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1970/71: Cruyff pulls the strings

With Johan Cruyff to the fore, Rinus Michel's AFC Ajax demonstrated their 'totaal voetbal' philosophy in the European Champion Clubs' Cup, with Panathinaikos FC unable to lay a glove on them in the Wembley final.

1970/71: Cruyff pulls the strings
1970/71: Cruyff pulls the strings ©UEFA.com

AFC Ajax 2-0 Panathinaikos FC
(Van Dijk 5, Haan 87)
Wembley, London

Totaal voetbal: a fluid form of catenaccio or total football? Whatever it was, it worked and in 1970/71 its chief exponent, AFC Ajax, were European champions. The Amsterdam side took over the mantle from Dutch rivals Feyenoord, the holders having been waylaid in the First Round by Romania's FC UTA Arad. That result was in keeping with the rest of the competition, for with no Real Madrid CF in the field, the underdogs were well and truly let out; indeed, only two of the 33 teams involved were previous winners.

Ajax accounted for the other, Celtic FC, in the quarter-finals, along with 17 Nëntori Tirana, FC Basel and Club Atlético de Madrid. In the other half of the draw, Panathinaikos FC benefited from a couple of rule changes to become the first Greek finalist. UEFA had introduced the penalty shoot-out as a way of deciding drawn ties - doing away with the unsatisfactory tossing of a coin. They had also decided that the away-goals' rule should apply to all rounds, and not just the first two as had been the case.

The latter change helped Ferenc Puskás's side past Everton FC - conquerors of VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach in the cup's first penalty drama - in the quarter-finals, then FK Crvena Zvezda in the semis. Here Panathinaikos overturned a 4-1 defeat in Belgrade to win the return 3-0 with two goals from Anton Antoniadis. The final was all Ajax, though. Dick van Dijk was first to show, putting Rinus Michel's team into an early lead; and with Johan Cruyff pulling the strings, Arie Haan sealed the victory on 87 minutes.