UEFA Euro 1980 would see an introduction to a new-look tournament featuring eight teams. Italy did not make it past the group stage but cemented the base of a side that would go on to become World Cup champions two years later. Belgium’s golden generation proved to be the tournament surprise despite losing to mighty West Germany in the Final.
Euro 1976 seemed set to give us another chapter of an unfolding football rivalry as West Germany and the Netherlands found themselves together at the latter stages of a European Finals for the first time. However, the stage was stolen by Czechoslovakia and a mostly unknown player whose name would eventually go on to become a verb: Antonin Panenka.
Belgium seemed to be a fitting neutral host nation in the climate of Cold War relations and it was perhaps for that reason that it was chosen to host the European Championship in 1972. The tournament retained the four-team format that had by now become familiar and there was no doubt as to which team went into it as favorites: Gerd Muller’s debuting West Germany.
Domestic football leagues are in full swing in Italy, Spain, France and England and are joined this weekend by Germany’s Bundesliga, completing the set of major European competitions to get underway. The start of a new season marks the end of a traumatic summer for German football, says Andreas Dühn. Here he previews the forthcoming Bundesliga campaign.
The unbelievable happened today in Kazan, as already-eliminated South Korea pushed the World Cup defending champions of Germany out of the tournament, scoring two goals during stoppage time. It is the first time ever that the Germans fail to make it past the Group Stage, a setback that will spark much debates and criticism over Die Mannschaft.
They are indestructible. You can love them or hate them, but there’s no doubt that Germany are one step above any team when it comes to mental fortitude. For more than 20 minutes last night, the Germans were losing 0-1 to Sweden, and virtually out of the World Cup. Still, the full time score read 2-1 for Die Mannschaft, thanks to a late goal by Tony Kroos.
If we were in Joachim Low, we wouldn’t be much concerned at Germany’s 0-1 loss to Mexico in their opening match in Russia. The history of the World Cup is full of occurrences where the defending champions tripped during their first dance, and when the loss comes at the hand of such a solid and spectacular Mexican side, there is little to be ashamed about.
As World Cup 1990 approached, Italy’s coach Azeglio Vicini could lineup strikers such as Gianluca Vialli and Roberto Baggio. Still, he decided to add to his squad a little known Sicilian forward from Juventus. His name was Salvatore Schillaci, and he became the underdog King of the Notti Magiche (“Magic Nights”) of Italia ’90, scoring 6 goals and leading the Azzurri to the 3rd place.
“You will take the last penalty, because you have always been decisive so far.” This is what coach Marcello Lippi told Fabio Grosso before the penalty shootouts that determined the outcome of World Cup 2006 Final between Italy and France. Lippi’s choice to bet on a player who was not even part of his original starting lineup proved to be a winning one.
Sergio Goycoechea was not even supposed to play in World Cup 1990, as the starting goalkeeper of Argentina was undoubtedly Nery Pumpido. But when Pumpido suffered an injury, the first choice became this unknown goalie with a cowboy face, who ended up leading the Albiceleste up to the Final match, shattering Italy’s Notti Magiche dreams along the way.
Scoring the decisive goal during a World Cup Final: Could you ask more from a 22-year-old boy? Mario Gotze is the man who in 2014 made Germany celebrate their fourth world title. Everybody would have bet on a shining future for him. Instead, Gotze slowly declined in the following four years, up to the point that he was not selected for the upcoming World Cup.
“Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.” British footballer Gary Lineker, the author of this famous quote, was not always right. Because during World Cup 1994, the incumbent World Champions were eliminated by a header by Yordan Letchkov, a Bulgarian midfielder who looked like a bookkeeper.