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Total delight to watch

sports Updated: May 31, 2010 01:14 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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Featuring the likes of the incomparable Johan Cruyff, the Dutch mesmerized fans and opponents alike with an attacking brand of soccer known as "Total Football." The West Germans, guided by Franz Beckenbauer, subscribed to a more conservative yet equally effective interpretation of the revolutionary scheme.

"Total Football" came to full fruition at the 1974 competition in West Germany, marking a new era in World Cup history.

The match between West Germany vs. the Netherlands was also dubbed a contest between Cruyff and Beckenbauer.

The Netherlands had Germany running ragged right from kickoff. After an amazing first minute where the Germans didn't even touch the ball, Cruyff began a purposeful and ambitious run deep inside Germany's end.

He left Berti Vogts for dead and the German defender brought the Dutch stylist down inside the penalty area. Johan Neeskens converted the ensuing penalty kick and the Netherlands were up 1-0 after only two minutes.

For the next 20 minutes, the Dutch toyed with their opponents, mocking the Germans with their slick passes and insolent possession, making them chase the ball in vain. The message was clear from Cruyff and his cohorts: merely beating the Germans wasn't enough, they wanted to humiliate them.

But like German teams usually do, they fought back. Marshaled by Beckenbauer, they made the Dutch pay for their arrogance. Bernd Holzenbein won a penalty for the Germand and Paul Breitner drilled the ball past Jan Jongbloed in the 25th minute. The game had swung.

Two minutes before halftime, Germany's Rainer Bonhof sped down the right side before delivering a cross into the box. Always in the right place at the right time, Gerd Muller dragged the ball back and swept it past the Dutch goalkeeper.

It was the 68th and final goal of Muller's international career.

Their pride stung, the Netherlands came out firing in the second half, but as time passed, Cruyff became less and less of a factor, his influence stifled by Vogts, and the Dutch failed to find a route through a steely German defence.

Beckenbauer, who had lost the 1966 final and a heartbreaking semifinal four years earlier against the Italians, lifted the new World Cup trophy.

Twenty years after Switzerland, Germany were champions again.