v Argentina, Estadio Centenario, Montevideo, 01.01.1981

1-2 (1-0)
Hrubesch 41. / Kaltz og 84., Díaz 88.

When Germany lined up on New Year’s Day 1981 in Montevideo’s Estadio Centenario against reigning World Champions Argentina, they had gone a record twenty-three games without defeat – an amazing run of success that covering than two calendar years. Having inherited the post of Nationaltrainer from Helmut Schön in 1978 following eight successful years as Schön’s assistant, Jupp Derwall had guided the Mannschaft to not only its best ever start under a new coach but also to the European Championship title in Italy in 1980.

When the Germans – kitted out in an all-white ensemble – took the lead late in the first half through an industry-standard Horst Hrubesch header from a well-placed Hansi Müller corner, it looked a good bet that the record would be stretched to twenty-four games; the Argentinians however had other ideas.

In six crazy minutes at the end of the second half the game – and Derwall’s unblemished record – was dramatically turned on its head. The Argentinians were more or less gifted their way back into the match, as Manny Kaltz made a complete hash in an attempt to clear a well-directed but not exactly firm Daniel Passarella header off the line. Five times out of ten the Hamburger SV fullback would have cleared the ball and four times out of ten he would have left it for Schumacher to collect, but on this occasion he swiped at the ball and only succeeded in deflecting it past the ‘keeper.

With two minutes on the clock the Albiceleste swept forward down the right flank, and Daniel Bertoni found Ramón Díaz with a perfectly timed pass. The River Plate man still had work to do, but dinked the ball delightfully over the advancing Schumacher to snatch a last-gasp win. Germany had gone all of 1979 and 1980 without losing a match; on the very first day of 1981, their record had come to an abrupt end.

Germany FR: Schumacher – Kaltz, Kh. Förster, Briegel, Dietz (c) – Ha. Müller, Bonhof, Magath, K. Allofs – Hrubesch, Rummenigge

Argentina: Fillol – Olguín, Passarella, Galván, Tarantini – Gallego, Ardiles, Maradona – Bertoni (68. Luque), Ramón Díaz, Kempes (46. Valencia)

Referee: Augusto Lamo Castilla (Spain)

Yellow Cards: – / –
Red Cards: – / –

Attendance: 55,000

v Brazil, Estadio Centenario, Montevideo, 07.01.1981

1-4 (0-0)
Allofs 54. / Júnior 56., Toninho Cerezo 61., Serginho 76., Zé Sérgio 82.

Having drawn 1-1 with Argentina, Brazil came into their game against Germany needing to better the Albiceleste’s result against the Nationalmannschaft to make their way into the final against hosts Uruguay; with the Argentines already on three points, the match was little more than an exercise in maintaining pride for Jupp Derwall’s side.

Germany’s record against Brazil had not been the greatest: when the teams lined up in Montevideo the Mannschaft had played A Seleção on seven occasions, winning only one of them. The match was perfectly set: while Germany were playing to go home on a positive note, Brazil were looking to win the game by two or more clear goals.

The first half ended goalless, though the Brazilians could very easily have walked into the tunnel with a hefty lead. Jupp Derwall’s side looked disjointed and lacking in pace, and on more than one occasion the defence looked shaky against the more nimble-footed men in yellow.

The second half started in much the same way as the first, but when the deadlock was broken it came completely against the run of play. After a Brazilian move had broken down, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge broke down the right and worked his way into a position to cross the ball into the Brazilian box. The cross was half-cleared by a Brazilian defender, before finding its way to Hansi Müller who played a horizontal ball back into the six-yard area. With Brazilian ‘keeper Leite all over the place, the ball was lashed into the back of the net by the unmarked Klaus Allofs. Somehow, Germany were in front.

The Mannschaft’s lead lasted no more than two minutes, as Brazil recovered from the shock of going behind to level the scores with their next attack. Having won a free-kick just outside the German penalty area, Júnior curled his kick up and over the wall and to the left of the leaping Schumacher.

Júnior’s equaliser was the cue for the floodgates to open, as Brazil more than made up for their first half profligacy to score three more goals in just over twenty-five minutes. Some great play down the right and a calm finish by the unmarked Toninho Cerezo gave the South Americans the lead with just over an hour gone, Socrates beat the advancing Schumacher and crossed for Serginho whose tap-in made it three some fifteen minutes later, and eight minutes from time Zé Sérgio wrapped up matters after some direct play through the middle of the field as a tired and dispirited German defence were ripped to shreds.

Having been unbeaten for over two years Germany had suffered back to back defeats, conceding six goals in two games – a shocking statistic when one considers that they only had conceded eighteen in their previous twenty-three.

Germany: Schumacher – Kaltz (35. Dremmler), Kh. Förster, Briegel, Dietz (c) – Ha. Müller, Bonhof, Magath, K. Allofs (73. Allgöwer) – Votava, Rummenigge

Brazil: Leite – Oscar, Edevaldo (78. Getúlio), Júnior, Luizinho – Batista, Tita (56. Serginho), Toninho Cerezo – Paulo Isidoro, Socrates, Zé Sérgio

Referee: Juan Silvagno (Chile)

Yellow Cards: – / –
Red Cards: – / –

Attendance: 50,000

First Phase Group B Table

GermanyGermany FR200225-30

Other result: Argentina 1-1 Brazil.

With the competition being scheduled right in the middle of the Bundesliga’s winter break one could have tried to excuse the poor German performance, but unlike some later mini-tournament fiascos – the 1985 Azteca tournament and the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup immediately come to mind – the squad that played in Uruguay had not exactly been a weak pick-and-mix selection. Of the eleven players that lined up against Brazil, no fewer than eight had started the European Championship final against Belgium in Rome just over six months earlier.

The final of the Copa de Oro would be won by hosts Uruguay, who in a repeat of the 1950 World Cup Final in Montevideo beat Brazil 2-1.

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