West Germany World Cup 1986

Franz Beckenbauer is one of the truly great names of European and world football, everywhere his career took him he picked up winners medals of many kinds.  When he eventually retired from the pitch he went into management, becoming the national team manager of his home country in 1984, his tenure as the West German national team coach would culminate in the lifting of the 1990 FIFA World Cup.  As a player he made his international debut for West Germany in 1965 during a qualifying match for the world cup of 1966.  The match was a Group 2 game against Sweden, the Germans winning 2 – 1.  As we know West Germany qualified for the ’66 world cup, eventually losing to England in the final.  Personally, it was a great tournament for Beckenbauer.  Despite losing in the final, he had announced himself on the world stage, scoring a couple of goals at Hillsborough against Switzerland in his countries first game of the ’66 world cup.  He would go on to represent West Germany until 1977 earning over a hundred caps.  During that time he picked up a European Championship winners medal in 1972 and the highlight of his international playing career came in 1974 when as host nation the West Germans won the FIFA World Cup beating the Netherlands at the Olympic stadium in Beckenbauer’s home city of Munich. Beckenbauer’s long association with his home town club Bayern Munich began in 1964 after arriving from the youth team at neighbouring SC 1906 Munich.  SC 1906 was a Munich sports club from the south of the city, it has since merged with FC Haidhausen to form SV 06 Haidhausen.  Beckenbauer’s arrival at Bayern pretty much coincided with the formation of the Bundesliga, in only the second season of the Bundesliga Beckenbauer’s Bayern won promotion into the Bundesliga from the old Regional Southern league of German football.   

As a player with Bayern he won Four Bundesliga medals, four DFB Pokal Cup winner’s medals, a European Cup Winners Cup winner’s medal and an Intercontinental Cup winner’s medal.  In 1977 he left for the North American Soccer league to join Pele at New York Cosmos.  With the Cosmos he won the NASL Championship (or the Soccer Bowl as it was also known) three times as well as two Trans-Atlantic Cups.  In 1981 Beckenbauer returned to West Germany to join SV Hamburg winning another Bundesliga winner’s medal.  So as I’ve said, Beckenbauer was named team manager of West Germany in 1984, taking over after the European Championship of 1984 in France.  Surprisingly the West Germans had been disappointing in France, unable to make it out of the group.  In their opening game of Euro ’84 the West Germans drew with Portugal 0 – 0, in their second game they beat Romania 2 – 1, both goals coming from Werder Bremen striker Rudi Völler.  In their third and final group game the West Germans lost 1 – 0 to eventual group winners Spain.  So that meant the West Germans were going home, finishing third in a four team group.  Spain and Portugal went through to the next phase, West Germany and Romania went home.  The West German national team came in for some criticism from both the fans and the press back home, the then national team manager Jupp Derwall stepping down to be replaced by Beckenbauer.  Beckenbauer’s first game in charge of the national team was their opening game of their world cup qualifying campaign, against Sweden, in the middle of that October.  It was a fairly comfortable and trouble free introduction for Beckenbauer at FC Köln’s Mungersdorfer stadium (now called the RheinEnergie stadium).  The West Germans won the game 2 – 0, the goals coming from Uwe Rahn of Borussia Mönchengladbach and German football legend Karl-Heinz Rummenigge of Inter Milan.  The next game for Beckenbauer’s team was a couple of months later against minnows Malta at the Maltese national stadium, the Ta' Qali.  The Maltese national team gave their West German visitors something to think about.  Malta actually scored first in a surprisingly close game, however by the time the Yugoslavian referee blew for full time the West Germans had scored three to Malta’s two. West Germany then visited Portugal in the February of 1985, they came away with a 2 – 1 victory, the West German goals provided by Pierre Littbarski and Rudi Völler. After that disappointing European Championship of the previous summer Beckenbauer had brought a confidence to the West German national team, they were back to their normal selves, efficient and impressive.  A month or so later Beckenbauer’s team hosted Malta at the Ludwigspark stadium, home of FC Saarbrücken.  There was no close match this time with the European minnows of Malta, reality came knocking for the Maltese as they were thumped 6 – 0, the goals coming from Felix Magath, Pierre Littbarski with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Uwe Rahn scoring themselves a couple each, the West Germans were coasting to Mexico.  The next world cup qualifying game for West Germany took place at Prague’s Evžena Rošického stadium and provided West Germany with their most impressive result of that world cup qualifying campaign.  

Their opponents Czechoslovakia were a very decent team, never a push over and actually had defeated West Germany in 1976 to lift the European Championship trophy. However this time around, it turned out to be a cakewalk for the West Germans.  Czechoslovakia were battered 5 – 1, the West Germans running riot.  This match wasn’t against Malta, a minnow of world football, this was against a respected decent team.  Beckenbauer had really succeeded in turning the West Germany of the mid 1980’s into a slick, efficient machine.  West Germany’s goals that night were scored by Thomas Berthold, Matthias Herget, Lothar Matthäus, Klaus Allofs and Pierre Littbarski, the consolation goal for Czechoslovakia was scored by Stanislav Griga of Sparta Prague.  After a summer break West Germany headed for Solna in Stockholm for a meeting with Sweden at the Råsunda Stadium.  The game, played in the middle of September, finished 2 – 2, the West Germans knew they were going to Mexico the following year.  However, their final two games of the qualifying phase included a surprising and disappointing 1 – 0 defeat at home to Portugal and a 2 – 2 home draw with the Czechs.  Maybe not the results Beckenbauer was looking for in the final phase of qualifying but his West German team finished top of the group and were heading for Mexico, Portugal would be accompanying them.  Franz Beckenbauer took a twenty two man squad to Mexico.  The squad consisted of goalkeepers Harald Schumacher of FC Köln, Uli Stein of SV Hamburg and Eike Immel of Borussia Dortmund.  The defensive contingent was made up of Andreas Brehme of Kaiserslautern, Karlheinz Förster of VFB Stuttgart, Hans Peter Briegel of Italian club Verona, Matthias Herget of KFC Uerdingen 05 then known as Bayer, Thomas Berthold of Eintracht Frankfurt, Klaus Augenthaler and Norbert Eder of Bayern Munich and Ditmar Jakobs of SV Hamburg.  The midfielders were Pierre Littbarski of FC Köln, Felix Magath and Wolfgang Rolff of SV Hamburg, Uwe Rahn of Borussia Mönchengladbach, Lothar Matthäus of Bayern Munich, Karl Allgöwer of VFB Stuttgart and Olaf Thon of Schalke 04.  The strikers were Rudi Völler of Werder Bremen, Klaus Allofs of FC Köln, team captain Karl-Heinz Rummenigge of Inter Milan and Dieter Hoeneß of Bayern Munich.  It was an extremely strong squad that had comfortably won its place at the Mexico world cup, a squad made up of youth and experience, a well balanced squad headed by a strong team manager in Franz Beckenbauer.  They headed for Mexico as one of the tournament favourites, runners up at the previous world cup in Spain.

It’s worth mentioning that black and white kit of West Germany of the mid ‘80’s.  It was one of the most recognisable in world football, smart and clean.  The white shirt was bereft of any great detail apart from the team badge and the Adidas logo, yet it was one of the most eye catching with the thin red, black and yellow stripes around the neck.  When the reunification of Germany happened a few years later the new German national team would keep the characteristics of that shirt, the blue detail of the East German shirt would not be used.  When they arrived in Mexico West Germany were based in Querétaro, central Mexico.  They were drawn into Group E along with Denmark, Uruguay and Scotland.  When I was a kid back in the ‘80’s one thing I often heard said of West Germany was that they were slow starters at tournaments, it was true, they were and world cup Mexico ’86 was no exception.  West Germany’s first game in Group E was a meeting with South Americans Uruguay, it ended 1 – 1, the West German goal scored by Klaus Allofs.  The South Americans had took an early lead in the 4th minute courtesy of Antonio Alzamendi of Argentinian club, River Plate.  The West Germans left it late in equalizing, Allofs goal not coming until six minutes from the end.  Before the tournament started pundits were saying that the European teams might have problems with the summer heat in Mexico and many of those European teams did.  About four days later West Germany met Alex Ferguson’s Scotland at the same stadium where they had played Uruguay, the Estadio Corregidora.  The West Germans must have felt a pang of Déjà vu, as their opponents once again took the lead, this time Gordon Strachan of Manchester United scored for Scotland in the 18th minute.  Fortunately for the West Germans, Scotland didn’t hold the lead long, about five minutes later it was 1 – 1, Rudi Völler levelling.  Not long after the start of the second half Klaus Allofs made it 2 – 1 in West Germany’s favour.  Beckenbauer’s team were unlucky not to find the Scottish net again as they were clearly the better team, however West Germany finished the game with all the points. 

Their final Group E game was against Denmark.  Denmark were the surprise package of that early Group stage, they had a decent team, better than most people were giving them credit for and they surprised quite a few people, including the West Germans.  West Germany walked out on to the pitch at the Estadio Corregidora a point behind the Danes on three points, however most pundits were making the West Germans the favourites for the match.  The game went to form, Denmark won the game 2 – 0, the Danish goals coming from Jesper Olsen of Manchester United and John Eriksen of Feyenoord Rotterdam.  The Danes won the group, winning all their first round group games therefore finishing the group on maximum points, the West Germans finished second on three points, joining them in the next phase would be Urugauy, Scotland were going home.  Despite the bright start for the Danes they would be knocked out of the tournament in the last 16, losing heavily to Spain 5 – 1, the West Germans on the other hand met North Africans Morocco at the Estadio Universitario in San Nicolás de los Garza in north east Mexico.  For the West Germans it was one of those damned if you do damned if you don’t games, a potential banana skin of a match that everyone was expecting them to win.  Morocco did well, often giving the West Germans something to think about, it was a close game and it took until the closing moments of normal time for a goal to be scored, luckily for West Germany it was Lothar Matthäus who broke the deadlock therefore sending his team into the quarter finals.  Waiting for West Germany in the last eight was host nation Mexico, the hosts about to be roared on by over 40,000 fans, Beckenbauer’s team were up against it in the cauldron of the Estadio Universitario.  Again, it was a close game for the West Germans, as you’d expect the Mexican national team buoyed by the hugely partisan crowd were able to go up a couple of gears therefore giving the West Germans a game and a half.  When the Columbian referee blew for full time it was 0 – 0, extra time would be played, however that ended goalless too, so a place in the semifinals would be decided by a penalty shoot-out.  Once again West Germany proved their class winning the shoot-out 4 – 1, they were through to the semis and a meeting with Henri Michel’s very talented French team, the then current European champions.  Of course, these teams had met in the last world cup semi fours previous in Spain, in my opinion a match that gave the world cup its best ever game in my life time.  That semifinal in Spain between West Germany and France had everything you could possibly want in a world cup semifinal, well for a neutral anyway!  Jupp Derwall’s West German team emerged victorious from that semifinal in Spain and as the semifinal in Mexico approached people were rubbing their hands together in anticipation, the excitement of the business end of Mexico ’86 had finally arrived.  The two teams had to travel to Guadalajara for their semifinal encounter at the Estadio Jalisco stadium, the two teams walking on to the pitch behind the Italian referee in front of 45,000 baying fans.  There would be no extra time and penalties this time for West Germany and France, Beckenbauer’s side made sure of this game in normal time.

The West Germans started the better team, they looked in the mood and with less than ten minutes gone in the match they were 1 – 0 up thanks to a goal from Andreas Brehme.  West Germany had won themselves a free kick just outside the French 18 yard box on the right hand side.  After a knock on to Brehme, the Kaiserslautern defender shot low and hard, the French goal keeper Joël Bats unable to keep it out, it was 1 – 0 West Germany.  That goal stung the French into action, a French side full of class players that included the team captain Michel Platini as well as Alain Giresse, Jean-Pierre Papin, Jean Tigana and Jean-Marc Ferreri.  Straight after that German goal the French broke on the attack in a move that included Platini and Giresse, the French saw the ball go just wide of the West German net.  The French chances were coming regularly now, unfortunately for them they were going wide, by half time the West Germans were still 1 – 0 up.  Luck wasn’t with the French that day, Platini’s goal in the second half was judged off side.  The Germans had their chances too, however it wouldn’t be until the final moments of normal time that the game saw its second goal and it was a goal that sent West Germany in to the final.  From a break in midfield Rudi Völler found himself alone with the ball, after chipping the ball over the French goal keeper it was a simple task to knock the ball into the net, it was 2 – 0, West Germany were in the final therefore becoming the first country to reach five world cup finals.  As a final it wasn’t much to write home about for the neutral and for a major final the pitch was well below standard.  The West Germans were clearly suffering in the midday heat of the Estadio Azteca in the Mexican capital.  Also the Argentinians were going to ground easily trying to fool the referee into awarding them free kicks and that’s how Argentina managed to score the opening goal after Maradonna had fooled the match official into thinking he had been fouled.  With little more than twenty minutes gone Jorge Burruchaga floated the free kick into the West German 18 yard box, it found the head of José Luis Brown of Argentine club Deportivo Español, the ball sailing into the West German goal, it was 1 – 0 Argentina.  Argentina increased their lead about ten minutes into the second half after Jorge Valdano of Real Madrid found himself unchallenged in the West German 18 yard box, it was simple tap in, appalling defending by West Germany, the South Americans were 2 – 0 to the good.  It was obvious that West Germany were off the boil, not looking at all like their usual selves, however nineteen minutes later they got themselves back in the game following a corner from Andreas Brehme, in came the ball and there was Karl-Heinz Rummenigge to score from only three yards out, the West Germans were back in it.  With their tails up West Germany continued to press, the Argentinians happy to sit back and soak up the pressure and with about ten minutes of the game left West Germany drew level from a corner, Rudi Völler heading in from close distance, it was game on.  Or that was how it seemed, yet lady luck was still smiling on the Argentinians, three minutes after the West Germans had drawn level Jorge Burruchaga scored for his team handing the 1986 world cup to Argentina.  It was a cruel twist of fate for West Germany after being behind for so long.  To pull themselves back and see it snatched away from them right at the end must have been a sickener, particularly seeing as Argentina had hardly set the tournament alight.  As we know West Germany would gain sweet revenge at the next world cup in Italy four years later, the two teams meeting in the final again, this time it was Beckenbauer’s West Germany who would lift the golden trophy leaving the Argentinians in tears. Beckenbauer handed his notice in not long after that world cup triumph of 1990, with the world cup once again in West German hands his job was done.  After Italia ’90 he went straight back into club management with French club Marseilles, winning the French title in 1991.  After that victory in French domestic football his former club Bayern Munich came calling, an offer he wouldn’t and couldn’t say no too.  He took Bayern to the Bundesliga title in 1994 and to more European silverware success in 1996 following a 5 – 1 aggregate victory over French club Bordeaux in the UEFA Cup.  


Richard Fenton. August 2015. 


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