v Spain, 1984 European Championship First Phase Group B
First Phase Group B v Spain, Parc des Princes, Paris, 20.06.1984
– / Carrasco pen 45., Maceda 90.
Jupp Derwall’s German side went into their last group match against Spain at the Parc des Princes sitting fairly comfortable at the top of the table; with three points from their two matches, they just needed a draw to secure their place in the semi-finals. Their fate was in their own hands, and the equation was simple: a win would put them at the top of the group and a semi-final against surprise package Denmark, while a draw would have seen them finish in either first or second place dependent on the result of the other fixture between Portugal and Romania. Even a defeat would have seen them squeeze through on goal difference, but this desperate scenario was wholly dependent on the other fixture ending up as a goalless draw.
While the Mannschaft could have been excused for adopting a wholly defensive strategy as they had done back in 1980 against Greece and in their opening game agaist the Portuguese, Derwall stuck with what was essentially the same 4-3-3 line-up that had started against Romania in their previous match. It was a positive move from the coach, who probably knew that sitting back with all eleven men behind the ball and asking a skillful team like Spain to attack would have been asking for trouble.
On what was a warm and slightly humid summer evening in Paris in front of a crowd of just under forty-eight thousand Czech referee Vojtěch Christov got things underway, with Germany in their traditional home Trikot and the Spaniards in their equally recognisable red shirts, blue shorts and black socks. The French spectators in the stands had still not tired of whistling Toni Schumacher, whose first touch attracted what sounded almost like pre-recorded hoots of derision.
Derwall’s side started off brightly, and could very well have taken the lead with less three minutes on the clock when an inswinging Klaus Allofs corner from the right found Hans-Peter Briegel whose header bounced off the crossbar. The three-man German attack were determined to cause chaos and exploit Spain’s defensive frailties: Allofs sent in a dangerous cross that was put behind by Ricardo Gallego, and Rudi Völler was unlucky to see the ball blocked by ‘keeper Luis Arconada as he attempted to cut it back towards the unmarked Allofs after a fine burst down the right. At the fifteen-minute mark the Mannschaft were clearly on top.
As is usually the case in this sort of game, Germany could not turn their opportunities into goals – and with just over twenty minutes gone this was compounded when another Allofs cross, this time from the left, was once again crashed against the bar by Briegel with Arconada rooted to the spot. Less than ten minutes later the frame of the goal would come to the Spaniards’ rescue yet again when Andreas Brehme’s left-footed effort from just outside the box skidded low to Arconada’s left and rebounded off the upright.
With three efforts coming off the woodwork in less than thirty minutes, some might have begun to think that it was going to be one of those nights for Derwall’s men. When skipper Karl-Heinz Rummenigge had to be treated by the touchline after falling awkwardly in the Spanish box, Derwall must have felt like pulling his silver hair out.
With Rummenigge still off the field Spain finally got their first shot on target which was easily collected by Schumacher, but within moments the play had swung back to the other end of the field as Allofs blazed a shot just over the bar from twenty yards out.
As the half-time whistle approached one could never have believed that it was the Spaniards that had to win the game, such had been the dominance shown by a purposeful German side that were unlucky not to be in front. However games like this have a habit of turning up nasty surprises, and one such nasty surprise arrived just a minute before the break. In what was a rare Spanish move forward, Gallego played a lovely backheeled pass into the path of twenty-sixth minute substitute Salva, who went down in the box from Uli Stielike’s challenge.
The tackle clearly looked to have taken place outside the box, but on a night that seemed to be going desperately wrong for Jupp Derwall’s side the Czech referee had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot. The decision simply put the icing on the cake for a German side that must have felt that the entire world – and not just the Schumacher-haters in the crowd – were against them.
Francisco Carrasco stepped up to take the kick, and as a couple of lit flares found their way onto the pitch the winger sent a weak shot to Schumacher’s left that was easily collected by the ‘keeper. Having been gifted an opportunity they clearly didn’t deserve, Miguel Muñoz’s side instead found themselves going into the break with the score still at 0-0. At this point Germany had a firm foot in the semi-finals, while with the score in Nantes also being goalless Spain were also in the frame for a spot in the last four.
The second half got off to a slow start, with the only fireworks in the first five minutes coming from a flare flung into the German box from the crowd that flew past Schumacher before falling just short of the feet of Stielike. The first chance of the half was fashioned by the Germans, with Allofs forcing Arconada into a fine save after some excellent build-up play by Rummenigge and Völler.
Spain showed plenty of invention but had fashioned few chances, and their first opportunity of the second half only came about as a result of some carelessly overelaborate play by Norbert Meier who was robbed by Carrasco who then jinked into the box before having his shot smothered by Schumacher. Meier had suddenly been thrust right into the action, and just moments after his mistake at one end he played a lovely through ball to Allofs who once again found Arconada in the way as he struck a firm low shot on target. Meier was then booked for a clumsy challenge on Víctor, and ended what had been an interesting five-minute spell by being replaced by Pierre Littbarski just short of the hour mark.
Littbarski made his presence felt straight away with first a powerful thrust down the centre that resulted in a half-chance for Völler and then a sharp left-wing cross into the Spanish box that just evaded the leaping Briegel, but the unlike in the first half the Spaniards were not beginning to see a lot more of the ball and with it the opportunity to threaten Schumacher in the German goal. With sixty-seven minutes on the clock a Carrasco corner was brilliantly met at the near post by the unmarked Antonio Maceda, whose firm downward header was scrambled off the line by Stielike with Schumacher completely beaten.
Apart from the first-half penalty Maceda’s header had been Spain’s best chance to break the deadlock, a signalled a passage of play where the Germans found themselves on the back foot. The defence was starting to look ragged, and having been a virtual spectator for much of the first hour Schumacher was suddenly in the thick of the action as the Spaniards started to send the ball into the German box with far more purpose.
If the German defence was starting to look weary, when the ball did make its way to the other end of the pitch chances were still being created. Littbarski was unlucky to lose control of the ball at the crucial moment as he tried to jink his way into the Spanish penalty area, and after some great play down the left wing by Allofs the twinkle-toed Rummenigge turned past his marker Camacho brilliantly before lashing a thunderous right-footed effort from all of eight yards. Arconada was however more than equal to it, and with what was perhaps his best save of the evening the he somehow managed to keep it out. The Spanish ‘keeper was then on hand to deny Lothar Matthäus who fired in another shot from the edge of the box.
With ten minutes remaining in both matches the group situation was exactly the same as it had been before kick-off, but unbeknownst to both sides there had been a development in Nantes. With nine minutes to go Nené had scored for the Portuguese, putting them joint top of the group table alongside the Germans with exactly the same record. Three played, one win, two draws, four points, and a goal difference two against one. While Portugal and Romania had been locked at 0-0 both Spain and Germany had a foot in the finals, but the Portuguese goal suddenly had the Spaniards down in third place – and out of the tournament.
With just under five minutes remaining Allofs probably had what was the best of his many chances to score. Having been found in acres of space just outside the Spanish penalty area by Völler, the 1. FC Köln striker recovered from an awful first touch to cut back inside the defender towards the edge of the six-yard box. With the Spanish defenders either unable or unwilling to close him down Allofs probably had far more time than he thought, and with the goal at his mercy hit a tired looking shot into the side netting. To make matters even worse, Matthäus had been standing completely unmarked in the middle of penalty area.
With the Spanish defence looking increasingly dead on their feet Jupp Derwall’s side continued to keep Arconada busy, as first substitute Wolfgang Rolff and then Littbarski warmed the gloves of the Spanish ‘keeper. Sometimes goalkeepers have extra special games, and Arconada probably knew that nothing was ever going to get past him that evening. Still, at 0-0 with less than a minute to go Germany were in the last four irrespective of what was going on in Nantes.
Then came the final sting in the tail. With referee Christov starting to look at his watch, Spain won a free-kick midway inside the German half when substitute Francisco López was bundled over by Matthäus. López took the kick quickly, sending the ball out towards Juan Antonio Señor out on the right who collected, checked, and swung a high right-footed cross back into the German penalty area. In what must have felt like a surreal blur, the unmarked Maceda stole a march on the defence and directed a firm header towards goal. Schumacher managed to get a hand on the ball, but couldn’t do much else.
The ball was in the back of the net, Spain were suddenly catapulted straight to the top of the group table and – in what was the merest blink of an eye – the Mannschaft were down and out. Everyone in red and blue went crazy, and Schumacher booted the ball up the field in disgust: just like that, it was all over. In the days before mobile devices and text messaging the Germans would not have been absolutely certain of their fate, but it wouldn’t be long until the news of Portugal’s one-goal win over Romania had made its way to the bench.
In the space of a few seconds a team that must have been mentally preparing for a semi-final suddenly found themselves in third place in the group – and on their way home. It was a crushing blow, not least for the unfortunate Jupp Derwall who would become the first Nationaltrainer to be relieved of his position. What was perhaps the greatest – and largely unpublicised – irony was that goalscorer Maceda plied his trade at club level for Sporting Gijón – a team from the city that had symbolised the lowest point of Derwall’s seven-year career as Nationaltrainer.
Almost two years after Derwall’s team had shamed themselves in that Spanish city, a man who played for its local side would be the one to deliver what was the cruellest of last-gasp blows.
Germany: Schumacher – B. Förster, Stielike, Kh. Förster, Briegel – Matthäus, N. Meier (60. Littbarski), Brehme (74. Rolff) – Kh. Rummenigge (c), Völler, K. Allofs
Spain: Arconada – Victor, Maceda, Goikoetxea (26. Salva), Camacho – Gordillo, Gallego, Señor, Julio Alberto (76. Francisco) – Santillana, Carrasco
Referee: Vojtěch Christov (Czechoslovakia)
Assistants: not known
Yellow Cards: Meier / Goikoetxea
Red Cards: – / –
Other results: Romania 1-1 Spain; Portugal 1-1 Spain; Portugal 1-0 Romania.