The 1970s was to be the decade of the Supermannschaft – the dominant and supremely confident German side that would sweep all before it, winning both the World and European titles in the process. The team of Franz Beckenbauer, Günter Netzer and Gerd Müller would likewise dominate its games against England, whom they played five times during the course of the decade. They were to lose only once, and this when fielding a weakened side at Wembley in 1975.
The first meeting of the decade between the two sides would be the World Cup quarter-final in the stifling heat of the Mexican city of León: Germany had certainly come a long way but England, with a squad that was by all accounts more superior to the one that had won the tournament four years earlier, were firm favourites.
When the Three Lions went 2-0 up, many would have started thinking about the semi-final: but what happened afterwards would remain etched in the memories of the people who witnessed it at the time and those born afterwards who found themselves transfixed by the warm and hazy 1970s footage. A Bonetti mistake, a Beckenbauer strike. Then Seeler. Finally, Müller. If there was one game where the now much-used adage “never discount the Germans” was first used in anger, León 1970 was it. A tired German side would fall prey to Italy in a seven-goal semi-final thriller, but the Supermannschaft had been born.
Germany and England next met in the first leg of the European Championship quarter-final playoff at Wembley in 1972, and it would serve to illustrate just how far the balance of power between the two nations had shifted. It was no longer just a simple turning of the tide: there was what could only be described as clear blue water between them.
As if to hammer home the point, between 1972 and the end of the decade Germany had reached three major tournament finals, winning two of them; England meanwhile had failed to make it past the qualifiers.
León 1970, FIFA World Cup Quarter-Final
Wembley 1972, UEFA European Championship Second Qualifying Phase/Quarter-Final 1st Leg
Berlin 1972, UEFA European Championship Second Qualifying Phase/Quarter-Final 2nd Leg
Wembley 1975, Friendly International
München 1978, Friendly International