Video Of The Week: “The Match Of The Century” – Italy vs West Germany, 1970
The other week, we brought you the 1970 World Cup semi-final between Brazil and Uruguay in its entirety, and this week it’s time for the other semi-final from that tournament between Italy and West Germany. Italy had started the 1970 World Cup finals slowly. They won their group, but only managed one win, by a solitary goal against Sweden, and two goalless draws, against Uruguay and Israel, to make the quarter-finals of the competition. It was at this stage that they finally sparked into life, beating the host nation Mexico by four goals to one in Toluca after having gone a goal down early on in the match.
West Germany, meanwhile, had been the entertainers up to that point in the tournament. They had scored ten goals in three group match wins against Peru, Bulgaria and Morocco, and the three goals that they scored in coming from two down in the quarter-finals to beat England 3-2 in Leon made them, up to that point, the top scorers in the competition. Even the legendary Brazil side of the 1970 tournament didn’t overtake the German team until they scored their second goal in the final. They started this match as the narrow favourites to win a match that was expected by many to be a battle between the Italian defence, which had conceded just one goal in their four matches so far, and the free-scoring German attack.
There are several matches that have been awarded the unofficial title of “The Match Of The Century”, but there have been few matches that have quite as titanic as this one. Indeed, there is to this day a plaque commemorating it outside its venue, The Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, and it is a commonly held opinion that it had the draining affect that it had upon the players made Brazil’s job in the final considerably easier than it might otherwise have been. Rather than the full match, this video is extended highlights of the match (including extra-time), with commentary from the peerless Hugh Johns and summary from the former England captain, Billy Wright.