked about Tottenham Hotspur on the latest SoccerNomad podcast. From the formation of the club to the origins of the Supporters Group to the big win against City to kits and the new stadium, we discussed a lot about the Lilywhites. If you have love Spurs or want to experience a great game day atmosphere, join ATL Spurs at Meehan’s Atlantic Station.

Find out more about the group at their website and on twitter (@ATLSpurs). Look them on facebook as well.

My post on the 2000/01 Spurs away kit can be found here on the SoccerNomad blog.tottenham_hotspur_2000-2001-change

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Thanks for listening! You can also subscribe via iTunes and please leave a rating and review. Follow me on twitter @austinlong1974.

SoccerNomad Podcast: ATL Evertonians

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ATL Evertonians

I met some members of the Atlanta Evertonians at Fado Buckhead to chat about their group and their Toffees through the years. One of the largest supporter groups in the country for Everton, these fans are loud, passionate and loyal.

Learn more about the group. . .

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Thanks for listening! You can also subscribe via iTunes and please leave a rating and review. Follow me on twitter @austinlong1974.

Juventus: A History in Black and White

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Juventus: A History in Black and White

Juventus is one of the most storied clubs in Italy and author Adam Digby does a wonderful job tracing the history of the club.

Starting with the early days of Italian football as it moved from regional leagues to a unified national league to the first period of success for Juvenuts during the 30’s, Digby recounts how the club rose again due to the emergence of the devastating strike force of Charles, Sivori and Boniperti and soared still further under the management of Trapattoni in the 70’s and 80’s. The 90’s saw another golden period which came to a crushing end due to Calciopoli before the Old Lady returned to the top with a new generation of players and the intensity of Conte.

Digby highlights the key protagonists in the club’s history, illustrating how their arrival, performance and demeanor helped shape the club. Things didn’t always go well for the club on the field or in the boardroom and Digby addresses these times. Whenever La Madama struggled a new hero would arise to help lead the team to success and maintain the Juventus spirit.

Digby is a lifelong Juventino and his passion comes through int he book, so it is not an absolutely objective account, but I consider it a strength and the book is a great introduction to the club and I recommend it if you want to learn about one of greats of world football and some critical moments in Italian football history.

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For a full list of my book reviews, please visit the Recommended Reading page. And reach out to me with your suggestions as well.

MatchDay Memory–The Big Two Part 1 (History)

In my ongoing quest to learn more about La Liga, I spent some time before and after the last Clasico researching the two biggest teams in Spain.  This is not going to be a post on the battles between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid through the years or a dissection of the political and social ramifications of the matches, rather a summation of their accomplishments and trends and story lines and how I have interacted with these clashes.

Of the two clubs, I follow FC Barcelona (watch games, try to stay on top of transfer rumors, keep track of player news, follow club politics to a certain extent, etc.), but I don’t live and die with every result. Over time my fandom of all sports and teams has been tempered by a realization that these are just games and should have no influence on how I feel about myself, how I treat others or how it impacts my day.

So FCB’s eternal rivals are Real Madrid and logically I should hate Los Merengues, but I don’t.  What? I respect the club but don’t hate the club. I respect their heritage and talent and I’m not going to spit on them.  I really enjoyed Phil Ball’s book White Storm, which summarized the history of the club quite well.  Had I started following Real Madrid during the first Galactico era (Figo, Zidane, Becks, El Fenómeno, etc), the Evil Empire (a loving tribute) may have been my preferred Spanish team. Instead I started watching the Blaugrana during the days of Rivaldo, Figo, Luis Enrique, and the Dutch contingent, and loved to watch their brand of football.  I say all this to explain why I have the 2003/04 Real Madrid Home and Away kits in addition to all of the FCB jerseys in my collection.

I’m not a Spanish football historian, but in my reading and research—which is merely a hobby that takes time from other things I could and should be doing—it is clear that cycles exist between the two clubs, with one typically in the ascendency pushing the other to the fringes.  However, recently both teams are leading the way at home and on the continent as the two clubs push each other for honors and their place in sporting history. Always has been, always will be.

After World War II, Barca’s Golden Age from 1947/48 to 1959/60 was overshadowed by Real Madrid’s rise to domestic and European dominance.  The Blaugrana won six titles, had three second place finishes and won five Spanish Cups, but Los Blancos reigned supreme starting with the 1953/54 season.  During an amazing 16 year period, Real won twelve league titles, never finishing lower than third, and added six European Cups.

While the team from the capital ruled at home and abroad, FCB never fell out of the top six from 1960 until 1973 but failed to win the league, finishing second six times.  They did add three Spanish Cups to the trophy cabinet, yet the league title eluded them until the arrival of Johan Cruyff in the 73/74 season.  Another barren period in the league commenced, and the club only won the Primera once until 1990.  This was in 84/85 season, which came after an interval of Basque dominance.  There was success in the Spanish Cup (four titles), leading to three Cup Winners Cup wins.  Real Madrid started another cycle in the 1971/72 season, which saw them claim six titles in nine years, while adding three Spanish Cups, but success did not come on the European Stage this time.

Cruyff’s Dream Team of the early 90’s was preceded by Madrid’s La Quinta del Buitre, a squad that won five league titles in a row.  In addition Los Blancos won the 1985/86 UEFA Cup and one Copa del Rey and made the semi-finals of the European Cup three years running.  But it was the Blaugrana who would return Europe’s biggest prize to Spain, with a historic win at Wembley in 1992 before the cycle ended at the hands of Milan in the 1994 European Cup Final.

The rest of the 90’s saw Real take over briefly before a Barca team led by van Gaal reclaimed the throne, with Atleti’s double in 1996 breaking up the dominance.  The first decade of the new century saw the emergence of other clubs in the Primera—Depor and Valencia in particular—who temporarily broke up the stranglehold of the Big Two.  Barca faded in all competitions, not winning a trophy for five years. A transfer of presidency, lack of stability in the manager position, and the transition in the squad were contributing factors.  On the other hand, Real finally got their hands on the trophy with the big ears, winning it in 1998, 2000 and 2002, adding two league titles in the years they did not win in Europe.

Frank Rijkaard came on to the scene for FC Barcelona in 2003 and set the stage for Barca’s Second Golden Age.  (Tangent: I am working on an argument that FCB are currently in epoch that began in 1990.  Starting with Cruyff’s hire and first title, the club has been a dominant force but home and abroad, similar to the winning cycle of AC Milan from 1986 (purchase by Berlusconi) to the 2007 Champions League win.  I hope to put something together in the near future.) A league title win in 04/05 sent the Blaugrana on their way, winning the European Double the following season.  Capello was able to stop the run as the Barca players, led by an irresistible Ronaldinho on the field and a disco loving Ronny off it, lost the plot, eventually losing their grip on their titles and sending the Dutch coach packing.

Enter Pep Guardiola.  The former Dream Teamer oversaw a run of dominance that challenged the great teams of of FCB, Real Madrid and European football.  The Treble of 08/09, which led to the calendar year sextuple of 2009, two more league titles, and another European Final win in 2011. During his tenure, the Blaugrana participated in 19 competitions and won 14 of them, probably the closest to all conquering as we may ever see. Manchester United, Shaktar Donetsk, Estudiantes, Porto and Santos were just some of the clubs who fell to Pep’s juggernaut.  Their rivals responded by bringing in the Special One, who started slowly (reference the manita of November 2010) but eventually formed a team able to stand up to Pep’s team, winning the 2011 Copa del Rey and wresting the title away from Barca with a stunning win at the Nou Camp in the spring of 2012.

Tomorrow’s comments will look at my memories of recent El Clasicos and tactical innovations presented by the last couple of managers.

Old Futbol Buffet–Long Live the King

Eric Cantona signed 20 years ago for Manchester United.  I wasn’t even following football at the time, so my first real memory of him was the 1994 FA Cup Final against Chelsea, with my favorite recollection of the Frenchman being the 1996 FA Cup Final goal struck in the dying moments against Liverpool.  Watching the match on replay at my parents, I screamed in ecstasy as the ball found its way into the back of the net.  Props to Anton Alfy for putting a video of all 82 goals that Cantona scored for Manchester United.  Well worth 15 minutes of your time.  Viva Le Roi!!

Robert Meakin led the tribute to Cantona on last week’s Manchester United Redcast.  After breaking down the win over QPR, he looked at possible winger replacements as Nani will surely be off in January and Young has struggled to find form.  Cantona’s impact on the club was discussed before moving on Fergie and how long he has at the club and who could replace him?  (Pep and Mourinho were mentioned.)

Speaking of Fergie, Roger Bennett posted on ESPN FC regarding the recent Harvard Business School report on Sir Alex, noting that the secrets to his success are building a foundation, maintaining control, evolving with the times, and evaluating talent.  Would love to get a copy of that.

As for the current United team, a crazy first half saw seven goals in 34 minutes, as the Red Devils went into half time up 4-3.  That ended up being the final score in a game that was full of incident.  Due to supporting my kid’s school, I was working in a concession stand and missed the brouhaha.

Daniele at Red Rants watched another sloppy performance from the United rearguard, and only a strong and swift response from the team earned the Reds the three points.  As he pointed out in his post game notes:

Sure they score goals for fun and they’ve mastered the old club tradition of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat – United have fallen behind 14 times in 22 games this season – but thinking that the “you score four, we score five” approach could possibly lead to a title, is at best naive and at worst downright deluded.

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MLS Cup Final

After watching a couple of La Liga games, I was able to see the second half of the MLS Cup.  The Galaxy took the game to the Dynamo, with Gonzalez equalizing and then LA taking the lead after Clark handled in the box.  Donovan converted and eventually the breakaways paid off as Hall tried to haul down Keane, who kept his feet but the referee pointed to the spot again.  The Irishman scored the spot kick this time to give the Galaxy a 3-1 win and second MLS Cup win in a row.

A couple of thoughts:

  • Ricardo Clark is awful.
  • Not sure if Lalas shaving his mustache at halftime is the grossest or awesomest thing ever.
  • Houston’s jerseys looked like they were claimed from a Goodwill sale.  I thought sublimation was left back in the 90’s.  SB Nation’s Dynamo page posted the particulars on the shirt.  (Rays and energy. Seriously?)
  • Mad props to Donovan for dedicating his goal to a Make A Wish family.  No way I would have even thought of that in the aftermath of a Cup victory.
  • The MLS ball reeked of bargain bin quality.
  • Tally is not a name.  It’s a hunting cry.

The panel on the SI Soccer Roundtable (11/29) discussed the chapter that is ending with Beckham’s farewell and the future of the league as a whole.  Really brought the last five years of the league into the focus.

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Articles and Podcasts

Bira Brasil was Beyond the Pitch in the aftermath of Mano Menezes being axed as Brazil boss.  Bira handicapped the challengers and thought that Tite and Ramalho would be chosen ahead of former coach and World Cup Winner Luiz Felipe Scolari.  In the end Big Phil was chosen.  Can he regroup the team ahead of a home World Cup?  Watch this space.

Tim Vickery was on the Off the Ball last Wednesday to discuss the dismissal as well, blaming politics for the departure of Menezes.  Brazil is at a crossroads, having to choose between reclaiming their heritage or continuing with the current over physical, counter attacking approach.  With the reappointment of Scolari the latter has been chosen, and his task will be build another “family” and lead the Seleção to glory on home soil.

News of an expanded 64 team Champions League hit the interwebs last week leading to the usual moaning and groaning from fans and media.  I think Iain Macintosh’s post on ESPN FC was spot on, identifying the old adage—follow the money.  The loss of the European Cup, UEFA Cup and Cup Winners Cup has brought the game to the point where undoing the last 20 years is impossible.  The fact that this year’s Champions League Group Stages have been interesting just masks the fact that usually they aren’t and that 16 groups of four teams will be super tedious.  If only the group winner progressed, there might be some value, but inevitably the current 16 team knockout will morph into the 32 team knockout, which will start earlier and earlier into each new year, packing the fixture list even more.  This is a horrible idea and will hopefully kill the golden goose, so that real reform can happen.  Doubt it.

Staying with Europe, Christoph recounted German football during the 1970’s on his blog, An Old International.  He recapped the bribery scandal early in the decade, which affected the image of the emerging league but also allowed the country to move forward.  This release led to unprecedented success for clubs and the national team.  Bayern Munich and Borussia Mönchengladbach dominated the league, winning eight of the 10 domestic titles, and also conquered Europe with Die Roten winning three European Cups and BMG winning two UEFA Cups.  Plus the Nationalmannschaft won the 1972 European Championship and then claimed the 1974 World Cup before losing out to Czechoslovakia in the 1976 European Championship Final.  Great read and thanks to Peter Alegi for the link.

Finally, Matt Reece, a fellow member of Mid Michigan United shared this amazing freestyling video on my Facebook timeline.  After watching it, a couple of things struck me.  1. Mind blowing skills, but it does sort of come across as someone with too much free time.  2.  I only take my clothes off for the ladies and never in public.  3.  What the Michael Jackson song???  Anyway give it watch and see if you can even do one thing that guy did.

Strip Club–ATF Edition

The FC Barcelona centenary jersey is one of my favorite jerseys of all time, and the moment it arrived in my mailbox, I felt that my life was complete.

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My first exposure to the Blaugrana was their demolition of Manchester United during the 94-95 Champions League Group Stage. I was stunned when my best friend told me the score and figured this team had to be pretty good. Little did I know that I had just missed the Dream Team and their first European Cup triumph (1992).

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Due to limited TV coverage, the first time I actually saw them play was the 96-97 UEFA Cup Winners Cup Final, a drab game decided by a penalty kick from the original Ronaldo and after his one season with the club, he would go on to Inter. For the next couple of years, ESPN would show a Spanish game on Monday afternoons, which were must viewing for me, and I would reschedule soccer practice so that we could watch the games, with games involving FCB involving mandatory participation.

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The 1999-2000 squad had great players, like Rivaldo, Figo, Luis Enrique, and a large Dutch contingent—the de Boer’s, Reiziger, Zenden, Cocu and Kluivert—and a certain Pep Guardiola. That season they finished empty handed, losing the Spanish Super Cup, finishing second in the league, getting crushed 6-0 on aggregate by Atletico Madrid in the semis of the Copa del Rey, and being knocked out of the Champions League by Valencia in the semis. After this season Van Gaal and Nunez left the club and, lest we forget, Figo signed with the enemy.

The kit is not a typical FCB jersey with the multiple blue and red/burgundy stripes, instead it is just half and half (with a very interesting shade of metallic blue) with navy sleeves, a bold reminder of Joan Gamper’s Swiss influence so many years ago. The half and half design was a call back to the original shirt and a precursor of the jersey worn during the magical treble season of 08-09. As for the jersey itself, it is lightweight, classy and timeless. I almost never wear this one to play in because I don’t want anything to happen to it.

Barcelona 1999-00 Home Centenary Detailed

As the image shows, burgandy accents the navy blue cuffs and a dynamic centenary patch brings attention to the historical year for the club. The club crest and historical markers are simple and understated, and the gold name/number set were a nice touch. (I wish now that I had mine personalized). It took me a while to realize that the kit did not have a sponsor. Of course money eventually won the day, with the club needing an additional revenue streams to maintain their status on and off the field. In the end, the strip is not from a memorable season but the jersey itself is one for the ages.