Monday, April 20, 2009

If England was delightfully, predictably unpredictable, with different champion every season, West Germany was establishing traditions: Borussia Moenchengladbach won second title in succession. I am speaking for the Bundesliga, not for the entire German football history. If new order was present anywhere, it was in West Germany: when Bundesliga was formed neither Bayern (Munich), nor Borussia (Moenchengladbach) were invited. Both clubs were not considered strong and popular enough – the ‘big’ clubs were others. Both Bayern and Borussia won promotions and not only stayed, but became candidates for the title despite their original exclusion. From 1969 it was these two clubs dominating the Bundesliga and eventually concurring Europe. From today’s perspective this is even a bit surprising – Bayern is one the top European club, unlike Borussia. But it was different story in the 1970s: in 1971 Borussia won second title, becoming the most titled Bundesliga club so far – Bayern was champion once, West Germany having different champion every year. Borussia not only had most titles, but won them in succession – another record. And they played exciting football, led by great Gunther Netzer. Were they really better than the Bavarians? May be not, but both clubs had big stars rivaling each other and more or less the combination of the stars came to be the great West German national team of the first half of the 1970s. If the world learned about Netzer a little late, it was because he did not play much for the national team – Netzer was rebellious, he clashed with the national coach Helmut Schon over tactics, and as a result he did not want to play for the national team and Schon did not want Netzer to be in the national team. This changed eventually, but not because of reconciliation – Wolfgang Overatt was heavily injured, missed a season, and Netzer was invited to replace him – and to become perhaps the brightest player of the German team winning the European Championship in 1972. But in 1971 Netzer led Borussia to their second title. He was not alone, of course:
Unusual kit, but champions again – Borussia 1971
Back, left to right: Wittmann, Ludwig Muller, Laumen, Kopell, Sieloff, Le Fevre (Denmark), Bonhof, Heinckes, Bleidick, Netzer
Front: Wimmer, Dietrich, Schrage, Kleff, Wloka, Vogts. Future European and World champions in the squad, only to get better in the next years.