EUROPEAN CUP HISTORY.COM
1958/59 saw most of the foreign teams that were expected to challenge Real fall away in the early stages of the competition. Manchester United were forced by the Football Association and the Football League, on the grounds that they were not the champions, to withdraw from the tournament after they had been drawn against Young Boys of Berne in the First Round. United instead played two friendlies in which they beat the Swiss side, who would go on to reach the semi-finals, 3-2 on aggregate. The remaining English representatives in the competition, however, league champions Wolverhampton Wanderers who had been proclaimed the best in Europe just four years earlier, were knocked out in the First Round. Following the appearances of Fiorentina and Milan in the previous two European Cup Finals, much was expected of the Italian champions Juventus with their star forward pairing of John Charles and Omar Sivori, but incredibly they were thrashed 7-0 in Austria by Wiener SK in the Preliminary Round. The representatives from major footballing countries such as Yugoslavia, Scotland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary were also eliminated before the quarter-final stage. All this in a season when Real Madrid had been strengthened even further by the addition of the great Hungarian forward Ferenc Puskas. Having stayed in the west ever since the 1956 Hungarian revolution, Puskas had been trailing around the continent leaving him overweight and almost penniless. Real had gambled on signing him, but they were to be rewarded handsomely in time. Among the teams that reached the last eight and were out to stop Real and Puskas were their Madrid neighbours Atletico who disposed of Wolves conquerors Schalke 04 by four goals to one. Meanwhile Real beat Wiener SK 7-1 with Di Stefano scoring four in their home leg after a goalless draw in Vienna.
This left four more unexpected teams completing the quarter-final line-up. The biggest name was that of Stade de Reims, finalists in the first competition in 1956. With four of the team that had run Real Madrid so close in Paris still in the side, Reims had strengthened their teame with three big signings. Jean Vincent had arrived from Lille and Roger Piantoni from Nancy, but the big addition was the free scoring Just Fontaine, signed from Nice to replace Raymond Kopa up front. Fontaine scored 34 goals in 26 league games as Reims won the French championship once more, and ensured that Reims were still a force to be reckoned with. They struggled without the injured Fontaine in the first leg of their quarter-final away to Standard Liege as they went down 2-0, but they stormed back in the second game with a 3-0 win with Fontaine scoring the winner ten minutes from the end. In the other tie, Young Boys Berne of Switzerland overcame the East Germans of Wismut Karl-Marx-Stadt after a replay in Amsterdam.
If the draw had allowed it, the final would almost certainly have been an all Madrid affair, but the chances of that were lost when Real and Atletico were paired together in the semi-finals. Real might have brushed aside the Spanish challenge of Seville by eight goals a year earlier, but their local rivals were to provide a much sterner test with the likes of Brazilian World Cup star Vava and the Portugese striker Mendonca in their line-up. The opening game in the Bernabeu saw Atletico take the lead through Chuzo after 15 minutes. Real, without the injured Kopa, struck back immediately with a goal from Rial, before a Puskas penalty gave the home side the lead. Vava, however was less successful from the spot as his penalty for Atletico was saved by Realís new goalkeeper Rogelio Dominguez to leave Real with a one goal lead to take across the city. With Kopa back in the side in place of Puskas, Realís lead lasted only until the 43rd minute of the second leg when Atletico winger Enrique Collar scored the only goal of the match and set up the first ever replay in a European Cup semi-final. The deciding game took place in Zaragoza and turned out to be just as close as the previous two matches had been. Di Stefano gave Real the lead after 16 minutes, but this time it was the turn of Atletico to reply immediately as Collar equalised just three minutes later. In the end, however, it was another penalty from the recalled Puskas five minutes before half-time that decided the outcome and Real were through to the Final once more after a 2-1 win.
While Real were reaching their fourth successive final in Zaragoza, Stade de Reims were attempting to overhaul a one goal deficit from their first leg tie away to Young Boys Berne. Having already scored ten goals in six European Cup games that season, it was Just Fontaine who Reims were looking towards to provide the necessary goals, but as it turned out it was two goals from Piantoni and one from Penverne that gave the French side a 3-0 win and set up a repeat of the first ever European Cup Final.
In front of 78,000 spectators in Stuttgartís Neckarstadion, Real Madrid, even without the injured Puskas in the team, eased to yet another European Cup Final victory against an uninspired Reims side. Ahead after only two minutes through a Mateos goal, Real should have been two ahead after 13 minutes when German referee Albert Dusch awarded them a penalty, but the scorer of the opening goal was denied by Reims goalkeeper Colonna whose save kept the deficit down to one goal. The second half, however, started just as the first had when, just two minutes after the break, the great Di Stefano scored to keep his record of having found the net in every European Cup Final. Even with Kopa playing most of the game as a virtual passenger after being taken down from behind by Vincent, 2-0 was the final score and once again the European Cup trophy returned to the Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid for another year. Now the competition was gripping the continent and this was all down to Real Madrid. Could they be beaten, and if so, who would be the team that finally got the better of them? The top clubs from all around Europe were desperate to have a crack at the undefeated champions of Europe, but there was still no sign that any of them could beat the great Real.
1959 European Cup Final (Stuttgart)
Real Madrid 2 Stade de Reims 0
Real Madrid: Dominguez, Marquitos, Santamaria, Zarraga (capt), Santisteban, Ruiz, Kopa, Mateos, Di Stefano, Rial, Gento
Scorers: Mateos, Di Stefano
Stade de Reims: Colonna, Rodzik, Jonquet (capt), Giraudo, Penverne, Leblond, Lamartin, Bliard, Fontaine, Piantoni, Vincent
1958/59 European Cup Highlights (in Italian)
You can find details of all the results, dates and scorers on the RSSSF website here.