WIth their 3-1 defeat of Sporting Gijon last Saturday, Real Madrid scored their 105th, 106th, and 107th goals of the season to equal their own 22-year-old league scoring record. A single goal at the Nou Camp on this Saturday- not an easy accomplishment, of course- will make Jose Mourinho’s side the highest-scoring in Spanish football history.
It was Welshman John Benjamin Toshack (as most Spanish I’ve met insist on calling him) who was in charge at the Santiago Bernabeu for the 1989-90 season when the 107-goal record was first set, and leading his side to that incredible achievement – they were also crowned league champions -surely ranks among the greatest Lost Boyo feats of all time.
Toshack had already had four successful years in Spain before he arrived in Madrid. At Real Sociedad, the Welshman won the Copa del Rey and led La Real to the league runners-up spot, before the capital club came calling. Those four years were also some of Madrid’s most successful since the Puskas and Di Stefano era and when Toshack arrived they were looking for a fifth straight Spanish title.
The new Welsh coach was joined that summer by several new additions to the playing squad: Argentina’s Oscar Ruggeri joined from Logrones and a young Fernando Hierro joined from Malaga, with goalkeeper Julen Lopetegui and Antonio Parra also arriving.
Both of Toshack’s main signings would play a prominent role in his team’s 3-5-2 set-up. In goal for most of the campaign was Francisco Buyo. Ruggeri and Hierro lined up as part of a back three alongside Manolo Sanchis, one of four members of the famous Quinta del Buitre that featured heavily in Toshack’s side. In midfield, Miguel Chendo and Rafael Gordillo played out wide with Michel, Martin Vazquez and Bernd Schuster the attack-minded central midfielders. In attack, Toshack paired Mexico’s Hugo Sanchez with El Buitre himself, Emilio Butragueno.
Pre-season went well. Despite defeats to Steaua Bucharest and PSV Eindhoven, there were wins against Santander, Betis (on pens), Spartak Moscow, FC Tirol, and Liverpool and Madrid carried this form into the opening rounds of the league. In their first five games, Toshack’s Madrid went unbeaten, getting home wins against Sporting (2-0), Valencia (6-2), and Cadiz (4-1) and two goalless draws away from home against Castellon and Mallorca.
Matchday six gave Toshack his first taste of El Clasico. Real took an early lead from a Hugo Sanchez penalty, but by the time the clock showed 15 minutes, Barcelona were level through Julio Salinas and Madrid had lost captain Butragueno to injury. In a game Barca dominated, Ronald Koeman got two second half penalties to end Madrid’s unbeaten start and Schuster was sent off late-on.
Madrid were victorious in their next three games, before Toshack took his side to San Sebastian to face his former Real Sociedad charges on matchday ten. Toshack signing John Aldridge, the first ever non-Basque signed by La Real, opened the scoring for the home side and ten minutes later Gataje doubled the lead. Losada pulled one back late on, but the game ended in a second defeat of the season.
Three days prior to the defeat in San Sebastian, Madrid had been knocked out of the European Cup by Arrigo Sacchi’s Milan, and, despite being top of the league, Toshack found himself under pressure.
Eight of the next ten games ended in victory. In those ten fixtures, Real scored 32 goals. The pressure eased. At the season’s halfway stage, Madrid were top of the league, unbeaten at home, and with 56 goals were already on their way to breaking the 100-goal barrier.
The unbeaten run continued right through until the end of the season. The two defeats suffered away at Madrid’s greatest rivals and Toshack’s old club were avenged: Barcelona fought back from 3-0 down to 3-2, but an equaliser evaded them as they had Koeman and Aloisio sent off; Real Sociedad were dispatched 3-0.
Toshack delivered Madrid’s fifth straight title with four games to spare, although realistically the title had not been in doubt for some time. The final margin of victory was huge. Madrid, despite the league still only awarding two points for a win, finished nine points ahead of Valencia (although a sign of their dominance at this time is that they had twice had a larger winning margin in that five year-period).
Fernando Hierro scored the 100th goal in the penultimate fixture- a 3-3 draw with Atleti- and the record 107 was achieved with a 5-2 home win against Oviedo in the final game at the Bernabeu. Hugo Sanchez scored a hat-trick in that match to end the season as Picchichi with 38 goals (from just 35 starts, and, as stated on Guardian Football Weekly by Sid Lowe recently and supported in the video below, not one of the goals required more than a single touch). The team’s mammoth scoring total was 40 more than runners-up Valencia and 25 more than the league’s next highest scorers, Barcelona.
Toshack departed early the next season, as Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona Dream Team began their period of domestic domination. However, Toshack’s free-scoring team continues to be remembered fondly. Given their strengths, it is a testament to Toshack’s team’s achievement that is has taken so long for either the modern-day Real or Barca to match their record.