Wednesday, June 22, 2016

22 June 1974 - One Won The Battle, The Other Won The War

On 22 June 1974, East and West Germany met in the first round of the World Cup, with the top spot of their group at stake. East Germany won, 1-0, but it proved to be a hollow victory.

The teams had met three times previously, all of which came in Olympic competition. They played a two-legged tie during qualification for the 1964 Olympics, with each side winning at home (East Germany advanced on goal differential). In the 1972 Olympics, they met in the second round, with East Germany again advancing. Those three matches involved amateurs, however, making the World Cup meeting the first one with full professionals.

Playing before a crowd of 60,350 at the Volksparkstadion in Hamburg, both teams had already qualified for the second-round group stage. West Germany were one point ahead of East Germany and needed only a draw to take the group's top spot.

The match's early stages contained little drama, as most of the action occurred in the midfield, with hardly any action in front of either goal. Both sides had chances, though, with West Germany's Gerd Müller hitting the crossbar and East Germany's Hans-Jürgen Kreische firing over it. Then, in the 77th minute, East Germany's second-half substitute midfielder Erich Hamann raced down the right side and floated a cross into the West German box, where his fellow midfielder Jürgen Sparwasser (pictured) was there to meet it. Sparwasser controlled the ball, then slotted it into the net for the 1-0 win.

East Germany advanced as group winners into the second round group stage, where they were joined by Brazil, the Netherlands, and Argentina. They managed only a single point--drawing with Argentina--and were eliminated. The West Germans, meanwhile, won their second round group over Poland, Sweden, and Yugoslavia, then proceeded to win the Final over the Netherlands.

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