Saturday, May 5, 2018

The Euros-Part Five (1976 Edition)-part a (Qualifiers-Groups 1 to 4)

By the time the qualifiers for the Fourth (1976) Euros kicked off in the Fall of 1974, the competition had maintained its place as second in importance only to the World Cup.
UEFA had still held on to the staging the Finals between four teams, but there were calls to increase the number of participants for the Final stage.
Just like the previous edition, the 32 Nations were to be divided into eight Groups (each containing four teams).
The winner of each Group would then advance to the Quarterfinals series (home and away) in the Spring of 1976, followed shortly thereafter with the Finals that included the last four teams.
There was also a wind of change sweeping across Europe as the continent was in the throes of the Dutch inspired ‘Total Football’ of Holland and West Germany with Johann Cruyff and Franz Beckenbauer as the undisputed kings of the Old Continent.
Others like Italy and England were in rebuilding phase with new Managers.




The Qualifiers:
Group 1
This Group would consist of England, Czechoslovakia, Portugal and Cyprus.
Following Alf Ramsey’s failure to qualify for the 1974 World Cup, England were now managed by former Leeds United Boss Don Revie.
He was expected to ring changes and place England back at the top.
Portugal had been fading since 1966 and Cyprus were the weakest team of the Group.
At first, Czechoslovakia were not seen as favorites for this Group that appeared England’s for the taking. Especially when England defeated Czechoslovakia (3-0) to kick start the Don Revie Era (along with new Admiral Kit).
This would end being Czechoslovakia’s only loss on their way to final glory as they chalked up wins to win the Group.
England’s troubles started as early as their second match after they were held scoreless at Wembley by a super defensive Portugal.
England’s main highlight for this campaign ended up being Malcolm MacDonald’s five goals vs. Cyprus.
Czechoslovakia took an option on the Group when they defeated England (2-1) in Bratislava in late October 1975 (this was Revie’s first ever defeat as England Manager).
After that, England had to hope for other results to go their way, including the unlikely scenario that Cyprus could beat the Czechs.
They didn’t and England missed the Finals of an International Tournament again.



Photo From: World Soccer, December 1974
(October 30, 1974, EC Qualifier, England3-Czechoslovakia 0)

Photo From: World Soccer, December 1974
(October 30, 1974, EC Qualifier, England3-Czechoslovakia 0)

Photo From: Shoot, April 19, 1975
(October 30, 1974, EC Qualifier, England3-Czechoslovakia 0)

Photo From: England, The Complete Post-War Record, Author Mike Payne
(October 30, 1974, EC Qualifier, England3-Czechoslovakia 0)

Photo From: England, The Complete Post-War Record, Author Mike Payne
(November 20, 1974, EC Qualifier, England 0-Portugal 0)


Photo From: World Soccer, January 1975
(November 20, 1974, EC Qualifier, England 0-Portugal 0)

Photo From: World Soccer, January 1975
(November 20, 1974, EC Qualifier, England 0-Portugal 0)

Photo From: Shoot, November 22, 1975
(November 20, 1974, EC Qualifier, England 0-Portugal 0)

Photo From: England, The Complete Post-War Record, Author Mike Payne
(April 16, 1975, EC Qualifier, England 5-Cyprus 0)

Photo From: Shoot, May 17, 1975
(April 16, 1975, EC Qualifier, England 5-Cyprus 0)


Photo From: Shoot, May 17, 1975
(April 16, 1975, EC Qualifier, England 5-Cyprus 0)


Photo From: Shoot, May 17, 1975
(April 16, 1975, EC Qualifier, England 5-Cyprus 0)

Photo From: Shoot, November 22, 1975
(April 30, 1975, EC Qualifier, Czechoslovakia 5-Portugal 0)

Photo From: Shoot, November 22, 1975
(October 30, 1975, EC Qualifier, Czechoslovakia 2-England 1)

Photo From: Shoot, November 22, 1975
(October 30, 1975, EC Qualifier, Czechoslovakia 2-England 1)


Group 2
This Group (featuring Austria, Wales, Hungary and Luxembourg) appeared to be a contest between the more experienced Hungarians with their Austrian neighbors as likely challengers.
At first glance, Wales did not appear as likely contenders.
Hungary would have problems at the Managerial front as Jozsef Boszik would have to withdraw due to illness just prior to the start of the qualifiers and three Managers followed (Ede Moor, Janos Szocs and ultimately Lajos Baroti).
Austria would also have managerial problems as their won as Leopold Stasny would resign after losing at Hungary in September 1975.
Wales, after losing its opening match to Austria (1-2), would go on and win all their other games to win the group convincingly.
The highlight of their qualification was perhaps the win in Budapest in April 1975 that confirmed their intent.


Photo From: World Soccer , October 1974
(September 4, 1974, EC Qualifier, Austria 2-Wales 1)


Photo From: World Soccer, November 1974
(October 13, 1974, EC Qualifier, Luxembourg 2-Hungary 4)

Photo From: World Soccer, November 1974
(October 13, 1974, EC Qualifier, Luxembourg 2-Hungary 4)

Photo From: World Soccer, April 1975
(October 13, 1974, EC Qualifier, Luxembourg 2-Hungary 4)

(October 30, 1974, EC Qualifier, Wales 2-Hungary 0)

Photo From: Österreichs Fußball Länderspiele Chronik 1902 – 1993, Author: Anton Egger
(Hans Krankl, April 2, 1975, EC Qualifier, Austria 0-Hungary 0)

Photo From: Shoot, June 13, 1981
(April 16, 1975, EC Qualifier, Hungary 1-Wales 2)


Photo From: Shoot, May 17, 1975
(April 16, 1975, EC Qualifier, Hungary 1-Wales 2)

Photo From: Shoot, November 22, 1975
(May 1, 1975, EC Qualifier, Luxembourg 1-Wales 3)


Group 3
This Group consisted of Yugoslavia, Sweden, Northern Ireland and Norway.
Yugoslavia and Sweden appeared to be favorites with Northern Ireland jutst behind, as Norway seemed unlikely to mount a challenge.
In the early going, Northern Ireland surprisingly defeated Sweden (at Stockholm) and Yugoslavia to throw the group wide open.
However, this would be Yugoslavia’s only defeat as they would pick themselves up and win all their remaining five matches with the other teams canceling each other out. Their convincing win over Sweden (3-0) in October 1975 effectively sealed the Group for them.

Photo From: Shoot, May 17, 1975
(April 16, 1975, EC Qualifier, Northern Ireland 1-Yugoslavia 0)


Group 4
This Group consisting of Spain, Denmark, Spain and Romania appeared to be balanced of all with no clear-cut favorites.
In the end Denmark would be a disappointment as the other three fought it to the end.
For Spain, a controversy would surround about the eligibility of Argentinean-born Roberto Martinez. After their first match, Denmark would question his status and even in the Spanish League itself, the Spanish Federation would have to open an inquiry after clubs protested. In the end he would be discarded to allay any doubts.
Spain would follow the win over Denmark with another key away win over Scotland in November 1974, where Iribar would surpass Ricardo Zamora as the Spanish caps record holder.
Both Spain and Romania would be undefeated in these qualifiers. However, Romania were able to register a single win (a 6-1 win over Denmark) and ended up tying the rest of their matches. This allowed Spain to edge ahead in the end.
For the Scottish, their trip at Copenhagen in September 1975 would create controversy as five of their players (including Billy Bremner) were involved in a nightclub incident. This effectively ended Bremner’s International career.


Photo From: (Magazine Source unknown) / Contribution From a blog viewer (special thanks to Jose Luis Carbonell)
(September 25, 1974, EC Qualifier, Denmark 1-Spain 2)



Photo From: (Magazine Source unknown) / Contribution From a blog viewer (special thanks to Jose Luis Carbonell)
(Spain squad, September 25, 1974, EC Qualifier, Denmark 1-Spain 2)



Photo From: (Magazine Source unknown) / Contribution From a blog viewer (special thanks to Jose Luis Carbonell)
(November 20, 1974, EC Qualifier, Scotland 1-Spain 2)


Photo From: (Magazine Source unknown) / Contribution From a blog viewer (special thanks to Jose Luis Carbonell)
(November 20, 1974, EC Qualifier, Scotland 1-Spain 2)


Photo From: Todo Sobre La Seleccion Espanola, Felix Martialay, 2006
(Spain squad, November 20, 1974, EC Qualifier, Scotland 1-Spain 2)



Photo From: World Soccer, March 1975
(February 5, 1975, EC Qualifier, Spain 1-Scotland 1)


Photo From: (Magazine Source unknown) / Contribution From a blog viewer (special thanks to Jose Luis Carbonell)
(February 5, 1975, EC Qualifier, Spain 1-Scotland 1)


Photo From: (Magazine Source unknown) / Contribution From a blog viewer (special thanks to Jose Luis Carbonell)
(Spain squad, February 5, 1975, EC Qualifier, Spain 1-Scotland 1)



Photo From: (Magazine Source unknown) / Contribution From a blog viewer (special thanks to Jose Luis Carbonell)
(April 17, 1975, EC Qualifier, Spain 1-Romania 1)


Photo From: Todo Sobre La Seleccion Espanola, Felix Martialay, 2006
(Spain squad, April 17, 1975, EC Qualifier, Spain 1-Romania 1)


Photo From: (Magazine Source unknown) / Contribution From a blog viewer (special thanks to Jose Luis Carbonell)
(October 12, 1975, EC Qualifier, Spain 2-Denmark 0)



Photo From: (Magazine Source unknown) / Contribution From a blog viewer (special thanks to Jose Luis Carbonell)
(November 16, 1975, EC Qualifier, Romania 2-Spain 2)



Photo From: (Magazine Source unknown) / Contribution From a blog viewer
(Spain squad, November 16, 1975, EC Qualifier, Romania 2-Spain 2)

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