Individuals and groups

Situation favourability is another point of discussion, when considered that AC Milan are an Italian team, they may be viewed, if somewhat stereotypically, as a negative team; Italian teams have long had a reputation especially in European matches of scoring an early goal and then changing their playing emphasis to defend (even inventing a term for this style of play – catenaccio), it can be argued therefore that whilst the half-time scoreline of 3-0 did not flatter AC Milan, it left them in a somewhat unfamiliar situation, thus situation favourability decreases, whilst Liverpool from the English Premiership are more familiar with an attacking style of play, akin to that normally played in the Premiership.

This decrease in situation favourability could have many implications, including affecting the aforementioned dgs (Zander 1975), and perhaps more importantly attentional focus, changing from a focus to win to that of being in a seemingly unassailable position, and thus a focus to avoid defeat. Indeed LA REPUBBLICA, a Rome newspaper headlined; ‘Milan suicide, Liverpool triumph’ (LA REPUBBLICA cited on http://news. bbc. co. uk/sport1/hi/football/europe/4582585. stm), indicating what they thought was AC Milan’s failure rather than Liverpool’s success.

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There is research that also points to certain factors and evidence for Liverpool’s unlikely victory, Salminen (Scandinavian journal of sports sciences; Apr 1987. p 25-31 ) argued that a team that has won their previous match (in Liverpool’s case they won their second leg semi-final against Chelsea) feel themselves to be more cohesive than one that has lost the previous match (in Milan’s case they lost their second leg semi-final against PSV Eindhoven), this point of view is of course critical to the concept of group cohesion.

Further research by Essing (Interbnational Society os Sports Psychology Congress. Contemporary Psychology of Sport Proceedings; 1968 p.349-354) suggests consistency of soccer team line up and the higher the average member participation the higher the team success, this idea may be consistent with the fact that AC Milan have more resources in terms of squad number at their disposal compared with Liverpool, this can be discussed in conjunction with Steiner’s model of team performance (1972) where; Actual productivity = potential productivity – losses due to faulty group processes (Steiner 1972 taken from Weinberg & Gould 2003 p 167)

The Milan team arguably had greater potential productivity according to Steiner but suffered greater losses thus less actual productivity, whilst Essing (1968) suggests that as Milan had greater resources consistency of team line-up was less that of Liverpool, therefore debilitating success.

The theory and research mentioned in the above essay provides an argument for Liverpool’s success in overcoming AC Milan, this is based on the concept of Liverpool being the champion team and Milan the team of champions in Hodges statement, however as previously mentioned it can be argued that Milan had achieved great success as a team and thus deserve to be considered a champion team also, this opens the question into a different equation; that of a champion team vs. a champion team, based on this equation there is greater evidence for Milan being victorious over Liverpool considering that they have been together as a team longer, have a more experienced leader and captain (both having recent success in the Champions league competition), and in the opinion of many have better individual players than Liverpool.

The main factor that occurs through the literature for Liverpool’s unlikely victory centres on leadership, that of Benitez and Gerrard, and their proficiency and dexterity in being able to adapt to the situation that confronted them, turning an unfavourable situation into a favourable one, and ultimately success. The success of Liverpool is based on Hodges statement that they alone are the champion team, and although research and theory provides a case for their victory there is as much research and theory to argue the case that Milan should have won, therefore it may be useful to revise Hodges statement to read ‘a champion team should beat a team of champions’, allowing to take into account Milan’s undoubted potential for success.

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