The initial interest to the inaugural UEFA European Championships (then called European Cup of Nations) in 1960 had been somewhat lukewarm.
By its second Edition to be held in 1964, there was a growing interest from most European Nations to take part.
In fact virtually most European Nations took part including the likes of Italy and England, who had ignored the first one.
However, the main holdout for this second Edition was West Germany.
West Germany at the behest of Manager Sepp Herberger had decided against participating in any Official Competitions other than the World Cup.
Photo From: Чемпионаты Европы. 1964(1964 European Championships Finals)
The qualifying and the Finals format was similar to the previous Edition. Due to the increasing number of participating teams, there would be two Rounds of Qualifiers followed by the Quarterfinals (All Home and Away Series).
Afterwards The Final Four teams would compete against one another in Spain in the space of a few days (just like 1960).
The First Round of qualifiers actually started during the 1962 World Cup in June 1962, when the Scandinavian Nations of Norway and Sweden encountered one another (Sweden qualifying).
Denmark was not far behind and also started in June 1962 vs. Malta. Danish striker Ole Madsen showed a sign of things to come by scoring a hat trick in their first match and one more goal in the return leg.
In the Fall of 1962, the other Nations started their qualifiers as well. Northern Ireland eliminated Poland (2-0 wins home and away), while Spain eliminated Romania (6-1 home, 1-3 loss away).
Bulgaria required a playoff at Roma to eliminate Eusebio’s Portugal. East Germany eliminated Czechoslovakia and Hungary took Wales out of the competition. Holland eliminated Switzerland, while Yugoslavia defeated Belgium and Italy easily eliminated Turkey.
The biggest draw in this First Round was the match up between England and France. England in the last days of Walter Winterbottom’s stewardship managed a tie in England. For the Return Leg in Paris, now under new Manager Alf Ramsey, the English suffered one of their heaviest defeats (2-5) and were eliminated early.
Photo From: World Soccer, May 1963
(Yvon Douis and Bobby Smith, February 27, 1963, EC Qualifier, France 5-England 2)
Photo From: World Soccer, April 1963
(February 27, 1963, EC Qualifier, France 5-England 2)
The Second Qualifying Rounds took place in the year 1963. Spain with some difficulty eliminated Northern Ireland by winning away at Belfast (1-0).
Sweden eliminated Yugoslavia (1960s Finalists) and Denmark defeated Albania (4-0 home, once again Ole Madsen scoring one of the goals, 0-1 away).
In one of the biggest upsets, Luxembourg eliminated Holland (1-1, 2-1 at Rotterdam).
The Republic of Ireland eliminated Austria and Hungary took out East Germany.
France gained revenge for their 1962 World Cup Qualifying elimination by knocking out Bulgaria.
In the biggest match up of this round, the Soviet Union were drawn against Italy.
The Soviets defeated the Italians (2-0) at Moscow in a match where Italy’s Ezio Pascuti was sent off. Following Angelo Sormani’s injury, the Italians (and their Manager Edmondo Fabbri) felt the Soviets had been too physical and dangerous.
The Italians were prepared to go all out in the Second Leg at Roma.
They faced an equally determined Lev Yashin, who kept them at bay and even saved a Sandro Mazzola penalty kick to eliminate the Italians (1-1 tie).
The Quarterfinals started in early 1964 for most, except Denmark and Luxembourg who faced one another in December 1963.
In another surprising performance by Luxembourg, Denmark required a playoff match in Amsterdam to eliminate Luxembourg (3-3, 2-2, 1-0).
Ole Madsen scored all seven of Denmark’s goals in these series to take his tally up to eleven goals and qualify Denmark to the Finals in Spain.
Spain met another Irish Opposition, this time the Republic of Ireland and comfortably defeated them home and away (5-1, 2-0 away).
Hungary impressed observers in their victory over France (3-1 at Paris, 2-1 home). The Soviet Union rounded out the Final Four by eliminating Sweden in May 1964.
Photo From: Football Magazine, Issue 52, May 1964
(April 25, 1964, EC Qualifier, France 1-Hungary 3)
Photo From: Football Magazine, Issue 52, May 1964
(April 25, 1964, EC Qualifier, France 1-Hungary 3)
Photo From: L’Equipe, L’Equipe de France de Football, la Belle Histoire(April 25, 1964, EC Qualifier, France 1-Hungary 3)
The Tournament Finals was to take place in Spain between June 17th and 21st.
The Four matches were to be played in only two venues: Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu and Barcelona’s Nou Camp.
Of the Four teams present Lajos Baroti’s Hungary appeared the most experienced. They played a system of Zonal Tactics with emphasis on the offside trap.
The main stars of the team were Florian Albert and Lajos Tichy in attack along with Ferenc Bene.
However, prior to the Tournament they lost two key players to injury.
Janos Gorocs (Újpesti Dózsa) was injured, while Gyula Rákosi (Ferencvárosi) had to withdraw as he had an Appendicitis Operation. In addition, Karoly Sandor was also carrying an injury. He did travel with the squad, though he would be available only for the second match (In the end he made no appearances). Imre Komora was given the task of replacing Rakosi on the right wing.
USSR played with a 4-2-4 formation with goalkeeper and recent Ballon d’Or winner Lev Yashin as its main star. Both Alfredo Di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas visited Yashin on a number of occasions during the Finals (mostly reminiscing about their past matches).
Their system relied on the fullbacks to go up on the wings. Defensively, they used Man-to –Man Marking and the use of the Offside trap.
They were strong in the wings with Chislenko and Khussainov aided with Ivanov and Voronin from the middle.
Denmark were essentially an amateur side. The recent Serie A winner Harald Nielsen was not released by Bologna.
They were influenced with the British style of tactics and were physical and athletic. They also played with a 4-2-4 formation with Ole Madsen as the main scoring threat.
They were a mostly inexperienced side with some players with only a handful of caps and were further beset with withdrawals.
Central defender John Madsen withdrew, as he did not want to make long journeys.
Jens Petersen dropped out as he had examinations around the time of the Finals (studying for a Major Certificate in Commerce).
Goalkeeper Erik Sorensen and right back Kaj Johansen withdrew after becoming professionals with Scottish club Morton.
Leif Nielsen was promoted to starting goalkeeper (after the Finals he was to train with Arsenal).
The hosts Spain had made changes since the disappointment of the 1962 World Cup. Spanish Manager Jose Villalonga had chosen to dispense with the veteran Oriundis such as Di Stefano, Puskas, Santamaria, etc.
For the first time in over a decade the team had no Oriundis.
He preferred to build his team around younger players. He opted to leave out Real Madrid Veteran Francisco Gento and chose Lapetra ahead of him.
Villalonga wanted more physical players and good runners. The tactics were based on Man-to-Man Marking, with the impressive Amancio on the right wing and Luis Suarez as the organizer.
Internazionale Milano based Luis Suarez was in the form of his life and had just won the Champions Cup with Inter over Real Madrid.
When a member of the Inter Management described Suarez as one of the Top five players in the World, former Hungary (and Barcelona) striker Sandor Kocsis stated that he would not have even been a reserve in the Great Hungary side of (1950-55) (perhaps this was pre-match head games).
Villalonga had been successful in obtaining the release of Suarez and Luis Del Sol (Juventus) from Italy (an achievement in those days to get the release of foreign players from Italian clubs).
In the end Del Sol would leave the squad on the pretense of ‘Gastroenteritis (stomach flu)’.
He would later disclose to the Italian press that he left as he did not want to be a substitute and that as long as Villalonga was the Manager, he would not play for Spain.
The first semifinals took place on June 17th with Spain taking on Hungary in Madrid and USSR facing Denmark in Barcelona.
Spain and Hungary had not met one another in 38 years (since 1926).
The Spanish pressed hard in the match. The Hungarians were technically better, but the Spanish compensated their lack of skills with drive and playing at a faster pace.
The Spanish in general attacked more as a cohesive unit, while for Hungary Albert and Tichy had a poor match.
Villalonga had seen Hungary’s match in Paris (3-1 win) and had seen that Tichy and Albert were the danger men.
He built his tactics on neutralizing this duo. Olivella was assigned to mark Albert, while Zoco marked Tichy.
Pereda (on his birthday) scored a goal that was ruled offside, but he broke the deadlock in the 35th minute, heading a cross from Suarez.
This further galvanized Spain who had more chances but could not convert.
Photo From: France Football, Issue 954, June 23, 1964(Florian Albert and Olivella, June 17, 1964, UEFA European Championships, Spain 2-Hungary 1)
They seemed headed for a win when Bene tied the match for Hungary very much against the run of the play with six minutes left and the match went into Overtime.
In the Overtime, Spain pressed hard again and were finally rewarded in the 115th minute by Amancio, who sent the home side to the Final.
Photo From: Marca, June 18, 1964(June 17, 1964, UEFA European Championships, Spain 2-Hungary 1)
Photo From: Чемпионаты Европы. 1964
(June 17, 1964, UEFA European Championships, Spain 2-Hungary 1)
Afterwards Hungary Manager Baroti felt Spain did not possess a great side and was disappointed in his side not taking chances.
However, most observers felt Spain should have really won by a wider margin in the regulation time.
Many also pointed out the poor refereeing of Belgian Referee Antoine Blavier (His last match before retirement).
Photo From: World Soccer, August 1964(Spain squad, June 17, 1964, UEFA European Championships, Spain 2-Hungary 1)
In the other match at Nou Camp, USSR comfortably defeated the inexperienced Danes with three unanswered goals.
The match was played at 10:30 PM. Yashin remarked that he had never played a match at such a late hour and in fact he was usually in bed at that hour.
Valery Voronin (from long range) and Viktor Ponedelnik scored in the first half, and Valentin Ivanov scored the third goal jut before the end.
Photo From: World Soccer, August 1964
(June 17, 1964, UEFA European Championships, Denmark 0- USSR 3)
Photo From: World Soccer, May 1965(June 17, 1964, UEFA European Championships, Denmark 0- USSR 3)
It was a somewhat uneventful game and Yashin had virtually nothing to do.
Italian Referee Concetto Lo Bello called it the easiest match that he had refereed.
For the Soviets, Voronin, Chislenko and Ivanov were the pick of the bunch.
An interesting event in the match was when after a Danish player was injured; the Soviets threw the ball out so he could be treated. At the replay the Danes threw the ball out as well as a goodwill gesture. This would become a staple of the game in the future.
The Third place match took place on June 20th at Nou Camp with Hungary taking on Denmark.
Batroti decided to give some reserves a run-in. Sandor Matrai, Laszlo Sarosi, Istvan Nagy, Imre Komora and Lajos Tichy were given a rest.
In their places Dezsö Novak, Kalman Ihasz, Ernö Solymosi and Janos Farkas were drafted. Sandor was still not fit to play; therefore Zoltan Varga was also called in to play on the right side.
Ferenc Bene was switched to replace Lajos Tichy as inside forward.
The Danish players were not as motivated and were visibly tanned from visiting the Barcelona beaches.
Ferenc Bene gave Hungary the lead in the 18th minute. They held onto the lead until just near the end when Carl Bertelsen scored the tying goal.
Denmark goalkeeper Leif Nielsen had a fine match and kept his team in the match.
Once again the Hungarians were better in technical terms and dominated, but the Danes were faster.
The Danes slowly got into the game in the second half and forced the equalizer and Overtime.
In the Overtime, the Danes just broke down and Dezsö Novak scored twice on dead ball situations to give Hungary the win.
The first was a penalty kick (after a foul on Albert) in the 107th minute and the second was a free kick in the 113th minute.
For Denmark, apart from Leif Nielsen, Ole Madsen and the two Hansens (Kaj and Bent), as well as Ole Sorensen had impressed the observers.
The next day, the Final took place at Madrid between the hosts Spain and defending Champions USSR.
It must be remembered that the two sides could have faced one another in 1960, but USSR was awarded the tie after General Franco would not grant the Soviets visas for Political reasons.
Much had changed in the four years and now General Franco was in the audience to witness Spain achieve glory and win their first ever International title.
It had been raining and the field was wet and slippery and he sky was mostly gray due to a storm and weather conditions.
Spain named an unchanged side an retained their 4-3-3 formation.
For the Soviets, Konstantin Beskov fielded Korneev instead of Gusarov. This gave them a more a defensive formation (but still 4-2-4). Beskov also moved Mudrik to the left side to counter Pereda and Amancio.
Ivanov went back to his post at the front (in the semifinals he was more in middle).
It was to be a match up between the more British (physical) style Soviets vs. the lively Latins of Spain.
After the match started it was obvious that the weather conditions would play a part. The wet field made the ball slide wjhich affected the teams’ play.
The first two goals were scored within the first ten minutes.
In the sixth minute, Ivanov lost a ball that reached Suarez on the right side. He crossed the ball in the box; it went over Shesterniev, but Chislenko chested it down on the path of the onrushing Pereda who opened the score.
Just two minutes later, Yashin gave the ball to left back Mudrik. He started an attack and sent a cross to Khussainov in the center who shot past Iribar.
Photo From: Чемпионаты Европы. 1964 (1)(Team captains, June 22, 1964, UEFA European Championships, Spain 2- USSR 1)
Photo From: France Football, Issue 954, June 23, 1964(Viktor Ponedelnik and Olivella, June 22, 1964, UEFA European Championships, Spain 2- USSR 1)
In general Spain played more direct and faster while the Soviets relied on short passes.
The main battle was in midfield, where the teams tried to gain possession. For long periods the strength and experience of the Soviets counterbalanced Spain’s direct approach.
The majority of the best chances were restricted in the first 25 minutes and from 51st to 81st minutes, where both teams had chances to score.
Photo From: Onze-Mondial, Issue 129, October 1999(June 22, 1964, UEFA European Championships, Spain 2- USSR 1)
Pereda scored another goal that was ruled offside. He also had an appeal for a penalty kick that was not given.
Spain scored the winning goal with only seven minutes left. On the right side, Pereda evaded Mudrik and crossed for Marcelino who headed in the winner (the Soviet defense should have cleared the cross).
Spain won its first ever International trophy. It had been a Propaganda victory for General Franco against Political Foes.
Photo From: Calcio 2000, Issue 22 Supplement, August-September 1999(Spain squad, June 22, 1964, UEFA European Championships, Spain 2- USSR 1)
It is amazing to think that they did not win another trophy for 44 years until the 2008 Euros.
In general the Soviets appeared completely off form and both goals were due to defensive errors.
Although Beskov felt that the theatrics of Spanish players also broke his team’s rhythm.
For Beskov, Amancio was the best of the Spanish.
Photo From: Calcio 2000, Issue 22 Supplement, August-September 1999(Olivella lifting trophy)
In addition to Amancio, Olivella, Rivilla and Zoco had been impressive in Spain’s quest.
For the Soviets, Voronin had impressed the critics the most.
Others such as Yashin, Shesterniev, Korneev, Chislenko, Ivanov and Ponedelnik had also performed well.
In the post match banquet, some criticized UEFA for forgetting to invite any Real Madrid Officials (two of the matches had been at their venue).
But most of the criticism centered on the format of the Tournament.
Many critics had problems with the duration of the Tournament. Two matches per team in a matter of days as opposed to a drawn out Tournament like the World Cup with as much as 16 Teams (back then).
This format also appeared to give an unfair advantage to the home team and many believed that Spain would not have won otherwise.
The next Euro qualifiers would feature Group Matches, although the Finals would still retain this format.
The Team of the Tournament:
Lev Yashin (USSR), Rivilla (Spain), Dezsö Novak (Hungary), Zoco (Spain), Olivella (Spain), Amancio (spain), Ferenc Bene (Hungary), Valentin Ivanov (USSR), Pereda (Spain), Luis Suarez (Spain), Florian Albert (Hungary)
Photo From: Чемпионаты Европы. 1964 (1)(Jose Villalonga with his squad, June 22, 1964, UEFA European Championships, Spain 2- USSR 1)
Calcio 2000, Issue 22 Supplement, August-September 1999
France Football, Issue 953, June 16, 1964
France Football, Issue 954, June 23, 1964
Onze-Mondial, Issue 129, October 1999
World Soccer, August 1964
World Soccer, September 1964
Спортивные игры 1964 EC
Чемпионаты Европы. 1964
Football Magazine, Issue 45, October 1963
Football Magazine, Issue 52, May 1964
Marca, November 26, 1962
Marca, November 2, 1962
Marca, May 31, 1963
Marca, October 31, 1963
Marca, April 9, 1964
Marca, June 18, 1964
Marca, June 21, 1964
Marca, June 22, 1964
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