West Germany hosted the finals for the first time, with an entry of 99 countries. Security was the primary concern throughout the tournament, with the memory of the massacre of Israeli atheltes at the 1972 Munich Olympics still fresh in the mind. Thankfully, the tournament passed without major incident.

Countries competing in their first world cup finals were; East Germany, Australia, Zaire and Haiti.

The format

Alterations were made to the format for the 1974 competition. The 16 competing teams were split into 4 groups of 4, with the teams in each group playing in a round robin format. After each team had played the others in their group once the two leading teams would go forward to the next stage. Now the teams would play each other in the same format as before, making 2 groups of 4.

The winners of the two groups would contest the final, the second placed countries having to settle for a play-off for third place. For reasons that should become obvious this system was found to be unsatisfactory, and was abandoned with the enlargement of the tournament to 24 teams in Spain.

The venues

Matches were held at 9 stadiums spread throughout West Germany.

The results

First Round

	Group I						

West Germany 1 0  Chile        (Berlin)
East Germany 2 0  Australia    (Hamburg)
Chile        1 1  East Germamy (Berlin)
Australia    0 3  West Germany (Hamburg)
Australia    0 0  Chile        (Berlin)
East Germany 1 0  West Germany (Hamburg)

East Germany    3  2  1  0  4  1  5         
West Germany    3  2  0  1  4  1  4      
Chile           3  0  2  1  1  2  2 
Australia       3  0  1  2  0  5  1  

The first group contained both Germanies and both got off to winning starts.The East Germans beat a side of Australian immigrants while the West struggled past the Chileans. Chile had qualified for the tournament after the Soviet Union scratched from a play-off game. The communist leaders refused to sanction their players to take part in a game at Chile's National Stadium in Santiago, where thousands of left-wing political prisoners and been held and killed in the course of the 1973 coup d'etat led by Augusto Pinochet. Chile's first game in West Berlin was attended by vocal Chilean dissidents, and the best Chilean player Carlos Caszely. The German self-professed Maoist Paul Breitner scored the only goal of the game.

The path of the group led inexorably to the clash between the divided halves of Germany to decide who would progress. Security, already tight, was stepped up another level, Hamburg was awash with armed police. Inevitably the game was overshadowed, and despite West Germany having the lions share of the game, it was the East's Jurgen Sparwasser who scored the only goal as the game came to a close.

	Group II						

Brazil        0 0  Yugoslavia   (Frankfurt)
Zaire         0 2  Scotland     (Dortmund)
Yugoslavia    9 0  Zaire        (Gelsenkirchen)
Scotland      0 0  Brazil       (Frankfurt)
Zaire         0 3  Brazil       (Gelsenkirchen)
Scotland      1 1  Yugoslavia   (Frankfurt)

Yugoslavia     3  1  2  0 10  1  4      
Brazil         3  1  2  0  3  0  4      
Scotland       3  1  2  0  3  1  4 
Zaire          3  0  0  3  0 14  0 

The tournament opened with Brazil taking on Yugoslavia. This dull goalless draw was a poor excuse for a curtain-raiser. Brazil had faded after the heights of 1970 and the retirement of Pele, and they were now at their most threatening from free-kicks. Meanwhile Scotland handicapped themselves by only managing to score twice against the weak African representatives, Zaire. Yugoslavia showed up the paucity of this effort my bagging 9 when it was their turn. Scotland led by Billy Bremner, performed admirably to hold Brazil to a draw, and were unfortunate that Bremner's Leeds teammates, Joe Jordan and Peter Lorimer could not convert their chances. Scotland now needed to beat Yugoslavia, but struggled to make a breakthrough and many players, notably Kenny Dalglish faded in the summer heat. With 10 minutes to go Stanislav Karasi scored, and although Jordan managed to scramble an equaliser, but could not maintain the momentum needed for a winner.

Brazil swatted Zaire aside in a game memorable for the bizarre antics of Zairian defender Alunga Mwepu. Brazil were awarded a free-kick and Mwepu, sprinted up from his position in a defensive wall to pelt the ball away before Brazil were able to take their free-kick.

	Group III						

Sweden         0 0  Bulgaria     (Düsseldorf)
Uruguay        0 2  Netherlands  (Hannover)
Netherlands    0 0  Sweden       (Dortmund)
Bulgaria       1 1  Uruguay      (Hannover)
Bulgaria       1 4  Netherlands  (Dortmund)
Sweden         3 0  Uruguay      (Düsseldorf)

Netherlands   3  2  1  0  6  1  5      
Sweden        3  1  2  0  3  0  4      
Bulgaria      3  0  2  1  2  5  2 
Uruguay       3  0  1  2  1  6  1  

The 1974 World Cup is synonymous with 'Total Football'. This style, pioneered by Ajax Amsterdam had its foundation the idea that any player (goalkeeper excepted) should be able to attack and defend and adapt to play any position required. Players were to become versatile. Holland and Johan Cruijff are remembered in conjunction with this new footballing fashion, although the style was also adopted by West Germany.

So Holland confidently breezed through their opening group, dismantling a Uruguay side more interested in foul play than threatening the Dutch goal. They failed to beat Sweden, which highlighted Holland's lack of a natural goalscorer and the fact that some footballers are more interchangeable than others.

Sweden despite not scoring in their first two games, managed to qualify by beating Uruguay, with two goals from Ralf Edström. Bulgaria, who had still failed to win a World Cup finals game despite participating in numerous previous tournaments, were demolished by the skill and vigour of Cruijff, Rob Rensenbrink on the left wing, and Johan Neeskens from the penalty spot.

	Group IV						

Italy           3 1  Haiti           (München)
Poland          3 2  Argentina       (Stuttgart)
Haiti           0 7  Poland          (München)
Argentina       1 1  Italy           (Stuttgart)
Argentina       4 1  Haiti           (München)
Poland          2 1  Italy           (Stuttgart)

Poland          3  3  0  0 12  3  6      
Argentina       3  1  1  1  7  5  3      
Italy           3  1  1  1  5  4  3 
Haiti           3  0  0  3  2 14  0 

Haiti, playing in their first World Cup, gave Italy a shock by scoring first,the first time goalkeeper Dino Zoff had conceded an international goal for 1,147 minutes of football. Italy came back to win, but Haiti felt they had aquitted themselves well. Their appeal for neutrals sympathy diminished afterwards due to their treatment of defender Ernst Jean-Joseph failed a drug test and was virtually abducted out of Germany by his own football association. Morale shot to pieces, Haiti would be thrashed by Poland in their next game.

Poland had won their first game, taking a vital two goal lead in the first ten minutes against Argentina, helped by the Argentina defence being melded into an unfamiliar formation and mistakes from keeper, Daniel Carnevali. But Poland also benefited from the ability of quality players like Grzegorz Lato and Kazimierz Deyna and had already amassed large quantities of brownie points from eliminating England in qualification. Argentina regrouped at half-time, bringing on Rene Houseman but no sooner had they pulled a goal back then Lato restored the two goal difference. A final consolation goal from Carlos Babington would not help the Argentineans.

Argentina went on to out-play Italy in their next match, but were denied a win by an own-goal from Roberto Perfumo. Italy failed to capitalise on such help, and played poorly again in their final match against Poland. Luigi Riva, Italy's closest thing to a goalscorer was dropped for this final match, but no one else could make an impact, and never looked close to getting the draw they needed to qualify. Argentina, enjoying a few more goals against Haiti, would go through with the Poles.

Second Round

	Group A						

Netherlands     4 0  Argentina       (Gelsenkirchen)
Brazil          1 0  East Germany    (Hannover)
East Germany    0 2  Netherlands     (Gelsenkirchen)
Argentina       1 2  Brazil          (Hannover)
Netherlands     2 0  Brazil          (Dortmund)
Argentina       1 1  East Germany    (Gelsenkirchen)

Netherlands     3  3  0  0  8  0  6      
Brazil          3  2  0  1  3  3  4      
East Germany    3  0  1  2  1  4  1 
Argentina       3  0  1  2  2  7  1 

This second phase group would be dominated by two teams, Brazil and Holland. The Dutch overwhelmed Argentina in their opening game with Cruijff scoring twice. Argentina had to play without Babington, who was suspended after being booked in each of the three first-round games. The East Germans looked to have peaked too early. The Brazilian goal that defeated them was something special and is still fondly remembered. Rivelino, was lining up a free-kick and Jairzinho joined the end of the East German defensive wall. Rivelino shot directly at Jairzinho, who ducked out of the way, and the ball curved into the goal, the unsighted German keeper Jürgen Croy left stranded and bewildered.

Cruijff had a quieter match against East Germany, but Holland still won comfortably, with goals from Neeskens and Rensenbrink providing the damage. Meanwhile Brazil beat their Latin American rivals Argentina (the first time the two nations had played each other in a World Cup), with Rivelino and Jairzinho again on the scoresheet and displaying more of the skill and flair that Brazilian fans had become accustomed to.

Brazil and Holland thus played for a place in the final, in a keenly fought game that saw the sides kicking lumps out of each other. Neeskens in particular was targeted by the Brazilians until finally Luis Pereira who up till then was having an impressive tournament was sent off. Brazil had chances to score when the Dutch offside trap failed, but neither Jairzinho nor Paulo Cesar could convert. The Dutch goals were both beautiful sights to behold. The first saw Neeskens and Cruijff interchange passes before Neeskens lobbed the keeper, the second an instinctive and accurate volley from Cruijff.

	Group B						

Yugoslavia      0 2  West Germany    (Düsseldorf)
Sweden          0 1  Poland          (Stuttgart)
Poland          2 1  Yugoslavia      (Frankfurt)
West Germany    4 2  Sweden          (Düsseldorf)
Poland          0 1  West Germany    (Frankfurt)
Sweden          2 1  Yugoslavia      (Düsseldorf)

West Germany    3  3  0  0  7  2  6      
Poland          3  2  0  1  3  2  4      
Sweden          3  1  0  2  4  6  2 
Yugoslavia      3  0  0  3  2  6  0 

The second stage saw West German Franz Beckenbauer begin to let his outstanding talents flow, and he had an excellent game against Yugoslavia. The game was won with goals from 'der Bomber' - Gerd Müller and Breitner. Poland managed to beat Sweden, but it was a close game. Sweden missed a host of chances, even a penalty, but Poland put away a chance, Lato heading in after a game of head-tennis in the Swedish box.

The Poles also beat Yugoslavia, their first goal coming from a penalty. A Stanislav Karasi brought the match level again but it was Lato who scored the winner, again with a header, again a cross from Robert Gadocha supplying the ammunition. West Germany wept past Sweden in a rain-sodden game, although Sweden scored first with a terrific volley from Ralf Edström, but 4 goals from West Germany gave them an empthatetic victory.

Poland played West Germany in the deciding match, but the game nearly didn't start at all. Torrential rain had left the pitch water-logged and unplayable shortly before kick-off, but after a delay, a great effort was made to clear water off the pitch and the game proceeded. It was a tight game to start with, and two great reflex saves from Sepp Maier prevented Poland from opening the scoring. The pitch was still heavy and players from both sides would tie in the second half. The Germans remained slightly stronger, and Polish keeper Jan Tomaszewski saved another penalty, taken by Uli Höness. Müller gave West Germany the victory, redirecting a misplaced shot from Höness past Tomaszewski and taking them into the final.

Third Place Match

Poland 1 0 Brazil


Netherlands 1 2 West Germany

Netherlands: Jan Jongbloed, Wim Suurbier, Arie Haan, Wim Rijsbergen (Theo De Jong), Rud Krol, Wim Jansen, Wim Van Hanegem, Johan Neeskens, Johnny Rep, Johan Cruijff, Rob Rensenbrink (Rene van der Kerkhof)

West Germany: Sepp Maier, Berti Vogts, Georg Schwarzenbeck, Franz Beckenbauer, Paul Breitner, Uli Höness, Wolfgang Overath, Rainer Bonhof, Jürgen Grabowski, Gerd Müller, Bernd Hölzenbein

The start of the 1974 final was momentarily delayed when the officials noticed that no corner flags were in place, but the missing ornamentations were located and put in place before most observers noticed. Holland took the lead in the game within the first minute, scoring almost before any West German player had touched the ball. Holland took possession after the kick-off and indolently passed the ball between themselves before Cruijff set off on a run, beating his man-marker for the day Berti Vogts, and glided into the penalty area. Höeness brought down Cruijff with an outstretched leg and a penalty was awarded which Neeskens duly converted.

Ahead so soon might have been too much too soon for the Dutch, and they proceeded to showboat slightly for the rest of the half, passing the ball around with ease but not really threatening the German defence. Such laxity came to an end when the Germans earned a penalty in turn. This time it was Breitner, ghosting with the ball into the Dutch area whereupon he was felled by Wim Jansen. Breitner took the penalty himself, scored, equalised and brought the Germans back into the game.

The turning tide filled the Germans with confidence, and they started to look more threatening. Hoeness made a chance out of nothing, and rolled the ball past Jongbloed, the ball was rolling into an empty net before Wim Rijsbergen managed to get back and clear the ball away. Soon afterwards, Holland broke away, with Cruiyff running at an exposed German defence marshalled by Beckenbauer. Cruiyff drew Beckenbauer towards him, and then slipped a pass to Johnny Rep who only had Meier to beat. But Meier saved Rep's weak shot, and the chance was lost.

Just before half-time Germany were on the attack again, Rainer Bonhof sped up the right wing and crossed the ball to Müller, who sweetly controlled the ball and slotted it into the back of the net. West Germany were ahead. In the second half Holland were forced to substitute Rensenbrink, who was not fully fit. Neeskens had a volley saved by Meier, but that aside Holland failed to create significant chances, and West Germany captained by Beckenbauer held out to win West Germany their second World Cup. West Germany could have had a wider winning margin, with another penalty refused, and Muller harshly given offside when he would have surely scored a second. For Holland it was a case of 'what if' and although they emerged runners-up they have remained cocooned in the memory as one of the most entertaining and attractive sides to compete in the World Cup.

Top Scorers

7 - Grzegorz Lato (Poland)

5 - Johan Neeskens (Netherlands), Andrzej Szarmach (Poland)

4 - Gerd Müller (West Germany), Johnny Rep (Netherlands), Ralf Edström (Sweden)