Football: Real must carry burden of history

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The Independent Online
Tonight's enticing European Cup final will hope to echo a golden era. Glenn Moore reports from Amsterdam

remember the match, but all will know the legend. Glasgow, 1960, and 11 figures in white playing like angels, their silky movement defeating even the staccato nature of contemporary film as they glided across the turf, bewildering and bewitching the mortals of Eintracht Frankfurt.

It was the greatest of all European Cup finals, captivating 135,000 at Hampden Park and millions more beyond. Thirty-eight years later the memory continues to both inspire and handicap Real Madrid.

That 1960 success was Madrid's fifth in five years of a then-embryonic competition. But they have won it only once more, in 1966. In the intervening years they have reached just one final, in 1981, when they lost to Liverpool and a rare goal from Alan Kennedy.

Now, as then, the successors to Di Stefano, Gento, Kopa and Puskas must defeat the masters of the present if they are to emulate the magicians of the past. Juventus, winners in 1996 and runners-up last season, stand in Madrid's way as they attempt to consummate the quest which has dragged them to the verge of bankruptcy - so desperate are the club to recapture former glories that they now stand around pounds 70m in debt.

It is the classic final. A match like this, capturing the imagination of sponsors, television companies and football romantics alike, is the raison d'etre behind the formation of the Champions' League.

Juventus start clear favourites, a view supported by both Alex Ferguson and Terry Venables. "They are well pumped up for it. They have been far more consistent this season," said Ferguson, whose Manchester United side came within five minutes of putting them out.

"Juventus will win, they are the better side," added Venables. "I don't think Real have enough to offer." Both managers picked out Alessandro del Piero as the likely matchwinner. The Juventus forward reserves his best for a competition in which he already holds the scoring record. Alongside him is Filippo Inzaghi, with whom he has shared 60 goals this season. Behind is the outstanding French playmaker Zinedine Zidane, his more prosaic but still valuable compatriot Didier Deschamps, and Edgar Davids, a 1995 winner with Ajax.

Real also have their strength in attack, with Raul, Fernando Morientes and Yugoslavia's Predrag Mijatovic, keeping Davor Suker on the bench. They are supported by an impressive midfield - Christian Karembeu, Clarence Seedorf and Fernando Redondo - backed by the wondrous left foot of Roberto Carlos.

The doubts are about Madrid's defensive organisation and morale. They have not won away since November and the coach, the German Jupp Heynckes, is being pushed towards the door after just one year. In their league, they trailed in fourth, behind their bitter rivals, Barcelona.

Real may thus bring in the veteran Sanchis and play three, rather than the customary four, at the back, with Christian Panucci and Roberto Carlos pushing forward. Juventus could adopt a similar formation to counter Real's flying full-backs. Given the stakes both Heynckes and Marcello Lippi may, however, decide to stick with their tried-and-tested back fours.

Juventus, having already qualified for next year's competition after winning the Serie A title, will be more relaxed though they, too, have a motivation: last year's surprise defeat by Borussia Dortmund.

The only other Amsterdam Champions' Cup final was in the old Olympic stadium, in 1962, when Benfica beat Real Madrid 5-3. Madrid may well return home empty-handed again - except for the haunting company of the ghosts of the past.

Juventus (probable; 4-3-1-2): Peruzzi; Torricelli, Montero, Iuliano, Birindelli; Di Livio, Deschamps, Davids; Zidane; Inzaghi, Del Piero

Real Madrid (probable; 4-3-1-2): Illgner; Panucci, Hierro, Sanz, Roberto Carlos; Karembeu, Seedorf, Redondo; Raul; Morientes, Mijatovic.

Referee: H Krug (Germany).

Fabio Capello has been sacked as the coach of Milan, after a meeting late on Monday with the club's owner, Silvio Berlusconi. Milan finished the season in 10th pl

The dream final line-up

Juventus

1 Angelo Peruzzi (Country: Italy, age: 28, 22 caps) Ball-boy in Rome when Liverpool won 1984 final against Roma on penalties. Italy's No 1.

3 Moreno Torricelli (Italy, 28, 5) Attacking defender. Long mane makes him instantly recognizable.

4 Paolo Montero (Uruguay, 26, 26) Only the second Uruguayan to play for Juve, and the first since 1942, has been joined by three compatriots.

13 Mark Iuliano (Italy, 24, 0) Likely replacement for Ciro Ferrara, he prefers to wear "Juliano" on shirt.

15 Alessandro Birindelli (Italy, 23, 0) Quick and versatile defender signed from Empoli in summer.

7 Angelo di Livio (Italy, 31, 20) Sent off against England in Rome for foul on Sol Campbell after being booked. Nicknamed the "Little Soldier".

14 Didier Deschamps (France, 29, 67) French captain once derided as a water-carrier by Eric Cantona. Workmanlike but talented.

26 Edgar Davids (Netherlands, 25, 9) Signed for pounds 3.4m from Milan in mid-season. His response: "Milan made a big error when they sold me".

21 Zinedine Zidane (France, 25, 31) Rated best midfielder in Europe by Alex Ferguson. Shown tendency to tire.

9 Filippo Inzaghi (Italy, 24, 4) Repaid pounds 9m fee with 27 goals so far. Can be lazy but a born poacher. Age 24.

10 Alessandro del Piero (Italy, 23, 19) Ten goals in this season's Champions' Cup alone. "Golden Boy" has seen off Baggio, Vialli and Boksic.

Real Madrid

25 Bodo Illgner (Country: Germany, age: 31, 54 caps) Signed from Cologne because of his height in 1996.

17 Christian Panucci (Italy, 25, 7) Athletic attacking defender. Member of Milan's 1994 European Cup team.

4 Fernando Hierro (Spain, 30, 55) Captain who began season with freak injury after putting foot through a manhole cover escaping paparazzi.

19 Fernando Sanz (Spain, 24, 0) Son of the president gradually winning over fans - applauded off after being dismissed against Real Betis.

3 Roberto Carlos (Brazil, 25, 25) Brazilian owner of most awesome left- foot in football - deadly at free-kicks.

22 Christian Karembeu (France, 27, 30) New Caledonian born, he made high- profile protest against French nuclear tests in Pacific.

10 Clarence Seedorf (Netherlands, 22, 25) Born in Surinam, achieved fame at Ajax and initial riches at Sampdoria. Attacking role under Heynckes.

6 Fernando Redondo (Argentina, 28, 24) Long-running row over length of his hair may cost him World Cup place.

7 Raul (Spain, 20, 12) Spain's answer to Michael Owen and David Beckham rolled into one. Led to team being tagged "Raul Madrid".

15 Fernando Morientes (Spain, 22, 1) Two goals in the opening five minutes on his international debut.

8 Predrag Mijatovic (Yugoslavia, 29, 36) Struggling to match 1995-96 season though scored six in country's 7-1 World Cup play-off win over Hungary.

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