By Paul Saffer
UEFA Cup finalists Feyenoord can tread in the footsteps of Real Madrid CF, Internazionale FC and FC Barcelona when they play BV Borussia Dortmund in Rotterdam on Wednesday night. Victory for the Dutch club would make them the fourth team in European club competition history to win a final on home soil.
Home advantage tells
Madrid were the first to do so when they beat AC Fiorentina at the Santiago Bernabéu to lift the European Champion Clubs' Cup for a second time in 1957. UEFA had awarded them hosting rights the previous summer, and the Merengues took advantage with a 2-0 triumph. Inter were next - the San Siro providing an enhancing context for the talents of Helenio Herrera's side as they edged past SL Benfica 1-0 in the same competition in 1965. Then there was Barcelona's 2-1 victory over R. Standard de Liège in the 1982 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup.
A home success does not always follow, however. Juventus FC lost the final of the 1965 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup at their Stadio Comunale in Turin, Mate Fenyvesi's goal winning the trophy for Ferencvárosi TC. AS Roma's party also fell flat against Liverpool FC in the 1984 European Cup, when they lost on penalties after a 1-1 draw.
Positives outweigh negatives
Equally, it would be unwise to assume that Manchester United FC will be there at the conclusion of next season's UEFA Champions League competition at Old Trafford. Milan AC did not make it to San Siro last year, after all. Still, the positives seem to outweigh the negatives where playing on home ground is concerned. Manchester United FC and Liverpool's first acquaintance of the European Cup came at Wembley stadium in London, in 1968 and 1977 respectively. The Wembley setting also suited West Ham United FC against TSV 1860 München in the 1965 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup.
Local knowledge comes in handy
Nor did local knowledge harm AFC Ajax's chances against Internazionale in Rotterdam in 1972, or those of Dortmund against Juventus at the Olympiastadion 25 years later - both in the European Cup. In the Cup Winners' Cup, meanwhile, FC Bayern München did not have far to travel after their 1967 defeat of Rangers FC - the game having been staged at nearby Nürnburg. RSC Anderlecht had an even shorter journey after their 4-2 Heysel stadium thriller against West Ham in 1976.
Pride before a fall
To every rule, however, there is an exception. Witness FC Steaua Bucuresti's humbling of Barcelona in Seville. It was Italian hubris that was pricked when Ajax overcame Juventus in another penalty shootout in Rome in 1996. In fact, the only true home banker was the 1964 Fairs Cup final, contested by Real Zaragoza and Valencia CF, and won by the former at Camp Nou. Feyenoord have been warned.
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