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Monday, 12 September 2011

Barcelona v AC Milan, Champions League Final, 1994

In May 1994, UEFA got a dream final for their flagship competition when Cruyff's "Dream Team" met Capello's AC Milan: Europe's most formidible club side of that and, just perhaps, any era. Barcelona were hoping to extend their domestic dominance- Barca won their fourth consecutive Liga title that year- into Europe. The club had only won the tournament two years before, and saw this final as a chance to take over Milan's crown as Europe's pre-eminent club side. 

Wembley Kings Mk 1- 1992 European Cup Winners
Milan, on the other hand, had lost the previous year's final to Marseille and hadn't won Europe's premier cup tournament since 1990; despite continued dominance in Italy. The sides boasted players such as Maldini, Guardiola, Romario, Stoichkov, Rossi, Boban, Desailly et al and the final was certainly memorable. However, what is remembered is how Milan squashed Cruyff's Dream Team and snuffed out any hint of the Catalans usurping Milan as European kings.
 Milan took full advantage of poor Barca defending and some luck for the second goal to trounce the Blaugrana 4-0. Milan's empire finally crumbled the following year by virtue of a 1-0 defeat to Ajax in the final, and the rise of Juventus as Italy's domestic power. Barca, on the other hand, never recovered and limped out in the quarter final of the following season's campaign to PSG. They did; however, manage to thrash Manchester United 4-0 en route to that stage; thus showing Alex Ferguson how far behind his team was behind Europe's elite. How history likes to repeat, it seems. At home, two trophyless seasons was enough to see even Cruyff get the sack. 
1994 Champions League FInal Venue
 Milan would bounce back sooner than Barca with a 2003 Champions League win which signalled the start of another, much shorter, period of European success; with three Champions League final appearances in five editions. Barcelona had to endure scraps in the form of a Ronaldo-inspired Cup Winners Cup victory in 1997 and a couple of Champions League semi final appearances. However, all this mattered not as they witnessed Real Madrid add three Champions League crowns to the six European Cups sitting in the Bernabeu Museum. Even Valencia managed two runners-up spots, beating Barca in the semis of the 1999-2000 tournament. Barcelona would have to wait until 2006 for their shot at another final, and they haven't looked back since...

Friday, 9 September 2011

Dundee 4-1 Dundee United, Sep 9th 1961

Cover of Derby Match Programme, 09-09-1961

In its preview of the second round of fixtures for the 1961-62 season; The Glasgow Herald, perhaps unsurprisingly, singled out an all Glasgow clash between Partick and Rangers as the game of the day; despite conceding that Partick don't boast a particularly good record against the Ibrox club. The paper does think that the match at Dens will be a "stirring contest"; however, with a "close result" expected. The result was anything but, with the Dark Blues winning 4-1. The first team continued the good work of the reserves who won the "mini derby" 3-2 at Tannadice with McGeachie among the scorers. The match report of the first team's game can be read on Dundee-Mad.

Centre fold of Derby Programme

Monday, 5 September 2011

Dundee 2-2 Third Lanark, League Cup 02-09-1961

And thus, on the 2nd of September 1961, Dundee rounded off their League Cup campaign with a 2-2 draw against Thirds at Dens. Although the sectional group included Rangers; it was an altogether disappointing campaign with just the two wins from the six games, and Dundee had to content themselves with a second place finish. 

Friday, 2 September 2011

"Rangers Held at Dens - an exciting contest"

Or so went the Herald headline for the match report of the 1-1 draw in the League Cup between Dundee and Rangers on 30th August, 1961. Rangers failed to win for the first time that season and fell behind in the third minute to a Robertson goal. Dundee's attack showed up well with Cousin and Gilzean, the latter recently selected to represent the Scottish League against Eire, receiving the best plaudits. The Dundee defence; however, was not so well received:

"Rangers' four man attack had the Dundee defence- Ure excepted-shaken at times. Cox lost almost every duel with Scott, who might have won the game for Rangers had his finishing been as accurate as his work in the outfield. 

Cox, unfortunately, resorted to tactics which were hardly in character for him."

Nevertheless, it was described as Dundee's best display of the season, and these two sides would still have two mouth watering ties to come...

The result cemented Rangers' place in the quarter finals of the cup.