Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The hosts were one of the biggest favorites for winning the championship – West Germany impressed everyone in 1972, when winning the European title. Club football soared. The names of the players spoke for themselves. The did not have to go through the uncertain trials and tribulations of qualifications. And they were to play at home. However, voices of concern were raised as well, especially in Germany: some pundits feared that the team would not be sufficiently prepared. BRD played its last official match in 1972, at the European final. High profile friendlies were arranged since then – with Argentina, Brazil, USSR, etc., but friendlies are friendlies… Of course, it is fruitless to debate is a qualification match against Albania better than a friendly against Brazil – either view would have some merits, but would be laughable as well. No matter what was said, the hosts were always listed among the favorites – the selection was excelent. If in 1972 some stars were injured – notably Overath – now everybody was in good health and form. The fracas over payments, when the Federation threatened to dismiss the whole team and call different players were settled. It was all business after that – and do Germans work when then mean business! The selection was fantastic: perhaps the best ever German selection and the most balanced team at the World Cup. To every first team player there was equally good back up. Unlike every other World Cup German team after 1974, there were hardly any really old players (Hotgess was the oldest at 31). Such selection was the envious dream of every coach, but not without problems… after all, having so much talent begs the question who is to play and who is to sit on the bench. There is psychological tension and egos clash. Netzer or Overath? There were difficult players like the outspoken excentric Breitner. There were old conflicts and rivelries simering – the coach Schon and Netzer disliked each other. The very fact that it was practically one generation of players meant that some were in eternal shadow and rarely – if at all – played: Maier always played; Kleff and Nigbur were benched; Franke was not even included in the team. Hardly the reserves were happy campers. And journalists were watching like howks, ever ready to question the selection if only slightly the chosen underperformed. West Germany had so much talent waiting… Horst Blankenburg of Ajax fame was considered one of the best centarl defenseman in the world at the time, but was never even contemplated by Schon, let alone invited to the national team. And he was not an isolated case, but, with talent to spare, West Germany had the whole squad of the 1972 European campaign; healthy stars, who missed 1972, and a bunch of young up and coming players – good potential for variety; tactical diversity; and even the risk of injuries during the tournament were not particularly strong concern. And it was a German team – no matter what tensions existed, when it was business – it was business. On the pitch – whether training or actual match – there was no sign of disagreements.
Mighty Germans, professionals to the end and in every detail. Troubles? What troubles?
Head coach: Helmut Schön
No. Pos. Player DoB/Age Caps Club
1 GK Sepp Maier 28 February 1944 (aged 30) 50 Bayern Munich
2 DF Berti Vogts 30 December 1946 (aged 27) 24 Borussia M'gladbach
3 DF Paul Breitner 5 September 1951 (aged 22) 19 Bayern Munich
4 DF Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck 3 April 1948 (aged 26) 23 Bayern Munich
5 DF Franz Beckenbauer 11 September 1945 (aged 28) 78 Bayern Munich
6 DF Horst-Dieter Höttges 10 September 1943 (aged 30) 65 Werder Bremen
7 MF Herbert Wimmer 9 November 1944 (aged 29) 23 Borussia M'gladbach
8 MF Bernhard Cullmann 1 November 1949 (aged 24) 12 FC Köln
9 FW Jürgen Grabowski 7 July 1944 (aged 29) 38 Eintracht Frankfurt
10 MF Günter Netzer 14 September 1944 (aged 29) 34 Real Madrid
11 FW Jupp Heynckes 9 May 1945 (aged 29) 28 Borussia M'gladbach
12 MF Wolfgang Overath 29 September 1943 (aged 30) 74 FC Köln
13 FW Gerd Müller 3 November 1945 (aged 28) 55 Bayern Munich
14 FW Uli Hoeneß 5 January 1952 (aged 22) 23 Bayern Munich
15 MF Heinz Flohe 28 January 1948 (aged 26) 14 FC Köln
16 MF Rainer Bonhof 29 March 1952 (aged 22) 4 Borussia M'gladbach
17 FW Bernd Hölzenbein 9 March 1946 (aged 28) 4 Eintracht Frankfurt
18 FW Dieter Herzog 15 July 1946 (aged 27) 2 Fortuna Düsseldorf
19 MF Jupp Kapellmann 19 December 1949 (aged 24) 3 Bayern Munich
20 DF Helmut Kremers 24 March 1949 (aged 25) 5 Schalke
21 GK Norbert Nigbur 8 May 1948 (aged 26) 2 Schalke
22 GK Wolfgang Kleff 16 November 1946 (aged 27) 6 Borussia M'gladbach

Dressed in the semi-official gear, which looks so weird today, West Germans getting ready to conquer the world. Some of the above were not in the conquering squad at the end…but all of the European champions were…from left to right: Heynckes, Hottgess, Vogts, Schwarzenbeck, Hoeness, Schon-coach, Muller, Cullmann, Kleff, Maier, Flohe, Bonhof, Franke, Erwin Kremers, Grabowski, Overath, Koppel, Beckenbauer, Breitner, Wimmer, Kapellmann. Bayern and Borussia suplied most of the team – who would aks for any different?