As the countdown to Euro 2016 draws near, Melosport continues its European Championships archive focusing on a period where the West Germans became a footballing powerhouse.
1972 Belgium European Championships
Despite defending champions Italy finishing runners-up in the 1970 World Cup, a new European force had been assembled by Helmut Schon. He took the best components from Bundesliga heavyweights Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayern Munich to form a very strong West German team.
Franz Beckenbauer dropped from midfield to sweeper while Der Bomber, Gerd Muller, led the line superbly. During the qualification campaign, Die Mannschaft topped their group which contained neighbours Poland and Austria plus Turkey. In the quarter-finals they recorded their first ever win at Wembley, beating England 3-1 away (3-1 on aggregate).
Belgium edged out Italy and the Soviets continued their rivalry with the Yugoslavs triumphing 3-0. Hungary edged Romania 5-4 across three legs to secure a spot in the finals. Once the four finalists were secured Belgium were awarded the honour of hosting the 1972 championships.
Gerd Muller netted braces in both the semi-final against Belgium (2-1 win) and the final as the Germans comfortably beat the Soviets 3-0 for their maiden European Championships crown.
- Teams: 32
- Winner: West Germany
- Runner-Up: USSR
- Goals: 10 goals in 4 games (2.5 goals per game)
- Golden Boot: Gerd Muller — 4 goals
1976 Yugoslavia European Championships
Having added the 1974 World Cup to their trophy cabinet, defending champions West Germany were a formidable force and beat Spain 3-1 over two legs to qualify for the finals.
Czechoslovakia on the other hand started their qualifying campaign with a 3-0 loss to England. Their fortunes though improved and after beating the Three Lions in Bratislava 2-1 they topped their group.
A Johan Cruyff-inspired Netherlands continued their excellent World Cup runners-up form to win their group and then hammer neighbours Belgium 7-1 on aggregate in the quarter-finals.
Yugoslavia, who also qualified, would host the tournament with games held in Zagreb, Croatia and Belgrade, Serbia. They were eliminated by the Germans in the semi-finals 4-2 (after extra-time) while the Czechs prevailed against Holland 3-1.
In the final, Bernd Holzenbein equalised for the holders in the last minute (2-2). No goals were scored in extra-time and therefore the final would be the first decided by penalty kicks.
The game was won by one of world football’s iconic moments. Antonin Panenka stepped up to take the Czechs final penalty after Uli Hoeness had hit his over the crossbar. Aware that a goal would win the European Championships, the midfielder calmly dummied and chipped the ball over the goalkeeper—calmness personified—and the Panenka penalty was born.
- Teams: 32
- Winner: Czechoslovakia
- Runner-Up: West Germany
- Goals: 19 goals in 4 games (4.75 goals per game)
- Golden Boot: Dieter Muller — 4 goals
1980 Italy European Championships
The format of the finals changed in 1980. Eight teams, instead of four, contested the finals with the winner of each group progressing onto the final.
Italy became the first nation to host the European Championships twice and of the eight finalists only Greece was a debutant.
West Germany had moved on since the days of Gerd Muller and now had Horst Hrubesch. He had played in Germany’s lower leagues six years earlier and was called up as a last minute replacement for Klaus Fischer. Hrubesch hadn’t scored during the tournament but German coach, Jupp Derwall, kept faith with his front man and was rewarded with two goals to win the final against the Belgians—the winner coming in the 88th minute.
Hrubesch was nicknamed the Header Monster: “I was given that nickname by a coach at [Rot-Weiss] Essen. I have always tried to play in as simple a way as possible and, of course, making the most of my abilities. I had a good leap and my timing was decent as well. I played in the Bundesliga for eight years and scored 136 goals; out of those, 81 were scored with my head.”
- Teams: 31
- Winner: West Germany
- Runner-Up: Belgium
- Goals: 27 goals in 14 games (1.93 goals per game)
- Golden Boot: Klaus Allofs — 3 goals