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The 1974 was Holland's tournament to lose and they did, faulting badly at the final hurdle. With Johan Cruyff and Total Football at the peak of their powers, they were the red hot favorites and their World Cup odds reflected this. Franz Beckenbauer led Die Mannschaft to a title which had just gone begging in 1966 and 1970.16 teams qualified and the major omissions were France, England and Spain. In the first round, the only major upset was Poland advancing at the expense of 1970 finalist, Italy.

In the second round, the Dutch took care of both Brazil and Argentina while West Germany were too strong for the likes of Poland, Sweden and Yugoslavia.

In the final the Dutch took the lead before the Germans had even touched the ball. Unfortunately the 1-0 lead couldn't hold and they went down 2-1. For the fourth time, the hosts were victorious. Pole Grzegorz Lato was the leading scorer with seven goals.

© 2006 World Cup Years Ltd.