Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Barcelona's finals through the years

author: John Brewin
source: ESPNsoccernet
date: 26 May 2009

Manchester United and Barcelona are two of Europe's most celebrated clubs.

Yet, while both go into Wednesday's Champions League final with recent European titles to their name, these are two clubs who have suffered long waits to win the continent's greatest competition.

Both were denied triumphs in the old European Cup's formative years. United were victorious in 1968 yet had to wait 31 years to triumph again. Barcelona suffered two horrendous disappointments before finally being able to claim the crown in 1992.

1961: Benfica 3-2 Barcelona
To lose this final was as cruel a blow as Barca have suffered in their history. The previous five seasons had seen Real Madrid win consecutive European Cups at a time when confirmed Los Merengues fan Francisco Franco was Spain's dictator. Barca, champions of Spain in both 1959 and 1960, had knocked Real out of the 1960-61 European Cup in the very first round.

Yet Benfica ended hopes of emulating the hated Castilians. The talents of Hungarian trio Zoltán Czibor, Sándor Kocsis, László Kubala, along with Brazilian Evaristo and Ballon D'Or winner Luis Suárez were bested. Barca's captain-cum-keeper Ramallets suffered a nightmare as he blew the early lead with two terrible errors. A Coluna volley gave the Portugese club a commanding lead. Barcelona got back into it with a Czibor strike but time ran out. A golden opportunity had gone and tears flowed in Catalonia. The Generalissimo probably allowed himself a smirk.

watch a video of this game here

1986: Steau Bucharest 0-0 Barcelona (Steau won 2-0 on penalties)
The pain of Berne 1961 was repeated in Seville after a truly x-rated final. Terry Venables had ended 11 years of domestic misery by coaching La Blaugrana to the Spanish title. Between 1961 and 1985, they had won just one title, when inspired by Johan Cruyff in 1974. Venables' first move had been to sell Diego Maradona to Napoli and replace him with Scottish striker Steve Archibald, a gamble that paid off in their first season together. "El Tel" and team reached the final at Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán. Their Romanian opponents looked to pose few problems. Yet lines were fluffed once again.

A half-fit Archibald played instead of semi-final hero Pichi Alonso and offered little. Steau came to defend, making their game plan of spot-kicks evermore plain as the game went on. Archibald and Bernd Schuster were both subbed as the inevitable arrived. A chanceless game was echoed by all of the first four penalties being missed. Lacatus finally scored before Alonso had the next spotkick saved by keeper Helmuth Duckadam. Balint scored before Marcos' kick was again saved by Duckadam, making him the hero of Romania. Twenty-five years on, Barca were miserable again.

watch a video of this game here

1992: Barcelona 1-0 Sampdoria (aet)
Wembley provided the venue for one of football's greatest names to end a long drought. It also provided Johan Cruyff with the ability to put an end to unfinished business from his playing career. This was the first European Cup to feature a league phase and Barca held off Sparta Prague to reach the final. Barca lined-up against the other group winners in Sampdoria, Italian champions boasting Vialli, Mancini and Lombardo in their ranks.

Yet again, nerves wracked Barcelona, marshalled in midfield by current boss Pep Guardiola, then just 21. Goalkeepers Pagliuca and Zubizarreta were kept busy but neither side's strikers were on form. Bulgarian firebrand Hristo Stoichkov hit a post and Vialli blazed over on a number of occasions. Extra-time came and the doom of penalties lurked in the background before a foul on Eusebio gave Ronald Koeman a free-kick chance from 25 yards out. It was a chance he took, propelling a missile past a despairing Pagliuca and thus ending over three decades of Catalan hurt.

watch a video of this game here

1994: AC Milan 4-0 Barcelona
Cruyff's "Dream Team" was in its pomp and had added Romário to their arsenal while AC Milan, beaten in the previous year's final, lacked their first-choice central defence. Baresi and Costacurta, had provided ballast to Milan's twin triumphs of 1989 and 1990 but were missing through suspension. Van Basten was missing with the injury that eventually ended his career. With Wembley throwing off the curse, Barca entered the game as favourites but were massacred in Athens' Olympic Stadium.

Milan, for whom Balkan pair Boban and Savicevic glittered, positively destroyed them from the start. Savicevic created an opener for squat striker Massaro before the Italian grabbed his second from a Donadoni cross. Two minutes after half-time, Savicevic seized on a defensive mistake to score from an improbable angle. Barca were finished and misery was compounded when Marcel Desailly powered through a shell-shocked defence to score a fourth.

watch a video of this game here

2006: Barcelona 2-1 Arsenal
Paris in the springtime brought together two of European football's flair teams. Barca had rediscovered the flowing football of the Cruyff era under another Dutchman in Frank Rijkaard and possessed the world's most celebrated talent in Ronaldinho. Arsenal featured future Barca striker Thierry Henry. Barca had gained some revenge for 1994 in beating AC Milan in the semi-final after Chelsea were earlier despatched in the second round.

The game had looked to be swinging their way when Gunners keeper Lehmann was dismissed for up-ending Eto'o as the Cameroon striker was through on goal. Giuly had knocked the ball in but Barca had to be content with a numerical advantage in terms of personnel rather than scoreline. That looked poor consolation when Campbell headed in from a lofted free-kick. An understandably tiring Arsenal looked to have weathered the storm until the introduction of veteran sub Larsson. The Swede first set up Eto'o for the equaliser and then played in overlapping sub full-back Juliano Belletti to score the winner.

watch a video of this game here

read the full and original article here

Read more:
Barcelona vs Manchester United through the years

No comments:

Custom Search
Custom Search