The twelfth FIFA World Cup saw a return to Europe, with traditional powerhouse Spain playing host to what was an expanded tournament featuring twenty-four teams, and increase of fifty percent on Argentina 1978. The two-dozen finalists were divided into six groups of four for the first round robin phase (Groups 1 to 6), with the top two teams in each group progressing to the second phase which consisted of four three-team groups (Groups A to D), each of which would one of the four semi-finalists.
Absent since 1970, the semi-final stage returned with the traditional straight knockout format – with a penalty shootout deciding matters if things could not be settled after extra time. Although the dreaded Elfmeterschießen had been introduced by FIFA for the 1978 tournament, 1982 saw its first actual application when Germany defeated France from the spot in what was a dramatic match in Seville.
The increase in the number of participants and the change in the format saw the addition of a further fourteen games, expanding the number of matches from thirty-eight to fifty-two. It also led to an extension in the duration of the tournament, which now covered just under a month: it kicked off on 13th June in Barcelona’s Camp Nou, and ended on 11th July in Madrid’s famous Bernabeu. A total of 146 goals were scored in the seventeen different venues at an average of 2.81, a slight increase on 1978.
After an indifferent start where which saw them flirt with first phase elimination, Italy suddenly woke up in the second phase where they saw off holders Argentina and favourites Brazil – the latter in a game that will always be seen as a World Cup classic. After easily disposing of Poland in the semi-finals, the momentum that had been gathered by Enzo Bearzot’s side saw them through against a tired and much-maligned German team that at times looked as though they wanted to be somewhere else.
Qualifying Campaign and pre-tournament build-up
Having inherited the reins from Helmut Schön in 1978, Josef “Jupp” Derwall had had the best ever start by any Nationaltrainer – leading the side on an unbeaten run of twenty-three games that included victory at the UEFA European Championship in 1980. The side that had gone through both 1979 and 1980 without tasting defeat had applied good old-fashioned German discipline, but had also not been backwards in coming forwards to score goals. Something changed in 1981 however, with Derwall’s Mannschaft tasting defeat for the first time; the following year, results were far less consistent as the side adopted a more attritional, negative and arguably cynical approach that was to define the latter part of the Derwall era.
When Germany kicked off their qualifying campaign for the 1982 tournament in the Bulgarian capital Sofia on 3rd December 1980, it had been over eleven years since their last such fixture – a 3-2 defeat of Scotland in Hamburg on 22nd October 1969.
In spite of some poor form during 1981, Jupp Derwall’s side had swept all before them in their eight qualifying fixtures, scoring thirty-three goals – a rate of over four a game – and conceding only three. Not one of the eight games could be described as being even remotely close: every game was won by at least two clear goals.
As the tournament approached however things were not so consistent. Five friendly games in 1982 leading up to the finals produced something of a mixed bag of results: wins were secured against Portugal, fellow finalists Czechoslovakia and Norway, while a short tour of South America produced a draw against Argentina and defeat against Brazil. The team’s history-making unbeaten run and European Championship triumph now seemed light years away.
Things had been equally unstable off the field as well; Jupp Derwall’s tactics were clearly having a detrimental effect of some of the more talented players, and the return from exile of Paul Breitner provided additional piquancy to a pot that was slowly starting to bubble over. The first major casualty was the European Championship winning captain Bernard Dietz, who found himself out in the cold after expressing disappointment in the coach and his tactics; Dietz had first donned the captain’s armband in 1978 and had been a fixture in the side during much of the unbeaten run, but his international career would come to an end no sooner had Breitner returned to the fold. Given that Dietz had initially expressed reservations about Breitner’s reselection, his sudden disappearance from the international setup could hardly be described as a mere coincidence.
While the influence exerted by Breitner in the months leading up to the World Cup may never truly be quantified, his impact on the squad dynamic was obvious to even the most casual observer; only one man, Toni Schumacher, dared speak of it:
“The time leading up to the 1982 World Cup was for me a real nightmare. It all began with the return of Paul Breitner to the national side … A fighter with extraordinary charisma, his influence over the team was all the more marked because Jupp Derwall, the coach, had no real authority over us … Paul had such a way with words that he was capable of silencing any player, of making journalists look silly, and even openly having a go at Derwall.
On the field, he displayed extraordinary energy, amazing vitality. But unfortunately he wasn’t such a good example off the field. He smoked like a chimney, played poker and drank like a fish. And not only did he rule the roost during play and in training, he continued to lead the way the rest of the time as well. It was inevitable that the weakest and worst players in the team should follow his example. It was the easy way out.” 
While other squad members such as goalkeeper Eike Immel accused Schumacher of blowing things completely out of proportion , it was pretty evident to even the most casual media observer that not all was well in the German camp in the month leading up to the big kick-off in Spain. According to many reports the training camp at Schluchsee in the Schwarzwald had been little more than a farce – a view shared by Schumacher – and that what was passed off as team spirit could be found at the bottom of a whisky bottle. Indeed, having got wind of the shenanigans the German press quickly dubbed Schluchsee “Schlucksee” – literally, “sipping lake”. 
The stories about Schluchsee were just an aspect of the chaotic and somewhat bizarre buildup to the World Cup; in what was a most unusual and unprecedented move, Derwall also decided not to take the entire squad to twenty-players to Spain, but to leave three – HSV’s Holger Hieronymus, 1. FC Köln’s Stephan Engels and Fortuna Düsseldorf’s Thomas Allofs – back home in Germany on “stand-by”.
The reasons were in Derwall’s eyes straightforward: it would be far better for all concerned if three players who were not likely to be selected stayed at home, rather than spend their time grumbling on the training ground. What Derwall clearly didn’t understand was that by leaving these players in front of their television sets and sitting next to their telephones back in Germany, he was effectively cutting off any hope they might have had in playing an active role in the squad dynamic, even if they would not actually get to play.
Germany’s Tournament in brief
The reigning European Champions headed off to Spain on the back of an impressive qualifying round and as arguably the strongest team in Europe, but their form throughout the tournament ranged from the insipid to the ordinary – hardly surprising given the problems that had gradually been accumulating off the field. A shocking 2-1 defeat at the hands of North African minnows Algeria was followed by an impressively workmanlike demolition of Chile, only for the world to be left aghast at the shameful procession against Austria that became known as Der Schande von Gijón.
Coupled with the off-field fracas, this unsavoury fiasco established the dark tone for the remainder of the German campaign; German football found itself being dragged through the mud, with things made worse by the fact that those at the centre of the scandal did little or nothing to alleviate it. Even sticking to the business of winning football matches didn’t help the team’s cause: when Derwall’s side knocked hosts Spain out in the second group phase, there would be yet one more reason to hate a side that was fast becoming the tournament’s bunch of resident arch-villians.
While the rising level of antagonism shown towards the German team by their opponents was hardly surprising, the behaviour of Derwall’s squad both on and off pitch also helped alienate a large number of German supporters – many of whom had paid good money to follow the team in Spain. These supporters had hardly started to recover from the stomach-churning embarrassment of Gijón when they were served up with the next treat, the horrible foul committed by Harald Schumacher on France’s Patrick Battiston in what had been an otherwise exciting semi-final in Seville.
Although Schumacher himself would later apologise and appear contrite, no similar undertaking was ever offered by either Derwall or the team management for the indifference they had shown throughout the tournament, both towards their opponents as well as their own supporters. This only served to drive a bigger wedge between Derwall, his squad, and what had always been a loyal travelling fan base. The football itself had by now become little more than a sideshow; if any German supporter who had been around at the time were to be asked about the 1982 campaign, the two things they’d mention first would be the game in Gijón and Schumacher’s clumsy impersonation of Bruce Lee.
As for the final against Italy – the less said about that the better. It was pretty clear that the team wanted to get out of Spain as quickly as possible.
v Algeria First Phase Group 2, Gijón, 16.06.1982 View Report »
v Chile First Phase Group 2, Gijón, 20.06.1982 View Report »
v Austria, First Phase Group 2, Gijón, 25.06.1982 View Report »
v England, Second Phase Group B, Madrid, 29.06.1982 View Report »
v Spain, Second Phase Group B, Madrid, 02.07.1982 View Report »
v France, Semi-Final, Sevilla, 08.07.1982 View Report »
v Italy, World Cup Final, Madrid, 11.07.1982 View Report »