European finals often display the beautiful game of football at its best. The 2020 Champions League Final between Bayern Munich and Paris Saint Germain, marks the first occasion in 44 years that German and French sides have been in direct opposition at the climax of Europe’s Premier club competition.
Their last encounter took place in May 1976, when Bayern, (chasing a third consecutive European Cup) faced a St Etienne side at Glasgow’s Hampden Park.
Scotland’s national stadium hosted the legendary 1960 Final between Real Madrid and Eintracht Frankfurt, where the Spaniard’s triumphed by an incredible 7-3 scoreline. The prospect of similar fireworks attracted a sell-out crowd and simultaneously drove the pre-match narrative; as gallus pundits opined that Gallic flair would negate the technical prowess of a German model which dominated world football.
The Bayern side contained the spinal column of the World Cup and European Championship winning national side; in the shape of Sepp Maier, Franz Beckenbauer, Uli Hoeness and Gerd Muller.
On route to the Final; St Etienne displayed incredible resolve in overturning a two-goal deficit in their Quarter Final tie with Dynamo Kiev, whilst cracks had been visible in Bayern’s veneer when losing a first-leg Second Round tie to Swedish Champions Malmo.
The 1976 Final proved to be a match of equals
St Etienne, having survived an early scare through a disallowed Muller strike, hit the woodwork on two occasions late in the first-half. The traditional ‘square’ framework of the Goal, matched the calvinistic nature of its surroundings. With 57 minutes played Franz Roth converted a free-kick from distance, to settle the tie in the Germans favour.
The sell-out Hampden crowd had witnessed the curtain-call of Beckenbauer and Muller although the next generation, (in the shape of Karl- Heinz Rummenigge) where there for all to see.
French football would make its mark in time, and no doubt recognizes the debt of gratitude owed to those gallant St Etienne players.
One of their most famous sons – Zinedine Zidane, would grace Hampden Park with a winning goal of balletic quality. In 2002, albeit, (in the colours of Real Madrid), he captured the famous trophy.
This weekend’s match holds certain similarities with the likes of Manuel Neuer, Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski. They face off against Thiago Silva and the sensational Kylian Mbappe.
I urge enthusiasts alike, to look and learn.
We hope you enjoyed this article ‘European Finals: The Beautiful Game’. Which do you think was the greatest of the European finals? Let us know!
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