Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Group 7. Although DDR was much talked about during 1974 World Cup, the team was not seen as potential winner of the group – if there was to be any fight for the first place, it was to be between France and Belgium. And it was not to be between two strong teams, but between two weak ones – France was shaky, trying to build competitive squad and so far failing. Belgium was in decline, with stars getting older and declining. New great players were seemingly absent. However, Belgium always performed better than expected in major tournaments – at least the fighting spirit of the ‘Red Devils’ did not diminish. DDR and France did not disappoint the pundits predicting gloom for the two countries. At the end, Iceland benefited most – the outsiders ended with unbelievable 4 points.
1.BELGIUM 6 3 2 1 6- 3 8
2.East Germany 6 2 3 1 8- 7 7
3.France 6 1 3 2 7- 6 5
4.Iceland 6 1 2 3 3- 8 4
France, struggling to build a team – and failing so far. But a skeleton of a team to make strong impression was already shaping. So far nothing… the team losing 1-2 at Leipzig on October 12, 1975 to East Germany: top, left to right: Tresor, Adams, Janvion, Bracci, Batheney, Baratelli.
Bottom: Rocheteau, Gallice, Michel, Guillou, Emon.
In a few years almost the same guys were to be praised – did not look possible in 1975.
When in doubt, choose Belgium – aging or not, they delivered. Rarely scoring goals, rarely receiving goals, pinching a point here, a point there, and advancing. Always collected, no ups and downs. Not exactly entertaining by 1975, but – first in the group. This is the team capturing 2-1 win over France in Brussels on October 12, 1974: top, left to right: G. van Binst, E. van den Daele, J. Verheyen, H. Broos, M. Martens, C. Piot.
Bottom: W. van Moer, R. Lambert, Francois vander Elst, J. Teugels, P. van Himst.
Some players were seemingly forever representing Belgium – van Himst, Piot, van den Daele. By 1975 they were judged over the hill and hardly capable of big surprise. It was a team seen in need of massive change, but new blood was not available. Dark years were envisioned for the Devils… especially when van Moer was heavily injured.