Watertight security surrounded the 1974 World Cup in West Germany following the murder of Israeli athletes that shocked the world at the Munich Olympics two years earlier.
The tournament saw a new format — the quarters and semis were scrapped in favour of two group phases — and the birth of "total football".
Finalists Holland, led by the outstanding Johan Cruyff, and Franz Beckenbauer's West Germany were the leading exponents of the new art, which involved players switching positions at will to open up defences. Holland's Cruyff won a penalty, scored by Neeskens early on. Holland toyed with the Germans for a while, then suddenly lost grip. Paul Breitner equalised and Gerd Muller scored the clincher. Star value — Johan Cruyff: Name was synonymous with the revolutionary "total football" employed by Holland. Grzegorz Lato of Poland with 7 goals was the top-scorer.
Despite a threatened boycott in protest at the Videla military regime, all the qualifiers assembled in Argentina. The same format as 1974 was adopted and controversy surrounded Argentina's passage into the final. The Argentines, for whom Mario Kempes was a revelation up front, romped to a 6-0 win over Peru in their final match of the second phase to oust Brazil on goal difference, prompting cries of fix from their bitter South American rivals. Argentina took the lead through Kempes after 37 minutes before subsitute Dirk Nanninga equalised late on. In extra time Kempes restored Argentina's lead and Daniel Bertoni made it 3-1, leaving captain Daniel Passarella to lift Argentina's first World Cup.
STAR VALUE: The Valencia striker was the only overseas-based player to be chosen by Argentine coach Cesar Luis Menotti. Flowing locks and a dashing, leggy style marked him out on the pitch, together with his eye for goal and ability to rise to the big occasion. He scored six goals in the tournament.