1973/74 European Cup – The Rise of Bayern
Reigning European Champions West Germany had a host of stars who played for Bayern, but till now could not replicate their form for Die Mannschaft for their club side in Europe. Having been comprehensively beaten by Ajax during the previous season, the likes of Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Muller knew a good club season would be likely to have a positive impact on the summer as West Germany were hosting the 1974 FIFA World Cup.
Given the pedigree of the national team, it was a surprise that there had never been a German winner of the European Cup. In comparison to their present day lofty standards Bayern Munich were not a historical German heavyweight by the early 1970s as the club won a solitary German title in the first 65 years of the club’s history. However the Bavarians had been on an upward trajectory since the mid-1960s as a promising group of young players had been discovered and since 1969 Bayern had won three Bundesliga titles and finished as runners-up during the other two seasons.
After their third European Champions Cup Ajax aligned their sights on matching Real’s record haul of five consecutive wins. This arduous quest was made all the more difficult when their talisman Johan Cruyff announced that he was leaving Amsterdam in the summer for Barcelona to join his old coach Rinus Michels. Ajax felt Cruyff’s departure immediately as they were eliminated in their first match of the tournament against CSKA Sofia. Liverpool were eliminated by Red Star Belgrade and Benfica lost to Hungarians Ujpest. At the same stage of the tournament, Bayern faced East Germans Dynamo Dresden, who had already knocked out the much-fancied Juventus. The all-German tie resulted in an extremely tight 7-6 aggregate victory.
Ujpest was Bayern’s semi-final opponent and a 3-0 home victory ensured Bayern would contest the European Cup final against Atletico Madrid who had overcome Celtic 2-0. The final was held at Heysel Stadium in Brussels and with the match goalless at full-time, extra-time was required. In the second period Luis Aragones curled a free-kick around the German wall and past the goalkeeper to give Atletico the lead and what looked like victory but with the last kick of the game defender Schwarzenbeck fired in a goal from 35 yards to secure a replay.
The replay took place at the same venue two days later and was far more one-sided. The Germans had more energy than the Spaniards and with Franz “Der Kaiser” Beckenbauer controlling the pace of the game Uli Hoenes and the prolific Gerd Muller scored two apiece as Bayern ran out 4-0 winners.
Final (Brussels): Bayern Munich 4-0 Atletico Madrid (1-1 two days earlier)
1974/75 European Cup – Sport’s Ugly Side
West Germany had won everything—the World Cup had just been lifted by Beckenbauer and in addition to winning the European Championships two years earlier, A West Germany club side were the European Cup holders.
Barcelona had returned to the European Cup for the first time in 13 years and the Catalans possessed Dutch creativity and flair in Cruyff and Neeskens. Their defence was just as impressive as Barca had not conceded a goal in the entire competition going into their semi-final against Leeds United. Both sides were desperate to lose their bridesmaids status’ and win the European Cup for the first time. An entertaining end-to-end first-leg played at a packed Elland Road resulted in a 2-1 win for Leeds. A draw at the Camp Nou was sufficient for Leeds to reach the final.
Meanwhile Bayern had a relatively easy run to the final. They had faced and beaten another East German foe, this time Magdeburg, then Soviet’s Ararat Yerevan before defeating French side Saint-Etienne in the semi-final. Leeds would certainly be the Bavarians’ toughest test in 1974/75.
The final itself was dominated by hooligans rather than football. With Leeds in the ascendancy, the French referee waved away two penalty claims plus incorrectly ruled out a Peter Lorimer goal for offside. Bayern then scored two late goals which caused fans from Yorkshire to start rioting. Bayern had retained their trophy but the trouble had marred the final. Although there had been various football hooligan incidents earlier in the 1970s, the events in Paris highlighted the growing problem. UEFA banned Leeds from European football for four years.
Final (Paris): Bayern Munich 2-0 Leeds United
1975/76 European Cup – Der Kaiser Wins his Second Ballon d’Or
After two successive titles, the quest to at least match Ajax’s achievements of three consecutive European Cups was a distinct possibility.
The Germans faced Benfica in the quarter-finals but the Portuguese side were a shadow of their former selves and a 5-1 thrashing in Germany after a goalless draw in Lisbon saw the Germans safely through. Real Madrid were up next, who had already eliminated one German side in Borussia Monchengladbach. An estimated global television audience of 200 million tuned in to watch the eagerly anticipated heavyweight tie. Gerd Muller proved to be a thorn for Real as he scored once in Spain as the sides drew 1-1 before he scored both in the second-leg in a 2-0 victory for Bayern to reach their third final.
The final was a repeat of the preceding year’s semi-final as Bayern took on Saint-Etienne. Just as the Bavarians had enjoyed good fortune in their previous finals—in Brussels with the last kick of the game to salvage a draw and; in Paris from the referee, the recurring theme continued in Scotland. Saint-Etienne struck the crossbar twice in the first half leaving Franz Roth scored the solitary goal as the Germans won their third consecutive title. Beckenbauer lifted the European Cup again and in addition to his lavish trophy haul with Germany and Bayern, he won his second Ballon d’Or in 1976.
Final (Glasgow): Bayern Munich 1-0 Saint-Etienne
- Champions League Archives Part I – The Birth of the European Cup
- Champions League Archives Part II: The 1950s—Real Madrid’s Five Star Era
- Champions League Archives Part III: Early 1960s—Latin Nations Continue to Rule
- Champions League Archives Part IV: Late 1960s—The First Non-Latin Winners
- Champions League Archives Part V: 1970-1974—Total Football
Categories: Champions League Archives