The team that had won the European Championship in Belgium in 1972 had been lauded as one of the finest German sides of all time, and hopes had been high for the World Cup finals which were to be held for the first time on home soil. Helmut Schön’s side were blessed with an array of talent from goalkeeper Sepp Maier through to the irrepressible Gerd Müller, and were seen by many in Germany as a shoo-in for their second tournament victory.

Things were not so harmonious in the German camp however, with the preparation and build up to the campaign plagued by what was a rather distasteful drama over player bonuses. In 1954 Sepp Herberger had led a wholly amateur side to the world title, and many had feared the onset of professionalism; twenty years later and not even ten years after the formation of the Bundesliga, their worst fears had been realised. Suddenly, playing for your country was not enough: the Italians and Dutch had been promised bonuses for winning the tournament, and the Germans didn’t want to miss out.

Thus began a series of negotiations that threatened to derail the entire World Cup campaign. Nationaltrainer Helmut Schön wanted nothing to do with it, and had even been prepared to send the entire squad home and replace them with less heralded reserves; DFB supremo Hermann Neuberger meanwhile was making deals with Franz Beckenbauer, who had been installed as the players’ representative.

This was all happening less than a week before the team were due to kick off the tournament against Chile.

With the Nationaltrainer on the verge of a nervous breakdown and the players on the brink of throwing away their international careers, the matter was settled. Once again it was Beckenbauer who called the shots, encouraging the players to settle for a winning bonus of 70,000 Deutschmarks each. All that remained was for them to get their game together and earn it – though the very thought of negotiating for money at all clearly stuck in the craw of Helmut Schön, who must have wondered what the players’ real motivations were.

Any feelings of doubt on the part of the coach would have been amplified in the opening game, where the Chileans were defeated by a single goal after what had been a performance unbecoming of a team that were both tournament hosts and reigning European Champions. The second game against minnows Australia was not that much better, with the team going through the motions in what was a somewhat flattering 3-0 win. With two wins out of two a place in the second phase had been assured, but the third game was one nobody in Germany was ever going to take lightly – the first and what turned out to be only match-up between the Mannschaft and their counterparts from the communist German Democratic Republic.

As well as being the obvious political match-up, the fixture had additional meaning for the Nationaltrainer who had been born in the eastern city of Dresden – now part of the GDR. It was, quite clearly, a win-at-all-costs fixture. With the atmosphere in the country being whipped up by the popular press, Schön’s side had won the game before a ball even been kicked. Nobody had bothered to share this script with the East Germans or their midfielder Jürgen Sparwasser, whose goal was to settle the issue and create a political furore on both sides of the wall.

Jürgen Sparwasser scores the winner for the GDR in what would be the only international between the two Germanies

First Phase Group 1 v Chile, Olympiastadion, West Berlin, 14.06.1974
Chile

1-0 (1-0)
Breitner 18. / –

Germany FR: Maier – Vogts, Breitner – Schwarzenbeck, Beckenbauer (c), Cullmann – Overath (76. Hölzenbein), U. Hoeneß, Grabowski, G. Müller, Heynckes

Chile: Vallejos – García, Figueroa, Quintano, Arias – Valdés (80. Véliz), Rodríguez (84. Lara), Reinoso – Caszely, Ahumada, Páez

Referee: Doğan Babacan (Turkey)
Assistants: Jack Taylor (England), Werner Winsemann (Canada)

Yellow Cards: – / Garcia, Reinoso, Caszely
Red Cards: – / Caszely 67.

Attendance: 81,100

First Phase Group 1 v Australia, Volksparkstadion, Hamburg, 18.06.1974
Australia

3-0 (2-0)
Overath 12., Cullmann 34., Müller 53. / –

Germany FR: Maier – Vogts, Breitner – Schwarzenbeck, Beckenbauer (c), Cullmann (68. Wimmer) – U. Hoeneß, Overath, Grabowski, G. Müller, Heynckes (46. Hölzenbein)

Australia: Reilly – Utjesenovic, Schaefer, Wilson, Curran – Richards, Rooney, Mackay – Campbell (46. Abonyi), Alston, Buljevic (61. Ollerton)

Referee: Mahmoud Mustafa Kamil (Egypt)
Assistants: Alfonso Gonzalez Archundia (Mexico), Edison A. Pérez Nuñez (Peru)

Yellow Cards: – / Mackay
Red Cards: – / –

Attendance: 53,300

First Phase Group 1 v Germany DR, Parkstadion, Gelsenkirchen, 22.06.1974
Germany DR

0-1 (0-0)
– / Sparwasser 78.

Germany FR: Maier – Vogts, Breitner – Beckenbauer (c), Schwarzenbeck (68. Höttges), Cullmann – U. Hoeneß, Overath (69. Netzer), Grabowski, G. Müller, Flohe

Germany DR: Croy – Kische, Weise, Bransch, Wätzlich – Lauck, Irmscher (66. Hamann), Kreische, Kurbjuweit – Sparwasser, Hoffmann

Referee: Ramón Ivanoes Barreto Ruiz (Uruguay)
Assistants: Armando Marques (Brazil), Luis Pestarino (Argentina)

Yellow Cards: – / Sparwasser, Croy, Kreische
Red Cards: – / –

Attendance: 60,200

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
Germany DRGermany DR (Q)321041+35
GermanyGermany FR (Q)320141+34
ChileChile302112-12
AustraliaAustralia301205-51

Other results: Germany DR 2-0 Australia; Chile 1-1 Germany DR; Australia 0-0 Chile.

As well as providing the communist East with a major source of political capital, the defeat in Hamburg also drove coach Helmut Schön to the very edge of sanity. It also served as something of a spark to the team, whose mission it now was to save themselves from being seen as a laughing stock. Losing to the GDR was bad enough. If the first phase was lucklustre and devoid of spirit, the three second phase matches witnessed a clear change in approach and mentality. A 2-0 win over Yugoslavia was followed by an entertaining 4-2 defeat of Sweden took the Mannschaft onto four points from two games – with the final game against Poland deciding who would take their place in the final.

Inspired by the balding genius Grzegorz Lato, the Poles had won all five of their matches at the tournament, dispatching both Argentina and 1970 finalists Italy in the first phase. Wins against the Swedes and Yugoslavs in the second phase group had taken them level with Germany on four points, but with an inferior goal difference – meaning that the Germans only needed a draw in Frankfurt’s Waldstadion to reach the final.

As the day of the game drew near, there were fears that the pitch would be unplayable; days of unrelenting and heavy rain had turned much of the pitch into a quagmire, resulting in the kickoff being delayed as – quite literally – all hands were put to the pump. In scenes virtually unseen today due to the presence of sophisticated pitch draining systems, tens of pitch staff and the local fire brigade set about removing the excess water. The conditions led to the match being dubbed Der Wasserschlacht von Frankfurt – “the water battle of Frankfurt” – though perhaps rather ironically, the match kicked off in bright sunlight.

Playing in an all-white strip, Schön’s side were able to withstand everything the Poles threw at them during the first forty-five minutes – with der Katze von Anzing Sepp Maier producing a series of brave saves. Germany had to wait until the second half to really get back into the game, and had the perfect opportunity to take the lead from the penalty spot when Bernd Hölzenbein was upended in the box by Władysław Żmuda – but Uli Hoeneß’ shot was weak, and was easily saved by Polish ‘keeper Jan Tomaszewski. It was to be the last penalty missed in normal time by any German player until South Africa 2010 when Lukas Podolski – ironically, Polish-born – had his spot-kick saved against Serbia.

With fifteen minutes left on the clock, Hölzenbein found space in midfield, threading a neat ball through two Polish defenders that found Rainer Bonhof inside the area. Managing to stay on his feet in what was quickly turning into a quagmire, Bonhof laid the ball inside to Gerd Müller, who settled himself before drilling a first-time shot into the back of the net. It was Der Bomber’s thirteenth World Cup finals goal, drawing him level with Just Fontaine. Wolfgang Overath forced a great save from Tomaszewski before Maier pulled out another magnificent stop to keep the score at 1-0 – and Germany had made it through into the final.

Second Phase Group B v Yugoslavia, Rheinstadion, Düsseldorf, 26.06.1974
Yugoslavia

2-0 (1-0)
Breitner 39, Müller 82. / –

Germany FR: Maier – Vogts, Breitner – Beckenbauer (c), Schwarzenbeck, Bonhof – Wimmer (66. U. Hoeneß), Overath, Hölzenbein (73. Flohe), G. Müller, D. Herzog

Yugoslavia: Marić – Buljan, Katalinski, Mužinić, Hadžiabdić – Oblak (84. Petković), Jovan Aćimović, Šurjak – Popivoda, Karasi, Džajić (84. Jerković)

Referee: Armando Marques (Brazil)
Assistants: Aurelio Angonese (Italy), Edison A. Pérez Nuñez (Peru)

Yellow Cards: Overath, Vogts / Buljan, Hadžiabdić
Red Cards: – / –

Attendance: 67,385

Second Phase Group B v Sweden, Rheinstadion, Düsseldorf, 30.06.1974
Sweden

4-2 (0-1)
Overath 51., Bonhof 52., Grabowski 76., U. Hoeneß pen 89. / Edström 24., Sandberg 53.

Germany FR: Maier – Vogts, Breitner – Schwarzenbeck, Beckenbauer (c), Bonhof – U. Hoeneß, Overath, Hölzenbein (81. Flohe), G. Müller, D. Herzog (66. Grabowski)

Sweden: Hellström – Olsson, Nordqvist, Karlsson, Augustsson – Grahn, Bo Larsson (32. Ejderstedt), Tapper – Torstensson, Edström, Sandberg

Referee: Pavel Kazakov (Soviet Union)
Assistants: Nicolai Rainea (Romania), Augusto Pablo Sanchez Ibáñez (Spain)

Yellow Cards: Grahn / –
Red Cards: – / –

Attendance: 67,800

Second Phase Group B v Poland, Waldstadion, Frankfurt, 03.07.1974
Poland

1-0 (0-0)
Hoeneß pen 53., Müller 76. / –

Germany FR: Maier – Vogts, Breitner – Schwarzenbeck, Beckenbauer (c), Bonhof – U. Hoeneß, Overath, Grabowski, G. Müller, Hölzenbein

Poland: Tomaszewski – Szymanowski, Gorgoń, Żmuda, Musiał – Maszczyk (80. Kmiecik), Deyna, Kasperczak (80. Ćmikiewicz) – Lato, Domarski, Gadocha

Referee: Erich Linemayr (Austria)
Assistants: Károly Palotai (Hungary), Rudolf Scheurer (Switzerland)

Yellow Cards: – / –
Red Cards: – / –

Attendance: 62,000

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
GermanyGermany FR (QF)330072+56
PolandPoland (Q3P)320132+14
SwedenSweden310246-22
YugoslaviaYugoslavia300326-40

Other results: Sweden 0-1 Poland; Poland 2-1 Yugoslavia; Sweden 2-1 Yugoslavia.

The final in Munich’s Olympiastadion pitted the Mannschaft against the free-spirited Dutch – a side loved by every neutral boasting an array of star names. Germany had improved in leaps and bounds to reach the final, but after something of a slow start themselves the Oranje had truly started to impress: while Germany only really had one hard game in their second phase – that against Poland – the Dutch had overcome both of the South American superpowers, Argentina and reigning world champions Brazil.

Having been delayed by mysteriously absent corner flags, the game began in dramatic and controversial fashion. Before a German player had even put a foot on the ball, the Dutch were a goal up. Having retained possession straight from the kickoff, Johan Cruyff had charged into the box, evading a tackle from Berti Vogts before being challenged by Uli Hoeneß. Johan Neeskens smashed home the spot-kick. At this point the Dutch chose to play around rather than kill the game off, which gave Helmut Schön’s side time to recover their poise.

With some twenty-five minutes gone, Eintracht Frankfurt’s legendary penalty-winner Bernd Hölzenbein went down under a challenge from Wim Jansen; English referee Jack Taylor pointed to the spot. Hölzenbein had made a reputation for himself in the Bundesliga for going down easily under the challenge, but while he might have made something of a meal of Jansen’s challenge, there’s no doubt that the decision was the correct one. The Mannschaft’s resident cigar-chomping Maoist Paul Breitner took the responsibility for the Elfmeter, and levelled the scores.

Having been given a foothold in the game, Germany then upped the pressure – even Berti Vogts was foraying forward and pulling a great save from Dutch ‘keeper Jan Jongbloed. “Total football” perhaps, though in monochrome Schwarz und Weiß as opposed to lurid orange. The great footballing artists from the Netherlands were matched man for man: Der Kaiser Franz Beckenbauer was supreme, Vogts – living up to his reputation as Der Terrier – kept a firm but fair leash on the dangerous Cruyff, and Der Bomber Gerd Müller was – well, Der Bomber.

With two minutes to go to the half-time break the little man from Nördlingen pounced on Rainer Bonhof’s cutback into the box before swivelling past a static Ruud Krol. His right foot shot beat an equally motionless Jongbloed. With the ball nestled in the back of the net, Germany’s greatest goal-poacher provided viewers with his familiar leaping celebration. Müller had now scored fourteen World Cup finals goals, surpassing Fontaine; Der Bomber was not only Germany’s greatest goalscorer, he was now the World Cup’s greatest goalscorer too.

With a typical swivel and shot, Gerd Müller scores West Germany’s second goal in München to clinch their second World Cup title

Try as they might in what was an end-to-end second half, the Dutch could not get themselves back into the game. If their passes didn’t fall short, they met the immovable object that was Sepp Maier – and on one occasion, the post.

Helmut Schön’s side should have had the game safely wrapped up when Müller put the ball into the net for a second time after he latched onto a smart cross from Jürgen Grabowski – only to have the effort chalked off for offside. A second look clearly suggested that the decision was woefully incorrect as Müller was a good two yards in front of the defender when the ball was played into the box, but the Germans simply got on with the game with little protest. One can only wonder how the increasingly petulant Dutch would have reacted had things been the other way around.

Hölzenbein was also brought down in the box again not long afterwards, and although the case for a penalty looked a whole lot stronger than the first one, referee Taylor waved play on.

Thankfully for all concerned these decisions didn’t matter. The score remained 2-1 at the final whistle, and Germany had – somehow, in spite of all of the early adversity – secured their second World Cup final victory. In doing so, the Nationalmannschaft became the first country to hold both the FIFA World Cup and UEFA European Championship titles at the same time. The Dutch may have been lauded as this, that and the other – but in the final analysis they simply were not up to the task.

The victorious German team with the World Cup trophy. Holding it is skipper Franz Beckenbauer, with Nationaltrainer Helmut Schön seated to his right

Many commentators, particularly those from this side of the Channel, have stated time and again that the Dutch deserved to win the 1974 tournament: I would beg to differ, and this isn’t just because I am a fan of the Nationalmannschaft. Anyone who watches the entire ninety minutes can see that the Germans were more than a match for the Dutch on the day both in terms of application and skill, and were far from the staid and boring outfit of media myth that unfairly spoiled Cruyff and Co.’s party of footballing freedom and expression. So perhaps on another day the Dutch might have fashioned a result – but one can also say that on another day Germany could have won the game by a bigger margin.

While one clearly has to acknowledge the Oranje and their philosophy of “Total Football”, the truth is that reality often gets clouded up in the foggy haze of popular mythology and oft-repeated archive clips. Johan Cruyff’s cut inside and turn against Sweden may get repeated again and again, but it never won a tournament – it didn’t even result in a goal. I’ll be blunt about it: the Dutch – and all of their hangers-on – can have their pretty yet meaningless “Cruyff turn”. I’d rather have Gerd Müller’s wonderfully-taken 43rd-minute winner.

Final v Netherlands, Olympiastadion, München, 07.07.1974
Netherlands

2-1 (2-1)
Breitner pen 25., Müller 43. / Neeskens pen 2.

Germany FR: Maier – Vogts, Breitner – Schwarzenbeck, Beckenbauer (c), Bonhof – U. Hoeneß, Overath, Grabowski, G. Müller, Hölzenbein

Netherlands: Jongbloed – Suurbier, Rijsbergen (68. de Jong), Haan, Krol – Jansen, Neeskens, van Hanegem – Rep, Cruyff, Rensenbrink (46. R. van de Kerkhof)

Referee: Jack Taylor (England)
Assistants: Alfonso Gonzalez Archundia (Mexico), Ramón Ivanoes Barreto Ruiz (Uruguay)

Yellow Cards: Vogts / van Hanegem, Neeskens, Cruyff
Red Cards: – / –

Attendance: 78,200

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    7 thoughts on “Germany 1974 Tournament Results and Overview

    • April 23, 2012 at 19:33
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      I was willing Spain to get knocked out in the group stage. The foul on Özil was a disgrace – a clear penalty. Sergio Ramos if I remember correctly. I just hope die Mannschaft can do it at this summer’s Euros.

      Reply
    • April 22, 2012 at 12:56
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      Chef I am so glad you said you’re not a fan of Spain. I am the same. I find their ‘tika-taka’ game infuriating. Didn’t Germany call it ‘death by a thousand passes?’ I just hope that the Germany team at the 2010 wc will be looked on as one of the greats that never won the wc. They were moral victors at least. The first team to score 4 goals in a match on three occasions in the same finals since the great Brazil ’70 team. An ideal 2010 world cup for me would have been a Germany v Uruguay final.

      Reply
      • April 23, 2012 at 11:40
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        There are a couple of things I look at in that tournament: Paraguay blowing their chance to knock out Spain, and Mesut Özil not being awarded a penalty just before half-time in the semi when he was clearly tripped inside the box.

        Had Spain gone a goal down at that stage, I don’t think they would have had the tactical wherewithall to come back into it.

        I would have loved to have seen the Mannschaft stuff the Dutch in the final.

        Reply
    • April 20, 2012 at 22:07
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      I have always been of the opinion that the West German team of 1974 were as good, if not better, than the Dutch. As for ‘total football’, well the Germans had 7 different scorers in their 7 games to the Dutch’s 6 – proof that they didn’t have to rely completely on the Bomber all of the time. Another thing that rankles is the move referred to as ‘the Cruyff turn.’ I’ve seen footage of Garrincha doing this same move long before Cruyff (and there were more than likely others before him). Another annoyance is this ridiculous assumption that the West Germans ‘threw’ the DDR game enabling them to avoid a group containing the Dutch, Brazil and Argentina. The Dutch drew 0:0 with Sweden in the first round group (and let us not forget this, they only finished above Belgium in the qualis due to goal difference. They drew both games v Belgium 0:0). I personally would have been happy to play in a team consisting of Beckenbauer, Maier, Muller, Overath and Breitner (and a host of others) without fearing the opposition.

      Reply
      • April 21, 2012 at 00:30
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        Couldn’t agree more Mark. If I had the time and resources I’d happily try and put together a work debunking the almost mythological status the Dutch team of 1974 have attained in the eyes of a rather sycophantic media.

        It’s the same with the 1988 team, which was inconsistent at best. Everyone remembers van Basten’s hat-trick against a poor England side and his volley in the final, but everybody forgets the opening defeat against the USSR and the scratchy win against the Republic of Ireland.

        As for the semi-final, nobody remembers van Basten’s ridiculous stumble and crumble.

        Reply
        • April 21, 2012 at 16:38
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          Don’t get me started on the ’88 team Admin! As you say, they were fortunate to win that tournament. I think Littbarski missed the game through a stomach bug (or something?) If he had played I am convinced Germany would have defeated the oranje. As for the ‘stumble’ by van Basten you mention…we all remember he did it in the ’90 game as well. Went down like he had been shot. Unfortunately the referee was conned but it didn’t matter in that wc game. That 1990 game was one of the greatest performances ever by a German team. Have you read ‘Football Against the Enemy’ by Simon Kuper? I found his comments absurd – that ‘the Dutch, for a time (1988 etc) had some of the greatest players ever and the Germans some of the dullest.’ This ‘second Dutch coming’ is another falsehood. They were lucky in ’88 and they have always managed to underachieve at the world cup. They were an abomination at the 2010 world cup. To quote Kuper, Germany now has some of the greatest players in the world and the Dutch some of the dullest! How it took van Bommel so long to get a booking is one of life’s mysteries.

          Reply
          • April 21, 2012 at 22:19
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            Great comment Mark: your reply actually reminded me to set up my gravatar and pen name, so a good result all ’round!

            I think we could moan for hours about Euro ’88… Yep, Litti was not fully fit (he came on after 85 minutes) and I think his not being on the pitch for the full ninety might have tipped the scales in favour of the Dutch. In fairness to van Basten he seemed to stumble in 1988 and did look a little surprised to see Igna point to the spot – though in 1990 he had clearly learned that going down in the box with Jürgen Kohler in close proximity was a guaranteed Elfmeter-winner. The 1990 effort made Greg Louganis look like am amateur, and even the man oft-accused of being Europe’s #1 diver (Klinsi) could never have pulled that sort of move off. Funny that van Basten never had the “diver” thing stick, however: he was just as prolific for Milan.

            I have never really felt anything for the Dutch – funny, that – and have always felt that they have been overrated. 1974 – a great side but one that was fairly beaten by a better German team. 1978 – lucky to make the final in that silly one-team-in setup with their last gasp equaliser against the Mannschaft that might have led to a different approach against Austria. 1988 – as we have said.

            As for the 2010 vintage, the less said about them the better. I am not a fan of tika-taka Spain either, and like many World Cup finals not involving Germany I actually wanted both sides to lose.

            Reply

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