Let’s Look Back at the Euros – Euro ’84 (France)

1984 rolled around not quite looking like the dystopian future imagined by George Orwell and the European Championships ready to go again. Hooliganism was still a blight on the game but a very Eurocentric World Cup in Spain in 1982 saw Italy win a memorable title coming back from the dead and knocking off a despised West German side. West Germany applied to host the tournament but UEFA chose France with the latter having the stadia and less of a problem with crowds. The format was tweaked with eight clubs playing in two groups of four. After a round robin in each group the top two would go on to the semi finals and then the final. The unpopular third place play off had been scrapped.

MASCOT IMAGE

 

THE QUALIFYING

In qualifying to find out which seven countries would join France it was Northern Ireland who had been an amazing surprise in the World Cup and almost made it to the Euros. With the country still mired in The Troubles they had hope for some happiness through their tremendous squad and went head to head with the powerful West German side and even won in Hamburg in a pivotal qualifying game. With a bye in the final around of games Northern Ireland needed West Germany to lose to Albania which wasn’t expected in any way but Albania led until 10 minutes left where West Germany snuck a goal and after a tremendous qualifying battle the green and white army would not be going to France on goal difference.

The Soviets missed out for a third time in a row showing they were nowhere near the dominant side of the early years of the competition. England also missed out after being shocked by a Danish side that won at Wembley late in qualifying to hang on to top spot. Bobby Robson had failed in his first test as England manager. Yugoslavia was back after missing out in 1980 while the World Champs Italy didn’t deal with a heap of retirements well and had a horrible qualifying campaign finishing second last in their group and only winning one game. Romania topped their group. The Dutch missed out again and like Northern Ireland had goal difference to blame.

France was ready for the tournament and even introduced legislation that allowed anyone arrested for football related violence to be deported on the same day to deter any troublemakers. They also unveiled their mascot who was a white cockeral. Peno’ wore the French strip and also wore gloves. Obviously a keeper or perhaps a bit of a Disney rip off. On the pitch this French side was probably best ever assembled with the midfield of Luis Fernandez, Alain Giresse, Jean Tigana and Michel Plantini nicknamed ‘Le Carre Magique’ or ‘The Magic square’. Platini was at the peak of his powers captaining the side and in the middle of his hat trick of Ballon D’or (European footballer of the year) wins. After the way they were robbed in the World Cup in 1982 and hosting this tournament they were certain this would be their time.

Belgium team photo

 

 

THE GROUP STAGE

In GROUP A the hosts would be joined by surprise packet Denmark, 1980 finalists Belgium and Yugoslavia. In the opening game of the tournament France were tentative and let the Danes almost snatch it even though they had been robbed of spiritual leader and Danish footballing pioneer Allan Simonsen in the first half with a broken leg. Trickery from Tigana and some fantastic opportunism from Platini to slam a loose ball home saw France win it 1-0. In the other game Belgium kept their momentum from 1980 going by beating Yugoslavia 2-0.

In the second lot of games France showed how poweful they could be blowing Belgium off the park 5-0 thanks to a Platini hat trick. The hat trick also one of the rare ‘perfect’ hattricks seen at this level with one goal scored on the left foot, one on the right and one with the head. Denmark eliminated Yugoslavia with their own 5-0 demolition which also put France through. In the final lot of games Yugoslavia kept France honest going ahead in the first half thanks to one of the runs and goals of the tournament from Milos Sestic. Again though Platini showed why he was one of the best scoring from a tight angle to equalise and then putting the French head with a brilliant diving header before confirming another hattrick with a wonderful free kick. This hat trick was also ‘perfect’. A late penalty to Yugoslavia made it interesting but the French went through to the semi finals with a 100% record.

In the decisive other game to finish off the group the Danes only needed a draw but were going about it the wrong way against that wonderful Belgium side being 2-0 down in the first half. The second of Belgium’s goals by Velcauteren was something for any highlight reel and similar to Vardy’s wondergoal against Liverpool earlier in 2016. A penalty near half time pulled it back to 2-1 before an inspired sub had Denmark back on top with Larsen coming straight off the bench to equalise. With Belgium needing a goal to go through they went on the attack but forgot to actually defend letting Denmark score a late winner and confirm their amazing achievement of making the semi finals. The one thing Belgium did have going their way in this tournament was their amazing strip that looked like something Nan had knitted at the CWA (see above).

In GROUP B the champions and tournament ‘black hats’ West Germany were in a group with a decent Spanish side, riding roughshod Portugal and surprise packet Romania. The champions struggled initially with a 0-0 draw against Portugal which saw violence off the field that resulted in a heap of German hooligans being deported that same day in the first example of the stringent laws France had for football violence. This would be the only incident during the whole tournament. In the other opening game the Romanians did very well holding Spain to a draw.

In the second round of games West Germany again looked suspect going 1-0 down to Romania before mounting a comeback and sneaking through 2-1 thanks to the young up and comer Rudi Voller. In the Iberian derby (the first at a major tournament) both Spain and Portugal couldn’t afford a loss but Portugal were the better side leading 1-0 after 52 minutes through Sousa and then hitting the crossbar late in the match. This would come back to haunt them with Real Madrid legend Santillana equalising and eeking out a 1-1 draw for Spain.

In the final lot of games for Group B all West Germany had to do was draw and they would be through to the semi finals. The West Germans had been here many times and knew what team to put out. Efficient as ever, the champions played uninspiring but effective defensive football that sometimes caught out Spain when they lapsed with two chances hitting the woodwork. Spain were just hanging on but were in luck just before half time when they won a suspect penalty. Harald Schumacher, the hate figure from the 1982 World Cup, was again a heartbreaker saving the penalty. With seconds to go in the match it was still 0-0 before Spain collected the ball and went on one final attack. Senor’ found a millisecond to get a cross in that was in the perfect place where Schumacher and his defenders didn’t know whether to clear or let the keeper take the ball. In that moment’s hesitation defender Antonio Maceda times his run perfectly and headed in a goal.

West Germany had no time to respond and were amazingly out of the competition with a late goal to Nene’ giving Portugal a win against Romania to get them through. Schadenfreude indeed.

UEFA European Cup photos 1984

 

 

THE SEMI FINALS

The first semi final would be played at the magnificent Stade de Velodrome in Marseille between France and Portugal with the host country heavy favourites. This Portuguese side were the oldest team by average in the tournament and were defensive beyond all means so fancied themselves as being able to shut down the flamboyant French. After 24 minutes Platini didn’t score for France but was involved the goal, the free kick brilliant from defender Jean-Francis Domergue to make it 1-0. France were well on top but couldn’t find that second goal to kill off Portugal and were made to pay. With 16 minutes to go the defence stood off and a cross from the left was perfect for the little full back Rui Jordao to make it 1-1. France were stunned. Extra time it would be.

Extra time saw a resolute Portuguese defence again keeping the French at bay and eight minutes in to the extra time trickery from the right saw an opportunity arise and a cross was lashed in by Rui Jordao again to Portugal up 2-1 and shock the home crowd in to silence. Had this brilliant French side blown it? In the second half of extra time French needed a moment of inspiration from one of their star players with both teams dead on their feet. With six minutes to go in extra time Platini collected the ball on the edge of the penalty area surround by a bevvy of defenders he twisted and turned trying to get a shot away but was completely muzzled. His hit and hope shot was blocked but thankfully the loose ball found Domergue who got a toe to the ball in the split second he had to react and it was a goal. 2-2 and the velodrome in raptures on the Mediterranean coast.

Penalties were coming with a goal not seeming to eventuate for either side but Platini, again, rose to occasion With moments left Tigana ran at the Portuguese defence being forced out to the right but managed to square the ball which went through the legs of the Portuguese defenders. The ball somehow found its way to Plantini who had to composure to control the ball and hit it home and win the game for the French. Tears from sets of players for different reasons and if the velodrome had a roof it would have been lifted off. An amazing win for France and they were in to the final.

In the other semi final Denmark were up 1-0 early in the game against Spain thanks to Lerby scoring after the Spanish keeper couldn’t make a decent save from a header. The Danes controlled a lot of the play before Spain equalised halfway through the second half through Maceda who scored from the edge of the penalty area after some sloppy defending from the Danes. After extra time and a red card to Denmark the game would go to penalties for the second time in the history of the competition. Both sides traded penalties until it came to fifth and final spot kicks. Preben Eljaer, a notorious chain smoker and legendary striker for Denmark and Hellas Verona in Italy sent his shot way over which left Spain to only score their penalty to make the final. Sarabia didn’t make a mistake and Spain would face France in the final. The brave Danes’ run had finally come to an end.

France football team, 1984

 

 

THE FINAL

France were warm favourites for the game that would be played at the Parc des Princes which had hosted the first final in 1960. France were jittery early in a game which was scrappy and frustrating at best. The Spanish side was absorbing all the pressure and took the crowd out of the game. 0-0 at half time. Nerves aplenty.

In the second half it seemed as though the Spanish were happy to hold the French at bay and not really go for the win any time soon. After playing 120 minutes 24 hours after the French had done the same it started to tell with the Spanish fitness and late tackles and mistimed passes put the French back on top. After a tired tackle resulted in a free kick just outside the penalty area Platini donned his cometh the moment cometh man hat. Platini sent a right footed shot past the wall but the keeper got down and low and stopped the ball yet somehow let it squeeze underneath him and in to the back of the net. An ugly unfortunate goal from an error but it was a goal to the French. 1-0.

The Spanish had to attack now but the French knew how to play this out keeping hold of the ball and the famous midfield merciless but still couldn’t find that killer blow. In the final minutes the blow finally came and the French could relax. Tigana was again wonderful on the wing with a brilliant pass putting Bruno Bellone through who scored. The final couple of minutes could be enjoyed in Paris. Les Blues were finally going to have a trophy with this 2-0 Euro 1984 Final result.

France were champions after so many years of disappointment at international level which was baffling considering Frenchmen had been behind the creation of the World Cup and the Euros. This win also softened the blow of two World Cup semi final defeats on either side of this triumph, the only blot on a tremendous team. The tournament as a whole was also a wonderful achievement and a complete opposite to the generally benign 1980 event in Italy marred by poor football and poor fan behaviour. The French had organised an efficient and tremendous tournament that managed to keep the violence out, the stands filled with a party atmosphere and the football was exciting as it was dramatic serving as a precursor to the fantastic tournaments to follow. If Euro 2016 in France is even half as good as this tournament was then we are in for a late night/early morning treat on our TV screens.

 

 

 

CHAMPIONS – France (1st Title)

RUNNER UP – Spain

GOLDEN BOOT – Michel Platini. 7 Goals. The French master was at this devastating best with every goal pivotal to French success. Like Maradona in 1986 or Cryuff in 1974 just to name a few the team was built around him in a tournament that he later said was the only one he was ever fully fit in. He also scored two perfect hat tricks (one with left foot, one with right and one with head) and was captain of the team. A performance for the ages with no one ever equaling this goal scoring record since. It’s a shame that he is now known just as much for his corrupt dealings and subsequent ban as UEFA President as he was as one of the greats of world football.

SACRED COW – Jean Tigana. It would be easy to put Platini in here again but the Bordeaux midfielder Tigana was always an Oats to Platini’s Hall in this side. Tigana burst of pace and sublime skill had defence at sixes and sevens and helped with the flow of the side. His run to set up Platini to score the winner in the semi final was also inspiring. A name should never be forgotten when remembering this side.

DUNCE HATS – West Germany was a giant in the sport for this tournament along with being champions. Adding even more talent to the young team from 1980 they were favourites with France but completely messed it up in the final group losing late on to Spain and having the other result go against them. No one shed a tear for them though after their unsporting efforts in Spain during the 1982 World Cup.

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About Dennis Gedling

RTR FM Presenter. Glory Guerrillas Producer and Co-Host. Contributer to Football Nation Radio and Football West. Worships at the feet of the mighty Cats, Socceroos, Matildas, West Perth, Glory and Glasgow's Green and White most of the time.

Comments

  1. E.regnans says:

    Thanks for this Dennis.

    Who’s your top 4 for Euro2016?

  2. Dennis Gedling says:

    Germany, France and then any one of 12 sides. It’s always a very even competition hopefully is coming across in these vignettes. Here’s hoping that isn’t ruined by the amount of teams going from 16 to 24.

  3. Peter Fuller says:

    Dennis,
    There is of course no reason to equate genius on the football field with propriety, yet we constantly hope that someone as gifted as Platini will conduct himself in upright fashion. When he is identifiably engaged in the sort of UEFA/FIFA corruption, we have a palpable sense of betrayal.

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