Tag: West Germany

Trying To Make Some Sense Of Germany vs England

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right. Being English during the World Cup finals really does feel like being “stuck in the middle with you”, to labour a pun. On the one hand, there are the newspapers (and not exclusively the tabloid ones), the television commentators, and those that belch in your face and shout, “INGERLAND” at you as if this will somehow help something, somewhere. On the other, there is the rest of the world, which often seems to go out of its way to remember just how much it hates the British, the English, people that wear plastic hats with St Georges crosses painted upon them or whatever. There seems to be no middle ground with England, no way of approximating anything like rationality. Against all of the evidence that was presented by their first two matches against the United States of America and Algeria, the hysteria returned after the recent narrow win against Slovenia. The truth of the matter is that, against Slovenia, they neither stank the tournament out or set the world alight. They played reasonably well, and were a little unlucky not to win by a greater margin than they did. Particularly impressive was Jermain Defoe, who has frequently looked so out of sorts in an England shirt, but looked, quite possibly for the first time in his career, like an...

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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...

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World Cup Tales: Reflections Upon England In Italy, 1990

The concept of England having a high level of expectation at the time of a World Cup finals is a comparatively recent one. As recently as 1990, most adults could remember their two successive failures to qualify for the whole event and, once there, they only seldom lit the tournament up. In 1982, a good performance in the opening match against France was followed by an almost linear deterioration in performance, which ended in their elimination in the second group round after two goalless draws against West Germany and Spain. Much was made of the fact that they were eliminated, due to the peculiar tournament structure, unbeaten, but they only scored one goal in their final three matches. Four years later, Diego Maradona’s various antics overshadowed a slow start that saw them lose to Portugal and draw with Morocco before Gary Lineker’s goals breathed some life into them. Going into the 1990 World Cup finals, there was little for England supporters to be particularly optimistic about. Their performance at the 1988 European Championships had been abject and, while their final qualification group table for the trip to Italy looked comfortable, the four point gap between them in second place and Poland in third place was somewhat deceptive. A goalless draw in Chorzow against Poland had guaranteed their place, but defeat would likely have eliminated them. In addition to this, the...

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World Cup Tales – Magyarország! The Greatest Team Never To Win A World Cup? Hungary, 1954

The story of football in the years immediately following the end of the Second World War often seemed to be following a pre-prepared script, but it was a script that, at the World Cup finals at least, the competing nations seemed unwilling to follow. In 1950, the tournament should have been a procession for the host nation, Brazil, but in the final minutes of the final match, Uruguay silenced the Maracana. And four years later, one of the greatest teams in the history of the game would come unstuck in similar circumstances. They were the “Golden Team” – the Hungarian team of Ferenc Puskas, Nándor Hidegkuti and József Bozsik. This Hungarian team was, tactically, one of the most important in the history of the game, and it only lost one match in four years. It just so happened, however, that the match that they did lose was the most important of all. The building blocks of the team were laid by Gusztáv Sebes, a Communist party member that had played for the Hungarian club MTK during the 1920s and 1930s. Sebes, along with fellow party members Béla Mandik and Gábor Kompóti-Kléber, took control of the national team in 1948. They realised immediately that the political capital of a successful national team was potentially massive and, using the Austrian Wunderteam and the Italian team that had seemed likely to dominate...

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World Cup Tales: When The Two Germanies Collided, 1974

The Cold War spread insiduously into every aspect of life between the end of the second world war and the end of the 1980s, and sport was no exception to this rule, whether it was the Soviets and Americans boycotting each others’ Olympic Games or Bobby Fischer facing off against Boris Spassky at chess in Rekjavik in 1972. Football was no exception to this rule, and perhaps the definitive meeting of captialism and communism on the football pitch came at the 1974 World Cup finals, when West Germany played East Germany in the group stage of the competition. Although the match was played at a time of relative detente in the overall scheme of the war itself, it was played at a time of high tension. The 1972 Olympic Games had been the scene of the Munich hostage crisis, and the recent actions of the Red Army Faction further intensified the nervousness surround the competition. Security was tight to the extent that guards with dogs patrolled the entrance of the West German team’s training camp, and the sense of unease spread into the camp itself, where a dispute over pay that threatened the appearance of several of the squad’s key players. Even the weather seemed to descend into pathetic fallacy, with pouring rain marring much of he early stages of the tournament. The dispute was resolved, but West Germany’s...

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