History of the World Cup Soccer Championships 1974 Germany v. Holland

About the history of the 1974 World Cup Championships for soccer or football ending with Holland v. Germany.


West Germany, many times a bridesmaid and once before the bride, hosted the 1974 competition. Seen by an estimated 600 million television viewers, the 1974 World Cup more than ever captured the attention of the globe. According to Time magazine, factories in Rio de Janeiro shut down; Italy's attempts to find a viable government were interrupted as 3 leaders left meetings to watch a game; and in Zaire, Africa, bus drivers left their buses when the Zaire Leopards had their match.

The elimination games were more placid than expected. The style known as total football, characterized by rushes by the entire team, was absent after having been popularized by West Germany and Holland. Also absent was representation by the U.S. and England, whose teams lost out in the elimination matches.

Eight nations fought it out for places in the semifinals: East Germany, Yugoslavia, Argentina, Sweden, Brazil, The Netherlands, West Germany, and Poland. The last 4 triumphed and went on.

The West Germany-Poland semifinal took place on a playing field reduced to a morass by rain. Accurate passing was almost impossible, and yet the action was smooth and featured a series of dazzling attacks. Wingers Gadocha and Lato pierced Germany's defense, keeping goalkeeper Maier frantically busy in the 1st half, making 3 saves. Maier's Polish counterpart, Jan Tomaszewski put in an equally brilliant performance, particularly in his 2nd-half deflection of Hoeness's penalty kick. Finally, a quarter of an hour from the end, German Gerd Muller tunneled his way in, faked out Tomaszewski, and assured Germany's place in the final.

Holland's semifinal battle with Brazil was unfortunately reminiscent in its roughness of 1954s "Battle of Berne." Brazil was minus superstar Pele, who retired from international competition after helping Brazil win the last Cup. The Brazilians substituted ferocity for finesse, and by the end of the half, 3 of their players had been warned for dangerous play. Shortly before the end, fullback Luis Pereira tackled Neeskens and was sent off. Neeskens made the 1st Dutch goal, the 2nd came from Johan Cruyff, considered by many to be the world's best soccer player. Cruyff shrugged off Brazil's brawling tactics, saying, "The technical way of beating us was gone. All they had left was the physical way." But even the physical way yielded no results, and the Flying Dutchmen were on their way to the final.

The Dutchmen went into the final with some of the wind out of their sails as a result of the brutal Brazilian bout. Nonetheless, the Dutch team took the early advantage with a successful penalty kick after Cruyff had been tripped in the penalty area. For the next half hour they dominated the field, but the impetus passed to the Germans after they tied the score, also on a penalty kick. Gerd Muller struck with another German goal minutes before half-time, making it 2-1. The 2nd half saw the Dutchmen make repeated assaults, following up high passes from the center and wings, but German goalkeeper Maier and his defenders successfully beat back the attacks. The whistle blew and the hosts had won their World Cup.

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