Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Dutch-German rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona








       In the early 1970's, Barcelona became a "Dutch club" when they signed Rinus Michel, Johan Cruyff and Johan Neeskens. Real Madrid responded by going "German". Gunter Netzer joined Real Madrid in 1973 shortly after Cruyff signed for Barcelona. A year later, Paul Breitner arrived from Bayern Munich on the same summer that Neeskens went to Barcelona. Breitner was considered one of the most controversial transfers in football history. He was a Maoist while Franco was still alive in 1974. In 1976, Real Madrid signed Henning Jensen, a Dane playing for Borussia Mönchengladback, and then, Uli Stielike a year later, also from the same club.
      This Dutch-German rivalry in La Liga lasted from 1973 to 1979. In Cruyff's first season, Barcelona won La Liga, their first title since 1960.  However,that was Barcelona's only La Liga title(1972-73) during this period.  They also won a single Copa del Rey 1977-78. Meanwhile, Real Madrid won 4 out of the 6 league titles. They also won two Copa del Reys.  Holland played against West Germany in the Final of World Cup 1974. Cruyff, as most of you probably knew, was a star of that WC Finals. Netzer, however, lost his place to Wolfgang Overath.

      After Neeskens left Barcelona in 1979, Barcelona actually looked at the Bundesliga for players. They bought Allan Simonsen, a Danish teammate of Jensen and Stielike from Borussia Mönchengladback in 1979. A year later, they signed Bernd Schuster


Breitner vs Cruyff, Camacho looked on
Netzer and Cruyff

     
      The Dutch legacy would continue in Barcelona. Johan Cruyff returned to Barcelona as the manager in 1988.  He  won the first ever European Cup for Barcelona in 1992 with his "Dream Team".  Ronald Koeman scored the winning goal at Wembley that night.  Louis van Gaal also had two spells as Barcelona's manager from the late 1990's until 2003.  Under him, Barcelona was loaded with Dutch players.  Ruud Hesp, Patrick Kluivert, Philip Cocu, Michael Reiziger, Winston BogardeRonald de Boer, Frank de Boer, Boudewijn Zenden, Marc Overmars and Giovanni van Bronckhorst all played for Barcelona during or between his two spells.  Frank Rijkaard took over in 2003 and he brought Edgar Davids to the club in 2004 and Mark van Bommel in 2005.


Robben and Sneijder
      Meanwhile, Real Madrid's German connection did not expand after the 1970's.   Bernd Schuster joined from Barcelona in 1988 and Bodo Illgner came in 1996.  Real Madrid had no other German players until Mesut Özil and Sami Khedira joined in 2010, and Toni Kroos in 2014.  Schuster's transfer was controversial, but it was not the same epic proportion of the transfer of Luis Figo in 2000.  Illgner would win a Champions' League trophy in 1998.  In fact, Real Madrid bought a lot of Dutch players between 2007 and 2009 when Schuster became the manager.  Royston Drenthe, Arjen Robben, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Rafael van der Vaart  joined the club in that period.  Schuster only signed a single German, Christopher Metzelder. On the other hand, Rijkaard was managing Barcelona at the same time.  He only had Van Bommel on his team(Davids was on half a season loan deal).






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