Liverpool’s unfailing premiere at the Bernabéu

On August 30, 1989, the Bernabéu welcomed an illustrious visitor: Liverpool. It was the Bernabéu Trophy, the official presentation of Real Madrid to its fans. The two most successful clubs in Europe faced each other at the time: the Whites had six European Cups and two UEFA Cups. Liverpool, four and two, respectively.

The English team had beaten Madrid the Garcías the final in Paris in 1981 and remained at a very high level. He had lifted two of the last three English leagues. And, although the most recent one had narrowly escaped him against Arsenal, he had won the Cup and came from taking his revenge on Arsenal in the Charity Shield.

But there was more: Liverpool had been outlawed in Europe, like the rest of the English clubs since the Heysel tragedy in 85, so to see them was to witness a mystery. He had never played at the Bernabéu before. One of the finalists of 81, Hansen, survived and the South African goal Grobelaar and the attackers Barnes and Rush were spoken highly. They arrived at Barajas the day before very relaxed, courteous but sure of themselves, with the famous Kenny Dalglish (who also played that final) as coach: “The most important thing is that the public have fun. We come to play well. This is the most representative stadium in the world ”.

There were added attractions. Madrid had a new coach, John Benjamin Toshack, precisely a former Liverpool player. The club had won the four previous leagues, but Mendoza wanted the European Cup, turned into an obsession. He decided to do without Beenhakker since in the previous edition he left Butragueño on the bench against PSV to remove Llorente in order to mark the Gerets side. That outraged him: “You have endangered a club heritage,” he said. Madrid saved that tie with difficulties, in extra time, but the auction was that in the semifinal in Milan they conceded a resounding 5-0.

Mendoza, a man of the turf, had spent a long summer life in San Sebastián, and there he established contact with Toshack, who had triumphed in the Real. It was not the only novelty. There were two important signings for the defense, Hierro and Ruggeri.

Another man in all the conversations was Butragueño, recently renewed for five years. It was said that for 1,000 million pesetas, although the amount was never confirmed. At the time there was talk of 100 club, annual figure for which Michel and Sanchís were said to have renewed. Butragueño inaugurated, in popular saying, the 200 club.

The team had just won Spartak Moscow at the Colombino. There was talk that he had found a safer system that would make another 5-0 like Milan’s impossible in the future. There was optimism. Toshack predicted the fusion between the creativity of the Quinta del Buitre and the Liverpool model. It sounded perfect.

The team came out with the two new ones, Hierro and Ruggeri, and nine starters from the previous season (Camacho had retired and Gallego had gone to Udinese). No surprise in the line-up, but yes in how he was placed: Schuster as libero, between Hierro and Ruggeri, Sanchís and Gordillo as full-backs, and Chendo as a midfielder in defensive duty, blocking midfielder, as they say in Argentina. To create, only Michel and Martín Vázquez. Above, Butragueño and Hugo Sánchez. Six to contain and four to attack.

Whistles began to be heard when in the 16th minute a long and crossed pass from Martín Vázquez flew over Grobelaar and Hugo Sánchez, launched into the plate, skilfully headed over him. Golazo. Three minutes later, Butragueño dribbled past two rivals and scored another goal that set the Bernabéu apart with shouts of “Butragueño! Butragueño! ”.

Thus the incipient protests died down, but what remained was an unfailing shock. Liverpool attacked against the defensive network and Madrid only released long passes from Schuster. There were no more goals. The game was a firecracker. Chendo held on to playmaker Barnes, beat Liverpool 2-0, but the feeling was solemn boredom. The previous years, the Madrid of La Quinta had been a violin concert and seeing him locked up at home squeaked.

Toshack kept the model for two more games, criticism rained and Mendoza himself, who began by bothering him that he went to the bench dressed in a tracksuit and not with his impeccable San Sebastian suits, made him notice. In the third league game, Madrid received Valencia with Chendo as a winger and Schuster as a midfielder, and won 6-2. He still tried some other time about Chendo as an organizer, but ended up rejecting the idea to the general repudiation.

That first stain as a defensive coach would mark the rest of the year, despite the fact that he won that League with a record of goals (107).

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