Germany’s craziest World Cup matches ever
People often say that the “Miracle of Bern” was the actual moment when the Federal Republic of Germany was born. At any rate, of Germany’s four World Cup titles, the first of them, won on 4 July 1954 in Switzerland, was the most important for the country. It forged an identity and, after the Second World War and all the suffering, it gave the Germans back a sense of joy. On a rainy summer Sunday, the now legendary team beat the favourites Hungary by a sensational 3:2.
“It’s over! It’s over! It’s over! Germany has won the World Cup!”
One man who did not play but whose name is just as inextricably bound up with the final – Helmut Zimmermann. He was at the microphone of what is probably the most famous radio coverage in German history, and which was later even used as the soundtrack to accompany the TV images of the match. Zimmermann managed to transform a game of football into a true drama:
Hungary led 2:0. And then suddenly it was 2:2. Six minutes to go. By which time Zimmermann’s voice was almost in fast forward: “Schäfer passes the ball to the centre, header, defended, Rahn should shoot from outside the box. Rahn shoots – Goaal! Goaal! Goaal! Goaal! Goal for Germany. Rahn’s left foot … Germany’s leading 3:2 with five minutes still on the clock. You can call me crazy! You can call me completely out of my mind!” Zimmermann’s fast-and-furious coverage of the final, concluding with those immortal words “It’s over! It’s over! It’s over! It’s over! The game’s over! Germany has won the World Cup!” will never be forgotten by anyone who’s heard them.
Equally unforgettable, the “Sodden battle of Frankfurt” – Germany against Poland on 3 July 1974 in Frankfurt’s “Waldstadion” during the World Cup in Germany. The game that marked Germany making the final.
Shortly before kick-off, the heavens had opened and a downpour had basically rendered the pitch unplayable, but the tight World Cup tournament schedule led to the decision being taken to play after all. The fire brigade was called in, and used pumps and rollers to clear as much water as possible. The match started only half an hour later.
Given the heavy ground underfoot, the Poles were unable to rely on their trademark short sharp passing, their key strength. The wet grass was forever slowing the ball to a snail’s pace. Gerd Müller scored in the 76th minute to take Germany ahead. German skipper Franz Beckenbauer later said: “Under normal circumstances I doubt we’d have had a chance.” Four days later, on 7 July 1974, Germany beat the Netherlands 2:1 in the final in Munich to win the World Cup for the second time.
Sometimes it is not the final that is the most exciting moment in a World Cup, but an occurrence en route to the final. And that was certainly the case in 1990. On 24 June, arch-rivals Germany and the Netherlands faced each other in the quarter-finals in Italy. Strikers Rudi Völler and Frank Rijkaard got in each other’s hair in the opponent’s penalty box.
In the 22nd minute Rijkaard fouls Völler. Referee Juan Carlos Loustau pulls out the yellow card. Believing the ref can’t see him, Rijkaard spits in Völler’s hair and then tugs his ear. Disgusted but in full control of himself, Völler turns away, protests to the ref, and promptly gets shown yellow, too. Seconds later things get out of hand: Red for Rijkaard and red for Völler. Loustau assumed Völler was partly guilty for what had happened.
On their way to the changing rooms, Rijkaard spits at Völler again. Only to have to run the media gauntlet as all the TV replays show that he had provoked Völler.
In the World Cup 1990 final against Argentina Rudi Völler hits the deck and is awarded a penalty – and Germany wins the World Cup for the third time.
A game? A dream? A drama? A national tragedy? A case for the football annals. Brazil against Germany, the semi-final of the World Cup in Brazil: on 8 July 2014 in Belo Horizonte. The only match the two had previously played against each other at a World Cup was the 2002 World Cup final, which Brazil had won 2:0. The South Americans were certain they were going to win again. How wrong one can be.
During the first half ZDF commentator Bela Réthy was already complete agape: “But it’s only just the 29th minute. Khedira, Özil, Khediraaaaa again, madness, pure madness, what is going on!? 5:0! Germany – Brazil, 5:0. It’s true. No, you’re not dreaming, today is 8 July 2014.”
The reporter, and with him over 30 million German TV viewers, could not believe their eyes. Neither did the many million Brazilians who had expected their team to go charging into the finals. It was to be a terrible night for the hosts, who didn’t score until the 90th minute, by which time their own keeper had been beaten no less than seven times.
The historical match finished 7:1 for Germany. It was the penultimate step on Germany’s way to winning its fourth World Cup, as it went on to beat Argentina in the final.
Metaphor for a disastrous defeat
Today, the result “7:1” (“sete – um” in Portuguese) is used in Brazil as a metaphor for a disastrous defeat and “Goal for Germany” (“gol da Alemanha”) is a popular exclamation for personal misfortune. A myth was born. With the fourth star for the shirts of Joachim Löw’s team as the icing on the cake.