Poland 1 Sweden 0 - Second Round

The opening game between the less fancied sides, was a cagey affair with the Swedes missing an excellent chance after just over quarter of an hour had passed. As in the qualifiers against England Poland’s goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski’s form was inspired, and what he missed, invariably found the woodwork. Then with three minutes to go to half time Lato of Poland picked up the ball just outside the penalty area, he quickly passed the ball diagonally up to his left to Gadocha who had sprinted forward, Gadocha’s first touch was a flighted ball into the area, which was met by a late charge from Szarmach near the far side of the goal, Szarmach headed the ball down into the path of the onrushing Lato, who smashed the ball home. Come what may, for the remainder of the match Sweden proved unable to equalise, as Tomaszewski made save after save. Poland had a degree of luck when, twenty-five minutes into the second half, a penalty appeal from Sweden was turned down. But the day was Poland’s and the recorded result was one-nil to Poland.

West Germany 4 Sweden 2 – second round

Germany took on Sweden themselves in the second game of the round for both sides. There had been rumours of differences between the West German manager Helmut Schön and team captain Franz Beckenbauer. One change the West Germans did make was to restore Rainer Bonhof to the side, which added defensive solidity to the team and helped the hosts retain possession better overall. However, there are two teams in a match and it was the Scandinavians, smarting from their defeat at the hands of Poland, who came off the starting blocks with an attempt to overwhelm their opponents. For ten minutes the Germans hardly touched the ball and were pressed back; Sandberg, the fastest man in the competition, made life a living hell for the German defenders; which helped create the opening goal for his colleague Edström at the end of this period. West Germany started to fight back, but hardly made much progress. The half ended with Scandinavia’s biggest country holding on to an amply merited lead. Whatever Schön said to his players during the half time interval had the desired effect as a different more grimly determined West Germany took to the field at the start of the second half. The ground soon started to roar as after five minutes play West Germany were level, courtesy of a goal from Overath rapidly followed by a second from Bonhof. Sweden, rather undeservedly, were now two-one down. Nonetheless, they were able to shake off whatever disappointment they felt and started to press again. With two minutes Roland Sandberg scored, which was nothing less than he deserved given his sterling contribution throughout the game and the nightmare threat, to West Germany, that his speedy legs presented for pretty well the entire game. The score stood at two-two, with anything, apparently possible; for just over ten minutes Schön let the battle continue, but he had discerned a weakness in Sweden, the Swedes had been performing like Trojans; however, all this hard work and perseverance had come at a price, they were tired. This was the psychological moment for the decisive strike, and Schön was not found lacking; with twenty-five minutes left, he brought on Jürgen Grabowski, who would play on the right wing. For more than ten minutes Grabowski’s running stretched the Swedes until, eventually, they cracked, Grabowski himself scoring in the seventy-ninth minute. This was the end, Sweden not being able to find a response. A view that found expression in a last minute penalty, awarded for a foul on Müller. West Germany had triumphed because of superior stamina and tactical awareness on the part of their manager. Yet it must be recorded that the margin of victory was a flattering one.

Final result
Munich 7 June 1974

West Germany: Maier, Vogts, Schwarzenbeck, Beckenbauer, Breitner,
Hoeness, Grabowski, Müller, Overath, Hölzenbein.

The Netherlands: JongBloed, Suurbier, Rijsbergen (69 De Jong), Haan,
Krol, Jansen, Van Hanegem, Neeskens, Rep, Cruyff,
Resenbrink (46 Van Der Kerkhof).

Referee: Jack Taylor (England).

Half time scores in brackets.

West Germany 2 (2) The Netherlands 1 (1)
Attendance: 77,833

Breitner (25), Müller (43);
Neeskens (2).

The two teams that took the field on 7 July 1974 in front of a crowd of over seventy thousand were perhaps the best ambassadors for total football in the world at that time. Bonhof retained his position in the West German team, a decision of Schön’s that was to be fully vindicated. Initially it looked as if the home crowd were going to witness the humiliation of their favourites, for the Dutch toyed with their opponents in the opening minute, not allowing them a touch. This opening minute was brought to an end by Johan Cruyff who swept forward from the halfway line straight for the West German goal; he looked destined to score which was why he was brought down by Uli Hoeness in the penalty area. Neeskens easily converted the penalty that was awarded by the referee, Jack Taylor of England. It appeared that the West German plan of assigning Bertie Vogts to mark Cruyff out of the game had failed catastrophically. Yet the Dutch forgot that the only way to deal with a wounded animal is to put it down; instead of pressing forward and attacking; they used their great skills in passing the ball to retain possession. This lack of threat to the West German goal enabled Vogts to recover his poise and start shadowing Cruyff much more effectively, the Dutch dominance, which had been pronounced in the opening twenty minutes, began to lesson. Arrogance and overconfidence would cost the Dutch dear, for a clumsy challenge by Gerd Müller sent Rijsbergen crashing to the ground; which caused the Dutch to instantly protest, Van Hanagem being sufficiently vociferous that it was he who found his name being booked. While the Dutch quarrelled, the Germans played, Hölzenbein stormed down the left wing with the ball and started to home in on the Dutch goal. He was brought down by Jansen. Thus the second penalty of the match was awarded, and Paul Breitner made no mistake. The Dutch had needlessly thrown away the lead. Disaster then followed for the Netherlanders, Neeskens who so often had tackled decisively to turn the tide in the past, mistimed a tackle on Hölzenbein with two minutes to go to half-time. Bonhof quickly took the free kick, his pass to Müller was a fraction out, but this did not stop this classic poacher from controlling the ball and then sending it past Jongbloed, who had seen the danger too late. The Dutch were behind.

It is often fatal to be a goal down to a team who are, by common consent, weaker than their opponents. And the 1974 World Cup final remained true to this tradition. Sepp Maier was stupendous in goal for West Germany as the Dutch launched wave after wave of attacks in the second half. Luck deserted the Dutch too, as every time the goal appeared to be at their mercy, and nothing looked easier than scoring, they contrived to miss, this happened to Rep twice. All the while Vogts shadowed Cruyff and prevented the danger man from scoring. Thus just like their forbears in 1954, the West Germans on the World Cup at the expense of a more technically proficient and potent footballing side.

© 2006 World Cup Years Ltd.