Much is being made of Germany’s defeat by Mexico. Something even weirder happened in the 1974 tournament which was hosted by West Germany.
It was the “poor cousin” East Germany who did the tripping. This was their only appearance in the FIFA tournament. Of course, the country ceased to exist in 1990 and whatever good players existed at that time became part of the united German team. They must have outlived the Trabant but probably did not have as much staying power as fellow Easterner Angela Merkel had.
In 1974, 16 teams took part in 4 groups of 4. Group 1 consisted of East Germany, West Germany, Chile and Australia.
West Germany started off with an 1-0 win against Chile. The match between the two Germanys was the last match of the group.
Somehow or other East Germany won 1-0, with the goal scored by Jurgen Sparwasser.
Finally the results for group 1 read East Germany 5, West Germany 4, Chile 2 and Australia 1. Thus the two Germanys advanced to the second round.
In that tournament the second round had two groups A and B each with 4 teams. The 4 teams played a league, and the toppers from A and B went to the finals and the runners-up went to the 3rd-place match. There were no semi-finals.
In Group A, East Germany lost 1-0 to Brazil, 2-0 to Netherlands and drew 1-1 with Argentina. The pool result was Netherlands 6, Brazil 4, East Germany 1, Argentina 1. Thus ended East Germany’s only World Cup appearance.
In Group B, West Germany beat Yugoslavia 2-0, Sweden 4-2, and Poland 2-0. The pool result was West Germany 6, Poland 4, Sweden 4 and Yugoslavia 0.
Poland beat Brazil 1-0 for the 3rd place.
In the final at Munich, West Germany won 2-1 against Netherlands with goals scored by Johan Neeskens from a penalty in the 2nd minute. Paul Breitner equalized from a penalty in the 25th minute. “Der Bomber” Gerd Muller scored in the 44th minute, and thus the home team won the 1974 tournament with a 2-1 victory.
That was Muller’s last international appearance. His record of 14 goals in the World Cup stood as a record until being surpassed by Ronaldo and Miroslav Klose in recent years.
Many of the Netherlands team went on to lose the 1978 final to Argentina, who hosted that tournament. Still later the Dutch were runners-up to Spain in 2010 in South Africa. Netherlands is still to win a World Cup final.