Decade Under the Crossbar – Volume 4

28 05 2010

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A bit of this and a bit of that.  Portuguese and French leagues over the last decade…

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The 76 seasons of Portuguese top-level soccer have been dominated by the “big three”.  Benfica, Porto and Sporting Lisbon have won all but TWO titles.  The only two clubs outside the big three to have won the Portuguese league are Belenenses in the 1945-46 season and Boavista in the 2000-01 season.  Yep we’ll discuss BOAVISTA’s amazing season in just a second.  The break down is Benfica has won 32 titles, Porto has 24, and Sporting has 18.  For the last decade FC Porto has won 6, Benfica and Sporting 2 each, and finally Boavista’s great campaign.  In total only 5 other Portuguese teams have even been runners-up.  YEAH read that shit again – 76 seasons (began in 1934) – only 5 teams have placed second, two of those teams actually won a title.  Lets get this KICKED-OFF.

1999-2000 – Sporting finally wins after a long hiatus.

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The Capital (Lisbon) team.  The proud Green gents with the hearts of a lions.  It is a club renowned for its dominance in all-sports.  The team had been without a title clinching season since 1981-82 and in the late 90’s had a revitalization project to gain back there soccer crown.  In 1996, Sporting began a new lease of life, with José Roquette and others leading Sporting into a period of modernization.  The reshaping of Sporting during this period became known as the “Projecto Roquette” (“Roquette’s Project”), a program of dynamic modernization of the club on three fronts: sports, through the rationalization and optimization of resources; finances, providing the club with multi-functional profitable elements; and finally the modernization of the club’s organization, combining dedication and professionalism in a way that dealt with the present without mortgaging the future of the club.  They finished the season with a 4 point margin of victory – 77 to FC Porto’s 73.  They allowed a league low of 22 goals.  They regained there precious title after 18 years of sorrow.

2000-01 – Boavista makes a little history!!!

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The Panthers gained a lot of respect for there mid-70’s run for the title and if a team has tried to crack the “Big Three” it’d be the “Checkereds” team.

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The miracle part of there tale is they won the league on the second to last week.  In fact Porto won more games this season 24 with 4 draws and 6 losses.  Boavista clinched the title with 23 victories, 8 draws and only 3 losses.  But like Sporting the year before they won the title because of defense – 22 goals allowed all season.

2001-02 – Sporting has a BANNER year by poaching a former Porto staple.

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Meet Brazilian Mario Jardel.  The 2001–02 season proved hugely successful to Jardel — he scored 42 goals in 30 games, and Sporting won both the Portuguese Liga and the Portuguese Cup. He also won the Prize “Player of the Year” by the Portuguese newspaper Record — one of the only two foreign players to achieve this, the other being the Argentinian Lisandro López.  YEP 42 goals!!  He got game for sure.  He loves Portugal as well – he finished his careers with Porto and Sporting having scored more goals then games he played in.  So let me sum that up – he played 4 seasons with Porto for a total of 125 games in which he scored 130 goals.  For Sporting he only had two seasons (Injuries plagued him) but he scored 53 goals in 49 games.  WOW!!  Now this Sporting team would have a young duo that reminded Europeans and eventually the whole world that they have an INCREDIBLE youth system.  Names like Luis Figo come to mind when you think of the Green and White.  But the 2000’s changed the game – along with the modernization they needed to find the future talent.  Meet two members of this title winning team that made the top squad this year.

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You recognize him right?

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Cristiano Ronaldo wasn’t a native of Lisbon but by his teenage years the club swooped him into there youth system.

The other fella isn’t as world renowned, but that didn’t stop me telling ALL my friends that he’d be BIGGER then Ronaldo (yeah I still get shit for that early 2002 prediction!!)

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His name is Ricardo Quaresma – and back in the green and white days he was the real prize out of him and CR.  And I wasn’t the only one that thought this!!!

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1st he went to Barcelona.

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Back to Portugal for FC PORTO.

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That’s Inter Milan’s famous blue/black look.  Yep!

And then he went on loan with…

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That’d be ENGLISH CHAMPS Chelsea, but he’s back in INTER waiting to meet his new coach (Jose is leaving for Real Madrid if you haven’t heard – hmmmmmmm maybe Ricardo can join him – INTERESTING??)

So yeah Sporting won the title by 5 points over Boavista.  With the title victory they would TIE FC PORTO with 18 league titles (second place overall), but it wouldn’t last.

2002-03 – Porto regains second place among the big three and makes history doing it – O YEAH SPEAKING OF JOSE!!!.

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And there once was this fella that one day would be called “The Special One”.  Jose became a head coach in 2000 with Benfica but it didn’t feel right and two years later he’d figure everything out.  2002 saw him lead his FC Porto squad to a third place finish.  After the finish he famously said, “”making Porto champions next year.”.   One year later he’d set the all-time point total in Portuguese Soccer and fulfill his promise.   To accomplish this he would change things up.

He quickly identified several key players whom he saw as the backbone of what he believed would be a perfect Porto team — Vítor Baía, Ricardo Carvalho, Costinha, Deco, Dmitri Alenichev, and Hélder Postiga. He recalled captain Jorge Costa after a six-month loan to Charlton Athletic. The signings from other clubs included Nuno Valente and Derlei from União de Leiria, Paulo Ferreira from Vitória de Setúbal, Pedro Emanuel from Boavista, and Edgaras Jankauskas, and Maniche, who both had been out of contract at Benfica.

In 2003, Mourinho won his first Portuguese Liga with a 27–5–2 record, 11 points clear of Benfica, the team he quit two years earlier. The total of 86 points out of the possible maximum of 102 was a Portuguese record since the rule of three points per win was introduced. Mourinho also won the Portuguese Cup (against former club Leiria) and the UEFA Cup final against Celtic, both in May 2003.  NOT TO BAD JOSE.

2003-2004 – Jose does even more and he brings back a South African to be his STAR.

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Benni Mccarthy is a South African striker that was loaned to struggling FC Porto in the 2001–02 season where he soon rediscovered the form that took him to Europe.  He helped them to third place in the league and automatic qualification for the UEFA Cup by scoring an impressive 12 goals in only 11 matches, but Porto’s finances did not allow them to keep the player, despite the desire of both sides to continue.  So, in 2002–03 Mccarthy returned to Celta Vigo where he spent a lot of time on the bench as squad player while Porto captured the League Cup in Portugal and the UEFA Cup. When former teammate Hélder Postiga was sold to English side Tottenham Hotspur in the 2003–04 season, Porto finally acquired the funds to buy McCarthy for a sum of €3.5 M.  He grabbed the Golden Boot award (with 20 goals in 23 games) on the final day with a terrific hat-trick, and was instrumental in Porto‘s superb run in the 2004 UEFA Champions League, which they won. Notably, he was responsible for scoring two goals against Manchester United to defeat them in the second round.  (I remember that day – bittersweet to see him destroy my favorite team but he was South African so I thought awww my parents homeland…memories!).  Benni would take home the scoring title this season and his teammate Deco (yeah that Deco) took home player of the year.   Jose would leave the club for Chelsea, taking Deco with him.

2004-05 – The Old Big Member of the Big Three – swoops in the moment Jose leaves Porto for England.

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Benfica was one of the founding members of the Portuguese Liga in 1933, and, together with Porto and Sporting, they have never been relegated from the First Division of Portuguese football.  After many dismal years in the 90’s and early 00’s things would change for the better.  In 2004, the club regained some of its sporting prowess, with a new president and the manager José Antonio Camacho, winning the first title in eight years (the Portuguese Cup, won against José Mourinho‘s Porto in the final), and in 2004–05, the first national championship in 11 years, this time with Giovanni Trapattoni as coach — in an odd season in which the top club had the least amount of points ever and an efficiency (63.7% of points obtainable) that historically would never have been enough to secure even second place.  Not as long as a drought of Sporting but when you already have 30 titles to your name your winning ways are more expected.  The team didn’t even have the Player of the Year (our boy Quaresma) and Top Scorer (Sporting’s stud Liedson).

2005-2009 – YEP the next four years belonged to FC PORTO.  Though Sporting tried there damnedest (second all four years!)

Quaresma would win his second successive Player of the Year award.  Amazingly Porto’s top goal-scorer was Lucho Gonzalez who netted 10 times.  They beat Sporting by 7 points.

Right after the World Cup – Porto got back to winning the title this time it’d be the closest of there eventual four-peat.   Benfica (3rd place) and Sporting (2nd place) had less losses (3 for Benfica and only 2 for Sporting) then Porto’s 5.  But Porto had two more victories (22 total) and had a three headed scoring monster.  Argentinian Gonzalez (9 goals), Portuguese Helder Postiga (10 goals) and Brazilian Adriano (11 goals) proved to talented for the rest of the league.  This mirrored the final point totals – FC Porto won the league with 69 pts, one more then Sporting’s 68 and two more then Benfica’s 67.  OUCH!!

The next season Porto actually looked like the bad asses they are.  The Player of the year was also the scoring champ and he played for Porto.  Argentinian Lisandro Lopez netted 24 goals in 27 games.  Porto won the league with 69 points – Second place sporting only had 55.  But the season is most remembered for an * – you see Porto won 24 games, 3 draws and only 3 losses which should equal (=) 75 points. *Porto were deducted 6 points due to alleged attempted bribery of referees in the 2003-04 season.  They’ve appealed, but the league keeps the * up and it remains only 69 points (Barry Bonds aint the only * in recent years).

Porto would take home their amazing fourth title with three Argentinians and a Green Super Hero (sorta) leading the way.  Lucho, Lisandro and Ernsesto Farias led the team in goals (10 for Farias and Lisandro and 9 for Lucho).  The other member of the goal-scoring club (8 goals tied for 9th in the league) has an interesting name.

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Hey don’t make him mad – his name is…HULK.  Yep that’s his name, Hulk.

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2009-2010 – The old kings regain the title after Porto’s amazing run.

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Mighty Benfica only lossed twice all season only allowed 20 goals.  They were tied for least amount of goals allowed by the second place team (shocker) Sporting de Braga (there greatest finish ever).  I keep up with Braga for one specific reason – Eli Zizov.

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Meet the 19 year-old Israeli (yeah shouting out to the homeland ROCKS!!) who has been compared to a young Leo Messi (a lot to live up to – but remember the name!!).

We now skip over Leo Messi and Spain so we can meet the French!!

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Like the Portuguese the French Ligue has been around for 70 plus years.  This decade has been all about 1 club.

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We’ll get to the incredible run that Lyon put on during this decade.  But our journey begins in a City that actually isn’t part of France.  AS Monaco.

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The club is the only team within the French football system not based in France itself, being based in the sovereign principality of Monaco.  Monaco is the second smallest country in the world; only the Vatican City is smaller.

1999-2000 – The Rich get Richer.

AS Monaco won there 7th overall title tying them (at that time) with Nantes for 3rd on the all-time list.  Saint-Étienne is the all-time leader with 10 titles and until this season had been the only top team, Marseille is now tied with them after winning their 10th title this season.  Monaco has kept itself strong since there first title in the early 60’s.  They have one at least one title in each of the decades since then.  Long-time Monaco player Claude Puel (second all-time for games played) became manager in 99′ and took his star-studded club to victory a year later.  They easily won the ligue with a 7 point margin over Paris Saint-Germain.  The team finished with the #2 and #3 top goal-scorers that year – Young David Trezeguet (he’d leave for Juventus at the end of the season) netted 22 goals and Italian Marco Simone netted 21.  They were led though by a superb midfield that included Ludovic Giuly and Argentinian Marcelo Gallardo.  Marcelo was named French League Footballer of the Year this season.  The defense was anchored by Mexican Rafael Marquez who is now with Barca.

2000-01 – Nantes wins their 8th total title .

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FC Nantes, like Monaco, has won at least one title in every decade since the 60’s.

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Raynald Denoueix parlayed a long playing career and youth coaching career with Nantes all the way to the top.  He had a unique group along to win the title.  Mid Éric Carrière carried the bulk of the playmaking duties and he was the main spot kick taker.  His diminutive midfield partner was Oliver Monterrubio gave the offensive spark as he lead the team with 12 goals.  The main man up-top was Romanian Viorel Dinu Moldovan who netted 11 goals.  The team was anchored though by its Goalie.

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Mickael Landreau is one of the better goalies over the last 15 years.  He left Nantes in 06′ after compiling 335 games.

2001 – 2008 – The Reign of Lyon!!!

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Olympique Lyonnais started a national record-breaking streak of seven successive titles.  This first title was there first EVER!!!

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Jacques Santini is one of the most accomplished football managers – coach in France. Together with Jean Michel Aulas and Bernard Lacombe he was involved in the transformation of Lyon into a French football giant. From 1997 to 2000 he was Sports’ director, helping lay the foundation which resulted in Lyon becoming the best football club in France.  Paul Le Guen would take over next season and led the team to its next three titles.  Under Le Guen talents like Juninho, Sylvain Wiltord, Sidney Govou, Florent Malouda and Gregory Coupet would come into there own.  Paul would surprisingly leave the club in 2005.  He would be replaced by Gerard Houllier who would bring a bit of a bigger name and pedigree.  Gerard had tried to turn Liverpool back into England’s top team.  Despite his great eye for young talent his 5 year plan ended with no Premier titles (though did bring home a cup treble in 01′).  Jean Michel Aulas brought in Gerard to bring home European glory on top of domestic success.  Houllier would continue winning domestically, but like in England couldn’t pull off full success.  Gerard and Jean Michel’s relationship started to dwindle and ended on a sour note.  An official statement on Lyon’s website stated that Houllier asked to be released from the last season of his contract and that request was granted by the president.  Alain Perrin would come in win another title and the French Cup and then he exited after one season (wow!).  With Alain the reign of titles ended.  During the seven year stretch. Lyon notably signed players such as Michael Essien, Florent Malouda, Éric Abidal, Sébastien Squillaci, Kim Källström, and Jérémy Toulalan. Only three players were part of all seven title championship seasons. The longest tenured Goalie in Lyon History, Gregory Coupet (518 appearances – 2nd all-time and still active with PSG).

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Brazilian Juninho wore the captain’s armband since Gerard was manager and his most infamous for his amazing free-kicks.  In his 250 appearances with the club he netted 75 goals.  44 of those 75 came from dead-ball free-kicks.  Yeah he’s a bad ass.  Amazingly he left Lyon in 09′.  Lyon chairman Jean Michel Aulas explained to the media that the club and Juninho agreed to cancel the last year of his contract. During the press conference, Juninho was sitting next to Aulas and left the press conference without saying a word.

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He was replaced as captain by the third member of the all 7 club.   He’d actually been at the club longer then Juninho but the Brazilian was a more vocal presence.  Meet Sidney Govou.

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Sidney is the perfect example of a Lyon man through and thru (see what i just did – funny?).  In 1996 he joined the Olympique Lyon’s youth academy at the age of 17.  Loyal to his first and only club Govou has played at the Stade Gerland for his entire professional career.  292 appearances and 49 goals so far for Mr. Lyon.

The Reign ended with Les marine et blanc which means “The Navy and White”.

2008-09 – FC Girondins de Bordeaux.

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Bordeaux became champions for the sixth time on the penultimate weekend of the season.  Bordeaux clinched the title on 30 May 2009 after the 1–0 victory against Caen.  Amazingly they only had one member of the team win a major award.  Yoann Gourcuff was named Player of the Year as a loaned out player (AC Milan finally gave full rights to Bordeaux this next season).  His performances during the 2008–09 season later earned him a nomination by the French magazine France Football for the 2009 Ballon d’Or award, won by Lionel Messi with Gourcuff finishing in 20th place with 6 points.

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He was named to the Ligue 1 first team.  He was joined by only one teammate, Senegalese Defender Souleymane Diawara.  Even awesome coach Laurent Blanc didn’t take home manager of the year (Eric Gerets of Marseille).

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For you fellow Man U fans here’s a bit of a more memorable picture.

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2009-10 – Olympique de Marseille lifts the trophy in over a decade.

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“Straight to the Goal” is what Droit Au But mean by the way.   The title this season tied them with Saint Etienne for overall lead in titles with 10.  Marseilles also have the record in Coupe de France titles (with 10).  They were also the first French club to win the UEFA Champions League, in 1993.  Though that glory has been scarred by a Scandal.  This scandal, called l’affaire VA-OM (VA for Union Sportive Valenciennes-Anzin and OM for Olympique de Marseille), was denounced by Valenciennes, whose players Jacques Glassmann, Jorge Burruchaga, and Christophe Robert were contacted by Marseille player Jean-Jacques Eydelie, in order to let OM win and, more importantly, not to injure any OM player ahead of the final.  They suffered forced relegation to the second division, where Marseille stayed two years before coming back to First Division. Moreover, they lost their 1992–93 Division 1 title and the right to play in the UEFA Champions League 1993-94 , the 1993 European Super Cup and the 1993 Intercontinental Cup.  It took them almost two decades to fully recover.  Marseille won the 2010 Coupe de la Ligue Final beating Bordeaux 3–1 at the Stade de France in March 2010. This was their first major title since their Champions League triumph 17 years previously. Two months later, Marseille won their first league title for 18 years with two games to spare after beating Rennes 3–1.  Senegalese striker Mamadou Niang was the Ligue 1 top goal-scorer with 18 total.

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He barely lost out for Player of the Year to Lisandro Lopez of Lyon.  There stud Goalie Steve Mandanda also came up empty handed for Goalie of the Year.

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And even there coach Didier Deschamps lost out on Manager of the Year.   Didier a legendary Defensive Midfielder in his own right has been a stellar manager.  Didier is adored in Marseille not only for his managerial skills, but he was part of the Champions League team in 93′.

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I hope you’ve enjoy Volume 4.  Tune in next week for Volume 5 – Italy.

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