Dynamo Kyiv Atletico Madrid Lobanovskyi Blokhin

ATLETICO MADRID

v

DYNAMO KYIV

Stade de Gerland, Lyon
2 May 1986

*****

Dynamo Kyiv – 3 (Zavarov, Blokhin, Yevtushenko)
Atletico Madrid – 0

In his two and half decade long reign as the manager of Dynamo Kyiv, in separate stints, Valeriy Lobanovskyi won thirteen league titles and nine domestic Cups. He led USSR to an Olympic bronze medal as well as a Euro final in 1988. He created three great Kyiv sides – two of them won silverware in Europe in the form of UEFA Cup Winners Cup in 1975 and 1986. It was in the latter final that Lobanovskyi’s Dynamo side showcased the greatest attributes of his acclaimed system – mathematical precision of movement, fluid interplay and razor sharp counter attacks. In a lot of ways the 1986 European Cup Winners Cup final against Atletico Madrid was the pinnacle of the Lobanovskyi way of playing football.

Atlético were prosaic. Dinamo Kiev were sheer poetry – UEFA.com

Backdrop

1985 saw one of the greatest tragedies in the history of football during the European Cup final in Heysel, Belgium. As the dust settled rapid action from UEFA arrived as English clubs were banned from all European competitions for five years. This meant that Everton, who had defeated Rapid Vienna to win the title in 1985, were not allowed to defend their title. Ron Atkinson’s Manchester United, Cup Winners Cup semi-finalists in 1983-84 season and 1985 FA Cup winners, was another team which suffered due to the culling and missed out on European football.

Dynamo Kyiv was just coming off a highly successful season after winning their first league-Cup double in more than one decade. Scoring an average of two goals per match the Bilo Syni nicked the league with just two points separating them from Spartak Moscow. Local rival Shakhtar Donetsk was edged out 1-0 in a tight Soviet Cup final as Dynamo sealed the double. Dynamo began the Cup Winners Cup campaign with a stutter, losing the away leg in Utrecht 2-1 and trailing 1-0 with just eight minutes gone in Kyiv. However, they came back strongly, scoring four times before the hour mark to win 5-3 on aggregate. Romanian Universitatea Craiova was an easier obstacle in the second round as Dynamo curved out a win with same aggregate scoreline. Growing in confidence Dynamo made mincemeat of Rapid Vienna, finalists the previous year, winning both legs by 1-4 and 5-1 scorelines. A 3-0 win against fellow Eastern Europeans Dukla Prague in the first leg more or less sealed their passage to the first European final since 1975.

After a difficult period in second half of 1970s and early 1980s Los Colchoneros had resurrected their status as one of the biggest clubs in Spain in 1984/85 season. The investment on a Mexican striker named Hugo Sanchez had finally bore fruit. Sanchez top scored in La Liga with 19 goals as Atletico finished second while his brace in the Copa del Rey final against Athletico Bilbao ensured his club’s first Copa title in over a decade. Sanchez though, had left Atletico for their cross town rivals in 1985/86 season. Atletico suffered likewise, falling to 5th position in the final league table.

Atletico had a difficult first round against former European champions Celtic FC and a narrow away win in Glasgow helped them to progress. Welsh minnows Bangor City was negotiated without any hassles in the second round and it was followed by another strong away performance against Red Star in Belgrade. Atletico defeated German Cup winners Bayer Uerdingen with a 4-2 aggregate score in semi-final. Most interestingly, they had won every single away game in the competition and their record on the road was better than that in Madrid. Under Luis Aragonés Atletico had won an Intercontinental Cup title in 1976 (after European champions Bayern Munich refused to participate) but they were yet to add a European trophy to their cabinet.

The Match

Atletico Madrid: Fillol; Reñones, Arteche, Ruiz; Clemente, Prieto, Ramos, Marina; Cabrera, da Silva, Landáburu

Dynamo Kyiv: Chanov; Bessonov, Baltacha, Kuznetsov, Demyanenko; Yakovenko, Yaremchuk, Rats, Zavarov; Belanov, Blokhin

Any intention that Atletico harboured of easing their way slowly into the match was dashed quickly as the Ukrainians made a blistering start to the game, looking to take an early advantage. And it took just five minutes for them to get their goal. A looping clearance from Ruiz fell for Rats on the left wing. Rat dinked past his first challenger before accelerating past Clemente inside the Atletico box. Once inside, he dissected a triangle of Spanish defenders to pull back a pass for Blokhin. Blokhin’s powerful left footer was saved well by Fillol but Zavarov was following up as he headed the ball past a stranded opposition ‘keeper.

Three minutes later Blokhin found some space for Zavarov who danced past Ruiz but his decision to find a team-mate instead of shooting from a convenient position took out the sting of the move. Atletico’s first chance came on the 10th minute though both Prieto and Marina failed to test the Dynamo ‘keeper from a close range. Dynamo went on to create a hatful of chances in next five minutes but was let down by some poor shooting from their strikers. At the quarter-hour marBlokhink Blokhin missed an absolute sitter as he received a cross from Demyanenko while being completely unmarked at far post. With only Fillol to beat Blokhin failed to generate enough power as his shot was beaten away. Fillol was called into action seconds later as he did just enough to keep Yakovenko’s swinging corner from going into the net.

The traffic was completely one way as Atletico Madrid looked like a deer caught in headlights in front of their opponents incessant offensive forays. Mid-way into first half Zavarov failed to double his tally as he ballooned his shot after getting into opponent penalty box. A minute later a perfectly orchestrated counter attack saw Blokhin’s shot miss out by whiskers. Chanov started the move by throwing towards Demyanenko who took two touches before launching a long pass for Belanov. Belanov held off both Spanish center-backs before rolling a pass for Blokhin who shot wide.

Dynamo seemed to relax a bit after the half hour mark though their opponents failed to threaten Chanov in that period. Minutes before the half-time both Yakovenko and Demyanenko saw their shots rebound of Atletico defenders. The half-time score of 1-0 was highly flattering to Los Colchoneros who barely had a sniff in first 45 minutes.

Second half began with a slight comic relief as a rooster invaded the pitch and expertly evaded half a dozen players before moving out. Aragonés’ half time talk seemed to have worked the charm as Atletico came out a rejuvenated side, creating their first chance within seconds as Marina was denied an opportunity by perfect timing of Chanov. The Atletico striker had yet another chance on 55th minute but his shooting angle was blocked out by Bal. The Dynamo center-back almost gifted an equalizer few minutes later as he fluffed a clearance, giving the ball to Prieto who was a few feet away from the goal. Unfortunately, Prieto failed to control the ball as the chance went begging.

Dynamo’s first serious scoring chance after half-time came on 65th minute as Zavarov danced past two markers before setting up Yakovenko, whose shot forced yet another good save from Fillol. Atletico had their own chance ten minutes later as a cross from Clemente caught Chanov in no-man’s land with substitute Setién closing in on an open goal. This time, Demyanenko showed the worth of his arm-band by making a timely clearance. Minutes later the Dynamo captain was involved in the other side as his header off a Yakovenko cross almost crept in.

Dynamo’s second goal is often considered to be a perfect example of Lobanovsky’s theory. Jonathan Wilson describes it perfectly here, “The second goal in particular, a sweeping counterattack, showed the fluid beauty of the Lobanovskyi machine”. The move started with Demyanenko connecting with Rats’ run along the Dynamo’s left flank. Rats went past two Atletico players before rolling the ball towards Belanov. Belanov took two touches before finding Yevtushenko near Atletico penalty box. Both Belanov and Yevtushenko had chances to shoot, yet staying true to Lobanovsky’s theory none of them took the chance. Instead, the latter connected with Blokhin’s overlap on the far right side as the veteran striker calmly chipped over Fillol.

Yevtushenko added a goal to his assist minutes later as he sprung the Atletico offside trap before rounding off Fillol to score in an empty net.

Dynamo Kyiv repeated the scoreline from the last Cup Winners Cup final they reached eleven years before. They also created a number of records, becoming the only Eastern European club to win two major European trophies. Blokhin had the distinction of scoring in two Cup Winners Cup finals while his club created the unique record of winning both domestic league as well as Cup Winners’ Cup on two occasions.

Click here to read other articles in this series

Tactics

Valeriy Lobanoskyi introduced mathematics and statistics in football like it was never done before. In a lot of ways he was a pioneer in the beautiful game as we know it. Lobanovskyi Tactics Dynamo KyivFor him, football was, as Wilson puts it, “system of 22 elements – two sub-systems of 11 elements – moving within a defined area (the pitch) and subject to a series of restrictions (the laws of the game)”. He would lay down a set of 14 tasks for his defenders and 13 for his defenders, prepared after minute study of opponent team. In a lot of ways this was a propagation of Stalin’s principle of collectivisation in football where the entire unit came before individuals. This was evident in Dynamo’s second goal where two players didn’t shoot on their own, instead choosing to pass to a third team-mate.

Atletico were undone by three components of Dynamo’s game – high pressing, precision of passing and economy of movement. Without ball there would be two to three players pressing their opponents, a slight drop in concentration from any of the Spaniards instantly saw him lose possession. Atletico unlike their opponents relied in individual talents and several and unnecessary attempts of show-boating saw Dynamo players win possession and launch counters. Lobanovskyi’s side was well drilled and players had thorough knowledge of movement of their team-mates, everything was planned and precise. Blokhin, one of the greatest goalscorers of his generation frequently drifted out as an attacking left or right winger, making late runs in the box unmarked. Zavarov, probably the most technically gifted player in the team, operated in the channel between Atletico’s midfield and defence, at times dribbling past two or three players. When going on the offensive the tireless Demyanenko overlapped, increasing the man advantage in midfield which allowed Dynamo to press better.

Atletico did make a comeback in this match, briefly, in second half. Sensing the gap between his defence and midfield and the space Zavarov was enjoying, Aragonés pushed his defensive line higher up the pitch, squeezing out space. For a while it worked as the Spanish side looked more dangerous in first ten minutes of the second half while Dynamo was pushed back. However, Atletico Madrid’s level of fitness was not on the same level with Lobanoskyi’s brilliantly agile side and eventually Los Colchoneros tired defence began to make mistakes in their offside trap – essential when playing a high line. Dynamo Kyiv were trying for large parts of second half to bypass Atletico’s line by using over the top balls and it finally worked like a charm for the third goal.

Man of the Match

Aleksandr Zavarov

One of the most skilful players to have ever emerged from the other side of the Iron Curtain, this final was one of Zavarov’s finest moments. A niggle forced him off the field with 20 minutes left but in those 70 minutes he ran rings around Atletico Madrid defence. Starting in a deeper central midfield position, Zavarov operated as a modern attacking midfielder, constantly making runs into the opponent box. Not only did he score the opening goal but he also squandered chance to clinch a hattrick. He would often take out two to three opponent defenders with his serpentine runs from central midfield.

Aftermath

A year after this final Jesus Gil took over Atletico Madrid and his era would see the club enter into one of its most topsy-turvy and unstable eras. Gil would notoriously go on to fire a series of high profile manager, including Aragonés. Soon after taking over he personally singled out three players who played in the final – Arteche Landáburu, Quique and Setién, terminating their contact unfairly in an ugly incident which was dragged to the court, where the players won. Landáburu was eventually driven to retirement because of his spat with Gil. Aragonés left Atletico in 1987 and would go on to manage a bunch of clubs in Spain including Barcelona and Valencia before capping off his career with Euro 2008 title which kick started an era of domination for the Spanish national team.

Unlike the last time they won the Cup Winners Cup, Dynamo would not go on to win the European Super Cup. Their opponents Steaua Bucharest, who had recently became the first Eastern European club to win the European Cup, had taken a 21 year old Romanian on loan from Sportul Studențesc just for the Super Cup match. That youngster named Gheorghe Hagi would score on 44th minute to decide the match and embark on his way to become one of the greatest players of his generation. Dynamo reached the European Cup semi-final the following after a remarkable 7-0 mauling of Besiktas in quarter-final. However, two quick goals in the return leg from FC Porto meant that the Portuguese club would go on reach, and win, their first European Cup final. Dynamo would add couple of leagues and Cup titles before the Soviet Top League got disbanded in 1992. Lobanovsky assembled another great Dynamo side spearheaded by Andriy Shevchenko in late 1990s but would struggle to hold on to his star players in a world where talents were plucked out of Eastern European clubs fairly quickly. Lobanovsky passed away on 7th May 2002 and in a lot of ways Dynamo are still struggling to come out of his long shadow.