UEFA Euro 1980 would see an introduction to a new-look tournament featuring eight teams. Italy did not make it past the group stage but cemented the base of a side that would go on to become World Cup champions two years later. Belgium’s golden generation proved to be the tournament surprise despite losing to mighty West Germany in the Final.
Euro 1976 seemed set to give us another chapter of an unfolding football rivalry as West Germany and the Netherlands found themselves together at the latter stages of a European Finals for the first time. However, the stage was stolen by Czechoslovakia and a mostly unknown player whose name would eventually go on to become a verb: Antonin Panenka.
Belgium seemed to be a fitting neutral host nation in the climate of Cold War relations and it was perhaps for that reason that it was chosen to host the European Championship in 1972. The tournament retained the four-team format that had by now become familiar and there was no doubt as to which team went into it as favorites: Gerd Muller’s debuting West Germany.
This week we look at UEFA Euro 1968, a year of firsts, a year of chance and a very different competition to the tournament we know today. Italy were the host nation and went on to win their only European championship to date in a pretty unconventional manner – making their way past the USSR by means of a coin toss and beating Yugoslavia in a Final that was played twice.
Before Xavi and co. had ushered international football into an era of Spanish dominance, you would have been forgiven for not recalling the last name to come close to landing some silverware for La Roja. The Euro 1964 hero, Luis Suarez, managed to bring the best out of his teammates on the way to lifting the only trophy Spain would claim for the next 44 years.
After squeezing through to the knockout stages, Atalanta’s Champions League debut is gathering pace. After a stellar performance at home by the hugely talented Italian side, they seem poised to go through. It would take a feat of epic proportions for Valencia to overturn the 4-1 advantage in a second leg which will be played behind closed doors due to coronavirus.
In the lead up to what will be a historic UEFA Euro 2020, The Cult of Calcio will be offering a look into the past, turning over the extraordinary moments that have been a part of one of the greatest events in international sport. Today, we begin with a look at the very beginning, a tournament that would belong to one man: USSR’s legendary goalkeeper Lev Yashin.
This weeks’ Champions League roundup sees three Italian sides through the knockout stages but perhaps not exactly the teams you’d expected. Inter went into the game against Barcelona knowing that only a win would aid them in their attempts to progress, but a weakened Spanish eleven offered no solace to the Nerazzurri’s hopes of European qualification.
After a valiant performance at Anfield where Ancelotti’s men held on for a hard earned point, Napoli secured their place in the knockout stages of the Champions League in emphatic style at home to Genk. Hours later Carlo Ancelotti was out of a job, his dismissal immediately overshadowed by President Aurelio De Laurentiis’ swift appointment of Gennaro Gattuso.
In Champions League Round 5, Juventus beat Atletico Madrid to cement their place in the knockout rounds, while Inter grabbed the win they needed to remain in contention for qualification. Atalanta dispatched of Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb, whereas Liverpool and Napoli settled for one point which still leaves the Partenopei with hope of snatching top spot.
Adriano Leite Ribeiro’s meteoric rise coincided with a grand epoch in Italian football. He was already on his way to featuring on the cover of video games in 2003, as the Champions League hosted an all-Italian final. Transfer records were being broken and the world’s hottest footballing prospects had their eye on eventually reaching the pinnacle of calcio.