When Zico’s Flamengo downed Liverpool

For the football supporting youth of the world, Liverpool is just a club that tells you about it’s history, but very few millennials know what has actually occurred. Bloody young’uns, eh? Who can blame them though, really, but hopefully this past memorable moment will be of interest to the new breed of Reds.

From the late 60s until the early 90s, there were very few clubs in the world that were as good as Liverpool. As I write this article in America, wearing my ’77 throwback, I’m smiling at the thought of our success back then. Liverpool won pretty much every cup they entered. They hardly took part in the International Cup (or as it’s called now – the Club World Cup) but in 1981 they finally did, after being crowned champions of Europe following a win over Real Madrid.

This was the height of Liverpool’s powers. Bob Paisley was still manager and Kenny Dalglish et al were there too. This was also the last time where Aston Villa were considered a force, challenging the Reds strongly on many occasions. In that respect, the 1970s was a fun decade for the First Division – Derby County won a couple of league titles and Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest reigned supreme in Europe. Fergie was still in Scotland too, and just the year before had won the European Cup Winners Cup with Aberdeen. This, of course, was in a time when the game wasn’t dominated by money like it is today.

That’s not saying there wasn’t money in the sport; Liverpool were able to sign up some new additions. New players came into the side such as; Bruce Grobbelaar, Mark Lawrenson, Ian Rush, Craig Johnston and Ronnie Whelan, and they’d all be key to the success of the 80s. Rush left for Italy during the middle of the 80s, to come back a year later after not settling in.

In 1981-82, the club entered five competitions; reaching the quarter-final in the European Cup but losing against CSKA Sofia 2-1 and bowing out of the FA Cup in the fifth round, but winning the League Cup following a 3-1 win over Spurs, and winning the league title alongside that too. The success, overall, continued.

As I mentioned above, Liverpool didn’t take the Club World Cup seriously – it was in the middle of a rush matches in December, which was a potential disruption to their domestic title push. Liverpool were winning league titles like Manchester United did in the 90s, and the early part of the 2000s, so for a cup competition to potentially derail their domestic dominance was not an option to explore any further or, essentially, risk. It would have gone against everything Bill Shankly had preached. Until the opportunity to play Brazilian giants Flamengo arose……

How did Flamengo get in the Club World Cup? They won the first ever Copa Libertadores, after winning in the final against Cobreloa 2-0 with two goals from the Player of the Tournament – Zico. He was one of the top players in the sport at the time, and is considered a great today.

The match took place in the National Stadium on December 13th, 1981, and was considered the most important match in Flamengo’s history because of what it meant to the club and the nation as a whole – coming up against the mighty Liverpool.

Liverpool lined up in its normal 4-4-2 formation: Grobbelaar, Neal, Thompson, Hansen, Lawrenson, Lee, McDermott, Souness, Kennedy, Dalglish and Johnston, while Flamengo lined up in a 4-3-3; Raul, Leandro, Marinho, Mozer, Junior, Andrade, Adilio, Zico, Tita, Nunes, Lico. The match was all over in the first half as two goals by Nunes in the 12th and 41st minute, then a 34th minute strike by Adilio, settled the match for the club that plays in the Maracana. It was the first world title to head back to Brazil since Pele’s Santos and a truly memorable occasion in both clubs’ history. Those were the days, eh?

By Stephen Brandt – Liverpool fan – @yellowcardSCB

Posted by Natter Football

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