Posts Tagged Stoichkov
The wait had been long. The two dominant sides of the early 90′s had evaded each other for far too long.
Sure, AC Milan had triumphed over Barcelona in 1989 UEFA Super Cup, but Cruyff’s Dream Team was still in its infancy then.
Five years onward, AC Milan and Barcelona finally clashed, in the most suitable of occassions: The Champions League final.
Milan, however, was no longer the side it had been. The three Dutch stars – Rijkaard, Van Basten, Gullit – were gone. Captain Baresi and the new talent Lentini were injured. And under Capello, Milan’s play wasn’t as impressive as it had been under Arrigo Sacchi.
Barcelona on the other hand looked better than ever. They had just won La Liga for the fourth time in succession. And in Romário, the Catalans had the world’s greatest goalscorer.
It was with casual self-confidence therefore that Cruyff declared that Milan were a shadow of their former self and that Barcelona would easily win…
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The 1991/1992 season brought us the last official ‘European Cup’ campaign. From September 1992 onward, Europe’s prime tournament would be known as the Champions League. Suitably, the last European Cup final was hosted in Wembley – Europe’s most prestigious stadium – and featured two sides who had never won the European Cup before. Sampdoria and Barcelona.
Johan Cruyff and Telê Santana. Two men who will be remembered forever for failing to win a World Cup with their country. Cruyff as a player in 1974. Santana in 1982 as coach.
But now, in 1992, one of them is about to win the World Cup for clubs.
Both teams deserve it. Cruyff’s Barcelona and Santana’s Sao Paulo play football with an ambition beyond merely winning. They aspire to play beautifully. To score more than the other team, rather than concede less.
Inevitably, the result is a classy game. One-touch football, great demonstrations of skills, and consistent fair play. This is clearly one of the finest Intercontinental cup games in history.
The stars of Barcelona are the genius Laudrup, the hot-tempered Stoichkov and the midfield master Guardiola. Playing an early version of the possession and one-touch football that Barcelona today has become synonymous with, Cruyff’s Dream Team was years ahead of its time.
Sao Paulo was equally strong, however. Their excellent striker Muller was provided with balls from the masterful Raí – Socrates’s younger brother. A young Cafu was marauding along the right flank, while the midfield was guarded over by the 38-year-old Toninho Cerezo. Seven months earlier, the same Cerezo had played for Sampdoria in the Champions League final with Barcelona. He had lost that game. Could he now take revenge?
This is, in his own opinion, the best game Romario ever played. It’s also one of the craziest games ever seen in La Liga.
Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona may be the strongest side of all time, their monopoly on possession often results in games lacking in drama or spectacle. The same can’t be said of the original Barcelona Dreamteam, as this 1994 encounter with Atletico Madrid beautifully demonstrates. Earlier in the 93/94 season Atletico had pulled off a sensation by beating Cruyff’s Barcelona despite a classy hat trick from Romario: 4-3. The Dreamteam knew it couldn’t afford to drop points again. With Laudrup relegated to the bench, Cruyff looked once more to Romario to deliver a world class performance.