With the Football Season on temporary lock down; Toffee Analysis has decided to go back in time. In this mini series, we will analyse some of Everton’s best ever matches, starting at what has been described as “Goodison’s Greatest Night”, 35-years to the day. Everton versus Bayern Munich.
Goodison Park has been home to some of Everton’s greatest ever teams. Dixie Dean’s sixty-goal season, Harry Catterick’s finest works, but no team has quite reached the levels that Howard Kendall had accomplished. Going into this game, Everton had been unbeaten since Boxing Day, virtually steamrolling the Championship in the process, also reaching the club’s first ever European semi-final.
The Germans dispatched Roma in the previous round; a team captained by a certain Carlo Ancelotti. When Bayern Munich travelled to Merseyside for the return leg of the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, the stakes were incredibly high. Both teams were looking to achieve a treble-winning season, all to play for after a goalless draw in Bavaria.
Howard Kendall started Everton in the 4-4-2 formation, a line-up which can probably be remembered off by heart by most of those reading. For good measure, Neville Southall started between the posts. Gary Stevens, Kevin Ratcliffe, Derek Mountfield and Pat van den Hauwe completed a youthful defence. Peter Reid and Paul Bracewell started in midfield, with Trevor Steven and Kevin Sheedy on the wings. Scottish strikers, Andy Gray and Graeme Sharp, finished the Everton team.
Udo Lattek made one change to his team from the first leg, taking Michael Rummenigge off for Norbert Nachtweih, which subsequently altered their formation from a 4-4-2 into a 4-5-1 shape. The Bayern team included Jean-Marie Pfaff in goal, a defence consisting of Holger Willmer, Klaus Augenthaler, Norbert Eder and Hans Pflügler. Legendary midfielder Lothar Matthäus started in midfield, alongside Wolfgang Dremmler, Søren Lerby, Nachtweih and 19-year-old Ludwig Kögl. Dieter Hoeneß completed the Bayern Munich team that travelled to Goodison Park.
The Bayern Offside Trap
The first half brought plenty of aggression, without either team having the bite in the final third. Passing sequences were limited and neither team settled with the ball for long periods. Everton’s main route of attack would come from long passes towards Gray or Sharp, both working in proximity of each other, building from the flick-ons that either striker provided.
Bayern countered this with an offside trap, reminiscent of a similar system used by Cruyff’s Holland. When Everton looked likely to produce one of these long passes forward, the Bayern defensive line moved up, catching as many of their opponents offside as possible.
A prime example of Lattek’s system came fifteen minutes in, Kevin Ratcliffe receiving the ball on the halfway line, following a set-piece which was cleared. Within seconds, the entire Bayern Munich team pressed high up the field. Ratcliffe attempted to flick the ball over the team, knocked down in the process of moving forward, but rather than an Everton free-kick, Bayern caught Sheedy offside.
Although Everton had a few moments where they played through, Bayern managed to recover quickly in order chances being created. When they did not perform the offside trap, Lattek’s team remained compact in their own defensive third, aware of the aerial presence their opponents had.
When Pfaff attempted to distribute, Bayern flooded the Everton defensive line, most notably placing two players on Ratcliffe and Mountfield in these situations. However, distribution was sporadic and inconsistent, often bouncing for the backline to sweep up.
Everton had not conceded a single goal in the competition up to this point, thanks to the relentless aggression and high intensity that had set. Peter Reid and Paul Bracewell pressed the opposition midfield, performing tackles that were the norm during this time period. With two strong defensive systems being deployed, the game lacked in high quality chances.
Passing sequences were in single digits, followed by an inaccurate long pass forward or being dispossessed in the process. Neither side had a great deal of control, but a sharp one-two between Ludwig Kögl and Søren Lerby put the ball behind the Everton defence, exploiting the space behind Ratcliffe who had pressed the oncoming Bayern attack.
Kögl was one-versus-one with Neville Southall, the goalkeeper managing to stop the youngster, but the loose ball fell at the feet of Dieter Hoeneß. He rounded Southall, before placing the ball into the back of the net. Everton’s first goal they had conceded in the competition and an away goal advantage going into half time.
A more positive second half
After a lacklustre first half, Everton began the second in a much more positive manner. Not only were they more patient in possession, getting in better positions to perform more accurate long passes, but they also formed more direct chances at the Bayern goal. This was aided by Lattek’s decision to focus more on compacting their defensive third, rather than using the offside trap.
Everton’s main asset would be the incredible long throw-ins produced by Gary Stevens; capable of reaching the six-yard box. Kendall’s men equalised just two minutes into the second half, a long throw flicked on by Gray, before being put in by Graeme Sharp, his fourth goal of the competition.
Following the equaliser, the game slowed down with plenty of more fouls being thrown in, as well as heated exchanges between players; mostly involving Reid. The stoppages suited Bayern, who had struggled to break out of their own half to form any chances. Ludwig Kögl was their best asset on the offence, capable of beating any defender 1v1, as well as having the agility to ride the heavy tackles thrown at him.
Stevens had a hard time defending Kögl, but Everton pressed high on the youngster, and in numbers. This stopped Bayern progressing up the field, subsequently keeping Southall quiet as a result. Everton had several chances against the opposition, but few and far between to cause the visitors major problems.
However, long balls from the wide channels proved to be a problem for the opponents. With twenty minutes left, another Stevens throw-in provided Everton’s second goal. Pfaff came to collect, but the Bayern defenders below him caused the goalkeeper to miss the ball and bounce perfectly for Andy Gray.
Everton’s most famous counterattack
Lattek made a substitution following the goal, taking off Norbert Eder for Michael Rummenigge. Bayern started to commit more players forward, as well as playing a much higher line, in an attempt to get back into the game. Though Bayern threw more attackers in transitions, they lost their defensive structure as a result and Everton had began to threaten on the counter.
Bayern’s lack of organisation was showcased in Everton’s third goal to kill the tie. Following Willmer being dispossessed further forward, Nachtweih played Andy Gray and Trevor Steven onside on the transition forward. Kevin Sheedy produced an incredible, line breaking pass into the path of Gray, the Bayern team all over the place as a result. Steven’s double movement created space for Gray to play the ball in.
Steven scored to make it 3-1, a sensational counterattack. Kendall’s half time team talked proved to be right, “Get the ball into the box, the Gwladys Street will suck the ball into the net”, he proclaimed to his team. Everton’s fight back against one of European’s footballs great powerhouses will forever live long in the memory.
Deconstructing this match from the past showcases just how much the football world has changed over the past 35 years. Pressing beyond the middle third was non-existent, as well as playing possession out of the back, but there would be no benefit from either of these tactical plans with the pass back law in place.
Instead, the game was hotly contested in the midfield battles and aerial duels; in this case, Everton were well above their opponents and created the better chances because of it. What followed was Everton’s first, and only, European trophy to date, a remarkable achievement after a few dull years under Howard Kendall’s management. With the new stadium at Bramley Moore Dock edging ever closer, I doubt Goodison’s four walls would witness a night as great as this.