Thursday, October 15, 2009
The Denmark National team of the mid-80s was one of the teams that defined the way I see football. I was 11 during the 1986 World Cup, when they played some of the best football I had ever seen and were easily the best team of the tournaments opening phase. I was aware of how good they were - they had pulverized Ireland 4-1 at Lansdowne Road in a group game and been a mite unlucky to go out of Euro 84 in the semis to a decent Spanish side (who would again prove their undoing in Mexico in 86).
But watching them destroy Uruguay (6-1!) and West Germany in the so-called 'Group of Death' was a different experience entirely. They had some amazing players - Laudrup, Elkjaer, Olsen, Olsen, Lerby, Arnesen, Molby - and they played a sort of 'total football' of a type I'd never seen before. They also had a magnificent kit, which was no small thing to an 11 year old football fan. And my club, Manchester United, soon had two Danish internationals on its books - Jesper Olsen and John Sivebaek. i wished it was Laudrup - my favourite player in the world after Maradona - but they weren't bad substitutes.
The legacy that team has had in my view of football is probably evident in the fact that I've written two profiles of players from its ranks on this blog - Laudrup and Molby.
I'm not alone in my fondness for this particular team. As this exceptional Guardian piece reports at some length, they came surprisingly high in World Soccer's list of the Greatest Ever Team, and if you grew up in that era and had any interest in International football, i guarantee you will remember them well too. So; please read the piece, follow every link (there are some awesome youtube clips at the end of many, especially the Elkjaer footage) and enjoy, then go here for access to streaming prints of all the official FIFA films up until 1986, and HERO, which features that Danish side quite prominently.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Martin Palermo, Boca legend, infamous taker of three missed penalties in a single game, ludicrously consistent goalscorer, nicknamed "el Loco", currently not speaking to fellow Boca teammate/legend Juan Roman Riquelme and expected to lead the line for Argentina in this weekend's crucial World Cup qualifier against Peru despite never having really made it at International level, scored the winning goal for Boca against champons Velez Sarsfeld at la Bombonera last night. With a header. Pelermo is good with his head, so that isn't a surprise, perhaps. But this was from 40 yards, literally: