Football maybe have been stopped in it’s tracks by the raging pandemic that is Covid-19, but we at matchdayguru won’t be bullied into obscurity by the deadly virus. So, we have decided to turn back the hands of time just enough not to upset mother nature as we bring you memorable matches from the past with our Retro-Series.
For all of the spending by France’s Paris Saint-Germain over the last decade, their hated rival Marseille are still the only French club to ever lift the Champions League trophy. The 1992-93 Marseille team managed by Raymond Goethals battled their way to the newly rebranded Champions League final and won against one of the strongest team in European football history.
The 1992 Europe season began with the rebrand of the Champions League tournament. Seeking a more glamourous look to the competition and (gasp) an American sheen, the European Cup was renamed the Champions League and the most exciting club competition in the world of football was born.
Marseille kicked off their Champions League campaign by eliminating Glentoran and Dinamo Bucharest before joining the group stage. They then topped Group A which featured Rangers, Club Brugge, and CSKA Moscow. The tournament was completely different in 1992-93 to the one of today and Marseille qualified directly for the final after topping Group A.
AC Milan Thrashed Olimpija Ljubljana and Slovan Bratislava before going into the group stage. The Rossoneri had little difficulty topping Group B winning all six matches and conceding just one goal against PSV Eindhoven, Goteborg, and FC Porto.
Going into the game, AC Milan had won the 1989 and 1990 European Cups. They were one of the best teams ever assembled featuring Paolo Maldini, Franco Baresi, Alessandro Costacurta, and Marco van Basten. Marseille had little chance going into the fixture thanks to AC Milan’s firepower, but the tournament’s final was about to set the stage for the Champions League’s unpredictable future.
Played at Munich’s Olympiastadion, the final welcomed over 64,000 fans to the game. The game started out cagey with Marseille aiming to break down one of the best defences to ever play the game featuring Mauro Tassotti, Maldini, Costacurta, and Baresi.
In spite of AC Milan’s great defence, it was Marseille’s rearguard that held firm keeping a clean sheet against the Italians. The game’s only goal came just before halftime as Marseille’s Basile Boli headed home Abedi Pele’s in-swinging corner. AC Milan goalkeeper Sebastiano Rossi was rooted to the spot and merely watched the ball fly into the net. Marseille held on to win the match but that was just a small part for Marseille.
The drama of the game carried over into the weeks that followed. It emerged that Marseille owner Bernard Tapie and the club had paid French rivals Valenciennes players to throw their game. The win gave Marseille the French league title. In addition, accusations were made against Marseille’s medical staff claiming players were given unknown injections before the Champions League final. Marseille centre-back Jean-Jacques Eydelie levelled the accusation of the dodgy injections against the club in his autobiography which was denied by FIFA after opening an investigation over it.
What was a great victory over one of the best AC Milan teams of all time ended in disgrace. Marseille are still considered Champions League final winners but it is a tarnished trophy. In the years since the club’s win, former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, then the coach at Monaco, has spoken out about the state of French football during that time period and the corruption he witnessed. It was an era to forget for France.