Friday, 21 May 2010

Great Football Teams

There is a thread over at RTG about greatest football teams, with a lot of voices raised for the Milan side of the late 80s - Ruud Gullit, Marco Van Basten, Frank Rijkaard, Franco Baresi and of course Paulo Maldini. I was eight or nine years old at the time of this team, and it would be a few years yet before I discovered what all the fuss was about kicking a ball around.

But I can vividly remember watching Match of the Day with my Dad in around 1993 and being impressed - having no knowledge of the game - with the young Ryan Giggs and the United side which had just won the first Premier League title and which all the papers were raving about, with Giggs being frequently compared to George Best and so on. I remember my Dad saying that it was all nonsense and that that United side weren't anything special at all. I thought it was just because he was getting old, but he really was right. Later that season, I remember that United team going to the Nou Camp to take on that Barca team with Romario and Stoichkov and United got slaughtered 4-0. Suddenly the wonder team everyone in England had been hyping up seemed absolutely hopeless. I was shocked.

But what I remember next will stay with me forever I think: when the European Cup final came around in 1994, that terrifying Barca team led by Stoichkov - scoring free kicks from 40 yards away - were favourites against a Milan side which was to play without three or four key players due to injuries or suspensions as well as the fact that some players were ineligible due to stupid UEFA rules about player nationality. That Milan side included Zvonimir Boban, Marcel Dessailly, Demetrio Albertini, Christian Panucci, Dejan Savicevic, Danniele Massaro and Paulo Maldini...

Well... I was stunned. That Milan side ran out 4-0 winners, but their superiority to Barca was unquestionable throughout the whole 90 minutes. I can remember asking myself at one point, watching the game on the kitchen TV with my Dad, whether I had seen Milan put a single pass astray the entire time - they were that good it was like watching gods in white socks - every pass was just about inch perfect and they seemingly didn't even need to look up to accomplish them.

After that I always wanted to play football in white socks...

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