Sunday, July 11, 2010

Ten World Cup Teams Influenced By One Club

1950 Italy - The Tragedy Of Il Grande Torino

The most poignant and tragic inclusion on the list is that of the 1950 Italy team. The Azzurri performed well below their World Cup pedigree in Brazil, being eliminated at the first group stage, but circumstances beyond their control dictated that the side was to be weakened. Il Grande Torino had won four Serie A titles on the trot in the years preceding 1949 and were in the clear to do so again, and also provided as many as 10 national squad members. However, Torino perished in May 1949 in the Superga Air Disaster on their return home from a match in Portugal. As a result it was a depleted Nazionale that travelled to Brazil. 

1954 Hungary - Military Service

Hungary's Golden Squad of 1954 was based almost exclusively around Honved, a small club from the village of Kispest, now a suburb of the capital. The coach, Gusztav Sebes, was allegedly able to persuade the authorities that players should be allowed to play there instead of performing active military service. It proved to be the breeding ground for Sebes' idea to have a deep-lying forward - a tactical innovation that was a key contributor in their demolishing of the English. Goalkeeper Grosics, Jozsef Boszik, Sandor Kocsis, Ferenc Puskas and Zoltan Czibor all played at Honved. The Magic Magyars were ousted in the final against West Germany. 

1966 England - West Ham 4-2 West Germany

Any old school Hammers fan will tell you that West Ham, and not just England, won the 1966 World Cup. The east London side provided the captain and the goalscorers in the final against West Germany. Bobby Moore, Martin Peters and the hat-trick hero, Geoff Hurst, were all graduates of the world renowned Academy of Football between 1958 and 1959. They were key components in Sir Alf Ramsey's team, even though the latter duo were very much newcomers to the international scene, with less than 10 caps between them heading into the finals. 

1974 West Germany - Bayern Munich; The Joy Of Six

Bayern provided the backbone for West Germany's 1974 success with no fewer than six players from the club appearing in the final. Sepp Meier, Paul Breitner, Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck, Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Mueller and Uli Hoeness all started for the Germans in their home city as they beat off the Dutch challenge. It was a golden era for that set of players, who won the European Cup and Bundesliga earlier that same season. Having six players from a single club in a final is still a World Cup record.

1982 Italy - ItaloJuve I

There is a saying in Italy that "a successful Juventus team makes a successful Italy team" and that was certainly true in 1982. The Bianconeri had just won yet another Scudetto to continue their dominance under Giovanni Trapattoni and provided six of the first choice starting XI of Italy's World Cup winners in Spain. Dino Zoff captained the Azzurri, hardman Claudio Gentile famously man marked Zico and Diego Maradona, libero Gaetano Scirea oozed class, midfielder Marco Tardelli performed the most famous World Cup celebration by scoring the second goal in the final, left back Antonio Cabrini had the looks, the brilliance to erase his penalty miss at 0-0 in the final, and of course striker Paolo Rossi was the ultimate hero after finishing the Mundial as top scorer with six goals in his final three games including an unforgettable hat-trick against Brazil and the opener in the final win over West Germany.

1986 Soviet Union - The Appliance Of Science Fails Lobanovsky

Valeri Lobanovsky was in charge of both USSR and Dynamo Kyiv at the time of the Mexico tournament and brought along no fewer than 12 of his club charges. The tactician received a lot of criticism for choosing his favourites from club level and as it transpired, the Soviet Union fared pretty poorly. Lobanovsky was renowned for his complex, methodical approach and stated that the non-Dynamo members of the squad were unable to produce his desired results. Igor Belanov's competiton was notable in that he scored a hat-trick in the second round defeat to Belgium and still ended up on the losing side. His club? Yes, you guessed it. 

1990 West Germany v Netherlands - The Milan Derby

One of the most fascinating club v club, country v country clashes in World Cup history occurred in San Siro in 1990. West Germany met Holland in the second round with a fascinating subplot. Inter's Andreas Brehme, Lothar Matthaeus and Juergen Klinsmann lined up for the Germans against Milan's Frank Rijkaard, Marco van Basten and Ruud Gullit. Goals from Brehme and Klinsmann helped decide a bad tempered tie between two of international football's greatest rivals. Rijkaard and Rudi Voeller saw red for fighting after only 20 minutes, with Rijkaard disgracing himself by aiming two wads of spit on his opponent's perm. 

2002 Germany - The Curse Of Neverkusen

The Werkself may not have supplied many German representatives in the squad as a whole but members of the Bayer side played a vital role for the Nationalmannschaft in the far east. With a former Leverkusen striker as coach, Voeller, the Germans lined up with Carsten Ramelow, Michael Ballack, Bernd Schneider and Oliver Neuville in key positions. That quartet, along with their club-mates had just come off a hugely bittersweet season after losing out on the Bundesliga title, the DFB Pokal and the Champions League at the final hurdle. There was more anguish in store as the Nationalelf lost in the final to Brazil.

2006 Italy - ItaloJuve II

The lead-up to the 2006 World Cup provided Italian football with some of its blackest days. Calciopoli engulfed the peninsula with Juventus among those clubs hardest hit with punishments. The Old Lady was sent down to Serie B for her part in the scandal but the Turin club still played a huge role in helping the Azzurri claim the world title. Gianluigi Buffon, Gianluca Zambrotta, Fabio Cannavaro, Mauro Camoranesi and Alessandro Del Piero all appeared in the final against France and another Juventino, David Trezeguet, missed the vital penalty kick for Les Bleus.

2010 Spain - Barcelona's Tiki-Tactics

This edition of the Spain squad sees a large chunk of the current Barcelona side transplanted into the red of the national team. Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Pedro Rodriguez and David Villa have all played an integral part in getting la Furia Roja to the final. Indeed, a non-Barcelona player has yet to score for Spain in these championships. This is all the more remarkable considering that Spain do not play with a Barca blueprint; Vicente Del Bosque has his own way of doing things with the players at his disposal. That is a testament to the adaptability of the Blaugrana representatives in his panel.

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