Saturday, June 13, 2009

And the big drama at the end: England and West Germany. Two great teams, playing exciting football. Very personal to me as well – I was big fan of England. The first leg in London is the best match between national teams I ever saw. It was breathtaking football, attacking, fast, tough, yet fair. No simulations, no tactically wasted time. Gentlemen’s game in the rain. Hoeness scored first in the 26th minute, and I regained hope in 77th minute, when Francis Lee equalized. But it was not to be… 85th minute… a penalty kick for the Germans. I was unable to watch – and I missed it therefore. Netzer scored. Today I regret my fear and superstition… for I missed a great duel between Banks and Netzer. And Muller in 89th minute made it 3-1 for West Germany. I was both happy and unhappy – my guys lost, but what a match.
Not a single dull moment.
This match more than less established total football on the national teams level – there was visible difference between England and West Germany: the Brits were not free, they did not cover fearlessly the whole field regardless of nominal player’s post. Their defense was in a line, which may be the thing to do today, but clearly was dangerous liability in the 1970s – too easy to penetrate. Bobby Moore was somewhat static when contrasted to Beckenbauer. The Germans changed positions and it was difficult to say who was defender and who – a striker. They improvised and their moves were unpredictable. England was worthy and brave opponent, yet, it was clear to whom the future belong.
England did step down without a fight, but after the first match there was no hope – the second leg in West Berlin ended 0-0. If football was ‘fair’ game, England and West Germany should have played the final. Alas, it was only quarterfinal…
Gordon Banks saves this one, but Gerd Muller had the last word – in the last minute too.
Captains Moore and Beckenbauer are all smiles before the beginning of the second leg in West Berlin. They respected each other, but friends or no friends, the German smile lasted longer.