When you hear the place Georgia you might think of the American state and not the country along the Black Sea sandwiched between Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey. Georgia has fewer people than and state of American, but it does have a well-known football team and that is Dinamo Tbilisi
Founded in 1925 Dinamo Tbilsi is the most well-known, successful, and most supported team from Georgia. Back in the days of the Soviet Union and the Soviet Union football leagues, Dinamo were regular contenders for the title finishing 2nd and 3rd 10 times before reaching the top spot. They eventually won the league in 1968 after going on an end-of-season 15 game unbeaten run. After the final day's matches of the season, Dinamo Tbilisi and Torpedo Moscow were level on points which in those days meant the two teams would face-off in a one-off match. That match took place in Tashkent, Uzbekistan and on that day Tbilisi were on fire as they thrashed their rivals from Moscow 4-1 crowing them champions and giving them their first ever league title. They would only go on to win one more title which came in 1978, but Dinamo Tbilisi were only one of two clubs to never be relegated from the Soviet Union’s topflight in over 30 seasons.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Dinamo Tbilisi dominated its domestic league winning 10 league titles in a row from its birth. Today they hold the record for most league titles (17) and Georgian Cups(13) in their country.
Without question their greatest success comes from winning the Cup Winner’s Cup in the 1980-1981 season. Dinamo knocked out West Ham and Feyenoord along the way before coming from behind to beat FC Carl Zeiss Jena in the final 2-1 in Jena’s own country of Germany. They are the only Georgian team to win a major European competition. The following season they also had another good run in the same competition which took them to the semi-final, but they lost 2-0 to Standard Liège on aggregate. In modern times, Dinamo Tbilisi struggle to compete with the giants of European football. They did qualify for the Europa League group stage in 2004, but since then they have had no real success qualifying for either the Europa League or the Champions League group stages.
Dinamo Tbilisi have produced some top players over the years who went on to be very successful in some of Europe’s top leagues including the quick feet of Georgi Kinkladze, the goal machine Shota Arveladze, who holds the records for most goals scored from any Georgian footballer, and two time Champions League winner and now currently – June 2020 – mayor of Tbilisi, Kakha Kaladze.
If you're ever in Tbilisi, we recommend you go and watch a game at their 54,202 seated stadium.
Read the text and then prepare to retell it in your own words
To be Sandwiched - to be in the middle of something
Contenders - teams who could win a competition
Top spot - 1st place in the league
Unbeaten Run - to win or draw games over many games
Face-off - to play another team when there can only be one winner
On fire - to play or do something really well
Thrash - to beat a team by a high score
Rivals - teams in your local area or competitors
Relegated - when a team goes to the lower league because they finish bottom or near the bottom
Topflight - the highest level
Domestic - in the same country
Come from behind - when you are losing first, but then win
Good run - when you win several games in a row
On Aggregate - this is the total score after a home and away game in Europe
Struggle - to find something hard
You can find more football vocabulary here
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a) Do you think it will be possible for a team from a small country to win a major European trophy again? Why?
b) Do you know any of the players mentioned that Dinamo Tbilisi produced?
c) What do you know about UEFA Europa Conference League? What do you think about this?
a) What do you know about Georgia?
b) Have you ever heard of Dinamo Tbilisi?
c) Do you know any big teams from 'small' countries in football? Who?