Aston Villa v Barcelona, 1982 European Super Cup
Aston Villa took part in the 1982 European Super Cup as winners of the European Cup. Their opponents were Barcelona, holders of the European Cup Winners’ Cup, in a two-legged tie played in January 1983. The Spanish side came to Villa Park with a 1-0 lead from the first leg, where Marcos Alonso scored the only goal. The clubs had met in the 1978 UEFA Cup, with Johan Cruyff part of the Barcelona side that won 4-3 on aggregate in the quarter-finals.
The competition was established in 1972 and ran with this format until the Cup Winners’ Cup was disbanded in 1999. Since then the Champions League holders have competed against the winners of the UEFA Cup/Europa League in a single game. Between 1998 and 2012 the Super Cup was hosted at Monaco’s Stade Louis II, and now takes place at a rotating venue each year.
There have been eight English wins in total, four for Liverpool and one each for Aston Villa, Chelsea, Manchester United and Nottingham Forest. Aberdeen became the only Scottish winners in 1983, defeating European Champions Hamburg. The competition was not held in 1974, 1981 (when Liverpool could not find a date to meet Dynamo Tbilisi) or 1985 – on other occasions before 1998 it was also played as a one-off due to fixture congestion.
Prior to this tie, the only previous English winners of the Super Cup had been Liverpool in 1977, helped by Terry McDermott’s hat-trick against Hamburg, and Nottingham Forest in 1979. That final saw Barcelona compete for the first time, beaten 1-0 at the City Ground when Charlie George scored the winner during a brief loan spell and then held 1-1 at the Nou Camp.
Barcelona had also played in England the previous year, when they were drawn against Tottenham in the semi-finals of the Cup Winners’ Cup. The clash at White Hart Lane in April 1982 gave a hint to what was to come in this second leg. That match was marked by “a series of Barcelona fouls, sly transgressions and blatant assaults” which culminated in a red card for Juan Estella. Spurs manager Keith Burkinshaw confessed “we didn’t expect them to play like that”. However after the 1-1 draw in London, a 1-0 home win took Barcelona through to the final against Standard Liège, also played at the Nou Camp, where they lifted the trophy with a 2-1 win. They were fined after their display against Tottenham, and again following crowd disturbances in the final itself – another taste of what was to follow in Birmingham.
In 1982-83 Barcelona finished 4th in La Liga and won both the Copa del Rey and Copa de la Liga. They had last lifted the Spanish title in 1974, and were not to win it again until 1985. German coach Udo Lattek was sacked in March 1983, and the Argentine 1978 World Cup winner César Luis Menotti appointed. Diego Maradona was in his first season with the club after a world record transfer from Boca Juniors, but missed the Super Cup with hepatitis. At a time when they were limited to two foreign players, the other was West German playmaker Bernd Schuster.
Meanwhile Aston Villa had ended 1981-82 11th in the First Division after their surprise title win the season before, while winning their first-ever European Cup against Bayern Munich. They were languishing in 9th place ahead of this game, eventually finishing 6th to secure a UEFA Cup place. Villa were knocked out of the European Cup at the quarter-final stage by Juventus in March 1983. Manager Tony Barton, appointed shortly before the European Cup win when Ron Saunders resigned in February 1982, was eventually sacked in May 1984. He died in 1993 at the age of 56.
In contrast to their modern image, Barcelona were expected to protect their lead with cynical tactics, but their display of aggression, petulance and poor discipline was shocking. The game was condemned by the Daily Mail as “a night of appalling violence”. Ten yellow cards were shown in addition to the three sendings-off, with goalkeeper Urruti extremely fortunate to avoid dismissal when kicking Gordon Cowans after Villa’s second goal. As quoted in World Soccer, Barton complained that “Barcelona have players of quality and shouldn’t need to play like that.” Referee Alex Ponnet admitted he had “never refereed a game like that before” – Lattek called him ‘incompetent’ and protested that “the violence was not just our fault but also Villa’s.” Four Barcelona players received bans of up to five games, while UEFA fined the club £20,000.
Match details for Aston Villa – Barcelona; Villa Park, European Super Cup Second Leg, Wednesday 26 January 1983:
Aston Villa: 1. Nigel Spink, 2. Gary Williams, 3. Colin Gibson, 4. Allan Evans, 5. Ken McNaught, 6. Andy Blair, 7. Des Bremner, 8. Gary Shaw (sub Paul Birch), 9. Peter Withe, 10. Gordon Cowans, 11. Tony Morley (sub Mark Walters). Manager: Tony Barton. Scorers: Shaw, Cowans, McNaught. Sent Off: Evans.
Barcelona: 1. Javier Urruti, 2. José Ramón Alexanko, 3. José Vicente ‘Tente’ Sánchez, 4. Migueli, 5. Julio Alberto, 6. Víctor Muñoz, 7. Bernd Schuster, 8. Miguel Ángel ‘Periko’ Alonso, 9. Marcos Alonso, 10. Urbano, 11. Francisco José Carrasco (sub Enrique Quini; sub Manolo). Manager: Udo Lattek. Sent Off: Julio Alberto, Marcos Alonso.
Match programme scans courtesy of Miles McClagan @TheSkyStrikers twitter and Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/114058793@N05/with/50636736501/