The DFB's major titles: Football World Cup 1974

Home comforts for Beckenbauer, Müller and Co

Magazine, 07.11.2022

Germany wins its second World Cup. Captain Franz Beckenbauer and his team lift the new World Cup trophy after a thrilling final against the Netherlands at Munich’s Olympic Stadium.

World Cup 1974 

Unlike twenty years earlier, the German team is one of the favourites for the 1974 World Cup. Many of the players that won the 1972 European Championships are also in the 1974 squad. Names such as Franz Beckenbauer, Sepp Maier, Berti Vogts, Paul Breitner and Wolfgang Overath set the standard in world football at that time. Expectations were high as Germany took to the field for its opening group game against Chile on 14 June at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium, winning 1-0. The team coached by trainer Helmut Schön then comfortably won its second game 3-0 against Australia. But the mood in Germany is not one of total optimism. A lot of football fans find the performances workmanlike and complacent.

Humiliating defeat and rain almost stops play

The long-awaited final group game sees an inner-German duel against East Germany, although both teams have already qualified for the next round. The explosive nature of the match stems from emotional and political aspects, which almost boil over in the run-up to the game. In short, prestige is at stake, and most people believe that there can only be one possible winner: West Germany, who are undoubtedly the favourites going into the match. But favourites do not always win: a listless performance by West Germany and the fighting spirit of the GDR help cause a major upset. Jürgen Sparwasser becomes the hero of East Germany as his goal puts him in the football history books. The game finishes 1-0 to the underdogs and is an embarrassing defeat for the West Germans, who are so used to winning.

In the second group stage, which in 1974 replaces the usual format of quarter and semi-finals, fans see a completely transformed West German side in action. They show a high level of morale and fighting spirit, realising they have a lot to make up for. A 2-0 win over Yugoslavia and a 4-2 against Sweden are testament to this approach. The final group game is against Poland – a very talented and smart opponent. All eyes are fixed on the Waldstadion in Frankfurt, as the winners will advance to the final. But instead of a classic with dramatic action and skill, the fans have to endure a game played in a mudbath on a waterlogged pitch. A storm had transformed the pitch into an almost unplayable bog, on which the German team enjoyed a little bit more luck than their opponents. Striker Gerd Müller scores the only goal of the game.

Outstanding but overconfident Netherlands fall at the final hurdle

The final pits Germany against the excellent Netherlands, whose fast and skilful brand of “total football” has made them the most likely World Cup winners. With just a minute gone, the “Oranje” are awarded a penalty before a German player has even touched the ball. Johan Cruyff puts away the spot kick. But the apparent overconfidence of the Dutch team, who appear to be more concerned with showing up the Germans than trying to score a second goal, is soon punished midway through the first half.

When Bernd Hölzenbein goes down in the opposition’s penalty area in the 26th minute, the referee points to the spot straight away. Young defender Paul Breitner confidently converts the penalty to equalise. Whether the penalty was justified or the result of a clever dive is still debated today. Germany’s winner was scored by Gerd “Bomber” Müller with a typical goal after a quick turn in the penalty area. Bitter for the Netherlands. Johan Cruyff, the tournament’s outstanding player, is deeply disappointed. This match also marks the beginning of the great football rivalry between the two neighbouring countries.

(Text: Martin Sulkowsky)

A strong team can achieve anything

The German national football team has won the World Cup four times – in 1954, 1974, 1990 and 2014. ERGO is an official partner of the national team and is commemorating these great triumphs in a series of articles.

Part 1 - Football World Cup 1954: “The miracle of Berne” – Triumph for all eternity

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