Video of the Day: Italy vs West Germany, June 1970

by | Mar 28, 2016

The relative irregularity with which international teams meet can throw up some curious statistical anomalies, and one of the most curious of all is that Germany – or West Germany – have never beaten Italy in a competitive match. The two teams meet tomorrow evening in Munich, and this will be the thirty-third meeting of the two sides, and of the previous thirty-two Italy have won fifteen, drawn ten and lost seven, with all of (West) Germany’s wins having come in friendlies, and with the last of these dating all the way back to a match played in Zurich in 1995. For all their might, four World Cup wins and three European Championship wins, Germany have always found Italy to be a thorn in their sides.

At the entrance to the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City hangs a plaque that marks the most titanic of all the previous battles between the two teams, a 1970 World Cup semi-final described as the “Match Of The Century.” Italy’s progress to the latter stages of the tournament had, as they always seem to, started slowly, with a one goal win against Sweden and two goalless draws against Uruguay and Israel being enough for them to top the group. In the quarter-finals, however, they came to life, defeating the host nation Mexico by four goals to one in Toluca. West Germany, on the other hand, had scored thirteen goals in their four matches in the tournament, including five against Bulgaria in one of the three group matches that they won and three against the holders England in the quarter-finals, when they came from two-nil down with three-quarters of the match played to snatch a win in extra-time. A crowd of over 102,000 people turned out at the Azteca for the semi-final, a match which, amongst many other notable matters, remains the only match in the entire history of the tournament to have featured five goals in extra-time. Commentary comes from Hugh Johns.

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