Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Greatest Euro Matches: France-Spain (1984)

France had nearly the perfect championship in 1984 when they won the tournament at home – the first major tournament France ever won. They had also been huge favourites when entering the tournament given their team of superstars that had made it to the semifinals of the 1982 world cup. The undisputed superstar of the team was Michel Platini from Juventus, who led a midfield that had become known as the “magic square”, with Alain Giresse and Jean Tigana from Bordeaux, as well as Luis Fernandez from Paris Saint Germain. It was a fantastic side that had opened the tournament with three straight wins against Denmark, Belgium and Yugoslavia. And Platini had been unstoppable with seven goals in the first three matches. In the semi-finals the French ran into their first trouble when Portugal led them 2-1 in extra time, but two late strikers by Toulouse's Jean Francois Domergue and Platini (who else?) put them in the final against Spain.
Spain had always been the unfulfilled giant in European football. With one of the greatest clubs in the world in Real Madrid, the national side had nevertheless always underperformed, perhaps due to the enormous rivalry between Real Madrid and the Catalonian side FC Barcelona. In 1982 Spain had hosted the world cup and expectations had been enormous, but Spain had in spite of home support and a strong side only made it to the second round after embarrassing results against Honduras and Northern Ireland. The Spanish team was captained by Real Sociedad's goalkeeper Luis Arconada, and was a combination of players from the three strongest Spanish teams (Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao), complemented by six more sides. It seemed like a good balance for the legendary coach Miguel Munoz.
Spain had qualified somewhat sensationally. Because of scoring difference they needed to win their final game by a margin of 11 goals against Malta. Spain won 12-1, and made it to the tournament ahead of the Netherlands. To make it to the semi-finals they had won their group ahead of Portugal when, in their last match against West Germany, Sporting Gijon's Antonio Maceda gave them the winning goal in the last minute of the match. In the semi-final they had also fought hard to defeat Denmark by penalties, but still making it to the final.
In Paris France seemed completely unbeatable, but the difficulties that Portugal had given the French gave the Spanish some hope.
Although dominating the not very memorable first half, France had no clear chances. On the other hand, Real Madrid's Santillana had a header which was cleared on the line. But twelve minutes into the second half whatever meager hopes Spain may have harboured were crushed. Michel Platini took a free kick outside the area. Not a particularly hard free kick, but the ball somewhat slipped under Luis Arconada's hands and into the goal. With such a gift by their captain, Spain was completely broken.
 It was Michel's Platini's ninth goal of the tournament in five matches. A historic record.
Although France had everything under control, Spain had to try to push forward but to no avail. In the last minute of the match the AS Monaco striker Bruno Bellone got through in a counter-attack and alone with Arconada sealed the victory for France.
France were deserved and uncontested champions of Europe and Michel Platini was the king who would be named world player of the year.

Paris, 27th June 1984, Parc des Princes 
Attendance: 47,368 
Referee: Vojtech Christov (Czechoslovakia) 

France-Spain 2-0 

France: Joel Bats; Jean-François Domergue, Maxime Bossis, Patrick Battiston (Manuel Amoros, 73), Yvon Le Roux, Luis Fernandez, Michel Platini (c), Alain Giresse, Jean Tigana, Bruno Bellone, Bernard Lacombe (Bernard Genghini, 80). Coach: Michel Hidalgo 
Spain: Luis Arconada (c); Santiago Urquiaga, José Antonio Camacho, Ricardo Gallego, Salva (Roberto, 85), Juan Antonio Señor, Victor Muñoz, Julio Alberto Moreno (Manuel Sarabia, 75), Francisco, Santillana, Francisco José Carrasco. Coach: Miguel Muñoz 

1-0 Platini (57) 
2-0 Bellone (90)

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