Ruud Doevendans has been an official columnist for a Dutch club and owns one of the largest
collections of soccer videos containing hundreds of World Cup matches. We at PWC are proud to have him as
a columnist. He will share his views about the past, present and future of
the World Cup.
Read earlier columns
The Vulture strikes at midnight
Once every eight years, the World Cup is being held in a part of the world
outside Europe. That means that in Europe, we have to sit up all night to
watch the games. That was the case in 1978, in 1986 and 1994. So it will be
next year, although I heard that a lot of games will be played early in the
morning (European time), so it will probably not be “stay up late”, but “get
up early”. No problem, during all those years I only missed one World Cup
game that was live on tv, Bolivia-South Korea in 1994. A meaningless game,
that wasn’t interesting enough for me to withstand the torture of sleeping
just three hours a night, and that for four weeks in a row. I saw the game
later that day, on video. In all other cases, I was there in front of the
I certainly was in 1986, when Spain met Denmark in Queretaro, in the Estadio
La Corregidora. Although the problem was, that I had just started my first
job, working in shifts. And yes, I had to start the next morning at 5.15,
and this game began at 0.00. What a disaster. Still, it never crossed my
mind to forget Spain-Denmark, rather I would sleep just a couple of hours
and feel miserable all day. Wanting to see this game has been one of the
best decisions I have taken, as it turned out to be an evergeen. An
unforgettable match, played by two magnificent teams, in a beautiful
atmosphere. With a Dutch referee who caught the eye, and a young striker who
put himself into the historybooks by scoring four goals: Emilio Butragueno,
nicknamed El Buitre, The Vulture.
I knew it, this had to be a great game. Spain had lost in the first round
against Brazil, but deserved better after Michel’s cracker hit the bar to
bounce clearly over the line. Australian referee Bambridge looked the other
way and decided to let the play go on. After that, Spain beat Northern
Ireland in a close fight, and swept aside Algeria rather easily. Denmark, on
the other hand, had beaten the Scots by a narrow margin, but crushed Uruguay
6-1 and had no problems with West-Germany, although Beckenbauer’s men seemed
very happy finishing second in the group, which enabled them to face Morocco
instead of the strong Spaniards.
Germany gave 80% in that match, still the
Danes had impressed. As well as Spain. Denmark-Spain, two classy “playing”
liberos in Gallego and Olsen, two superstrikers Elkjaer-Larsen and young
emerging Michael Laudrup against the master-defender Camacho and the butcher
Goikoetxea, two very dynamic midfields, a game to look forward to. And a
game you wouldn’t like to miss. Even at the expense of too little sleep.
And even when the Spanish midfielders did very well, Denmark overwhelmed
them in the first half. Elkjaer and Laudrup were at their very best, and
Zubizarreta needed six arms to keep all shots out. He succeeded until the
33rd minute, when referee Jan Keizer gave his first penalty of the night,
which Jesper Olsen converted quietly: 1-0 to Denmark. But after that, Spain
slowly but surely came back into the match and had their first, though
little, chances. And more important, it seemed that Michel, Victor, Calderé
and Julio Alberto had more stamina than Jesper Olsen, Bertelsen, Berggreen
Nevertheless, Denmark looked to be the team to carry the
one-goalmargin into half-time, before goalkeeper Lars Högh played a goalkick
to Jesper Olsen. He played it back poorly, Emilio Butragueno came between
and scored easily. An unbelievable mistake by the Danish winger, who with
this action enriched the Danish language, since every big mistake from then
on was called a “jesper”.
After the break, Spain took control, even when Laudrup and most of all
Elkjaer-Larsen were threatening all of the time. In the 57th minute, Camacho
lengthened a corner for Butragueno to score. Number two for The Vulture on
the night, his third of the tournament. Denmark brought striker John Eriksen
in place of full back Henrik Andersen, and opened their defence. Spain took
profit of it, and Andoni Goikoetxea hammered home spotkick number two, given
by Keizer. Ten minutes later Butragueno, who else, was put clear by
substitute Eloy to score 1-4 and the game was over. But not before The
Vulture had taken his tally to four, converting penalty number three, and
leaving the Danes shattered.
Apart from Andersen, Laudrup and Jesper Olsen,
Denmark only had oldtimers in the team, not in the position to give it
another chance at another World Cup. But Denmark had a team built up out of
players, and the Spaniards had players built up out of a team. The
teamspirit made the players better, and that’s why Spain didn’t fall apart
after the first half hour, when they were outclassed and fell behind in the
score. Denmark did fall apart when Spain took control. When I switched off
the tv, the clock had just turned 2.00. I had not felt any sleep, and
decided to stay up to go to work at 4.45. With this great game in mind, I
had enough to think about.
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