Continuing the Bundesliga Rewind series, Wolfgang Steiner takes a look at one of the most famous Borussia Mönchengladbach-Bayern Munich clashes of the 70s, when both teams strode the Bundesliga like titans.
Borussia Mönchengladbach 3 Bayern Munich 1
Place: Mönchengladbach, Bökelberg
Time: Wednesday, 8 p.m..
Date: 14 April 1971
Referee: Herden (Hamburg)
The setting before the top game of the 1970-71 Bundesliga season was that Borussia Mönchengladbach had accumulated 36-14 points with a goals difference of +32 with Bayern at second place on 34-16 points and a goals difference of +24. For Bayern it thus was vital to either draw or win.
A defeat had to be avoided at all costs.
But avoiding a defeat at Mönchengladbach’s Bökelberg stadium would prove too difficult a task, as the holders were in a league of their own in 1971. Even Bayern with its cast of super stars could not prevent their side from getting torn apart in the tornado that Gladbach were about to unleash.
But the game started so differently. Only seconds after the kick-off, Franz Beckenbauer started his first deep foray into the Gladbach half, in a manner that would soon become his trademark. Der Kaiser soloed effortlessly from close to the center-circle into the opposition box, beating off no less than six opponents on his way, the ball always close at his feet. Inside the area he hit the ball hard but somehow a Gladbach defender managed to deflect it and clear the ball for a corner. There was a great deal of applause for der Kaiser, and deservedly so.
But from then on, the home side took over control. Günter Netzer, perhaps no less talented that der Kaiser himself, took the initiative. He tried his luck with a thunderous shot that Sepp Maier couldn’t control; the ball fell to the feet of Horst Köppel but his shot was parried by Maier with lightning fast reflexes!
The atmosphere in the packed Bökelberg stadium was full of expectancy and anticipation. Sepp Maier did look a tad nervous with the raging spectators behind him, but he wasn’t the only Bayern player that appeared to be intimidated; the whole side looked nervous. Austrian full back Peter Pumm almost placed a back pass into his own goal! Three times did Sepp Maier let the ball drop down after crosses and Bayern were lucky that no Gladbach forward was around exploiting Maier’s lapses.
After 11 minutes Franz ‘Bulle’ Roth got booked after a bad foul on the dangerous Günter Netzer, who had dumbfounded him in great fashion. Up to that point Gladbach had exercised a tremendous powerplay on the Bayern goal; the siege was such that it seemed they were one goal down with ten minutes to go.
After this foul on Netzer, finally Beckenbauer and his defence got a chance for a breather. Beckenbauer used the pause to align his defence more effectively, something he didn’t get a chance to do in the first ten minutes, so crushing were Gladbach’s constant attacks.
In the 13th minute, Paul Breitner first fouled Herbert Laumen then Günter Netzer, trying to take the pace out of Gladbach’s game. But Gladbach still remained very dangerous in attack, although their immediate pressure ebbed away.
Hence, Bayern managed to release themselves from some of the pressure of the hosts between the 15th and the 30th minute by starting several dexterous counter attacks. Relying on counter attacks was in fact Bayern manager Udo Lattek’s original gameplan for this difficult game.
Soon enough though, there were piercing whistles from the Gladbach crowd after Franz Beckenbauer had brought down his teammate from the national side (and darling of the crowd), Berti Vogts. The energetic full back had to receive treatment on the sidelines. From now on all of Beckenbauer’s actions were accompanied by boos and whistles.
But Bayern were slowly gaining a semblance of control. Full-back Paul Breitner produced a great move in the 27th minute when he thrust deep into the Gladbach half but his shot just missed the goal going over the top.
Around that time Franz Roth started to limp. This was bad news for Bayern as Roth was intended to cover Günter Netzer, but it became obvious that the injured Roth was useless and thus had to leave the pitch. Into the bargain, Roth was also struggling with his nerves as he started to row with the referee! Looking for the game and Netzer would have been smarter.
But in the game it was about time that Gladbach’s stifling domination simply had to pay off and that moment came in the 36th minute. Netzer started one of his trademark runs through midfield and with his marker Roth getting treatment, he had the opportunity to shoot unmarked from 18 yards.
The ball left his right foot like a torpedo and smashed into the back of the Bayern net way above Sepp Maier: 1-0!
Netzer had now torn down the spell surrounding the Bayern goal! Gladbach players and fans celebrated enthusiastically, finally their efforts had paid off and in what brilliant fashion!
But almost immediately Bayern’s right winger Edgar Schneider nearly scored the equalizer following a freekick a minute later. His diagonal shot from the inside right position only just missed Kleff’s goal. After that scene Roth finally had to leave the pitch after he had tried for a while to keep going on. Roth had suffered a strain and in his place came a young Uli Hoeness, who himself had just been cured from a toe injury.
After Netzer’s goal the game had calmed down a bit but at the stroke of half-time Gladbach scored a second goal but it wasn’t given due to an off-side position.
The Bayern camp was of course aware that in order to achieve anything here at Mönchengladbach they would have to play with far more energy, resolve and determination. Shortly after the break Edgar Schneider wasted another fine opportunity, but the upper part of his body leaned back too much and thus instead of simply tapping the ball over the goalline he shovelled it over the top of the goal!
Then great luck to Bayern on the other side as Horst Köppel failed to exploit a misundestanding between Beckenbauer and Breitner. Ten minutes into the second half, the game having been more balanced than in the first half, Rainer Zobel brought down Jupp Heynckes only inches outside the penalty box.
Now transpired Günter Netzer’s great freekick show. Gently he laid the ball down on the ground, lifted it up again then laid it down again. It took him a while before he had placed the ball in the most optimal way, the crowd watching in joyous anticipation. Then finally Netzer executed the freekick, swerving the ball in a masterly way above the head of the Bayern defenders straight onto Maier’s goal. It was absolutely thrilling technique, but instead of falling into the net, the ball hit the crossbar! From there the ball bounced back, straight to Jupp Heynckes who headed it towards the Bayern goal, but incredibly, the ball yet again hit the crossbar! The third try came from the Dane Ulrik Le Fevre, who finally kicked the ball into the Bayern goal! 2-0! An amazing scene!
Everything now pointed towards a victory for the home side. With this score, Gladbach would increase their lead over Bayern to four points!
Only minutes later Bayern were lucky that a goal by Jupp Heynckes wasn’t given due to another off-side position: After a mistake by Beckenbauer, Heynckes had beat off Sepp Maier and shot the ball over the goalline among the thunderous roar of the crowd but Herbert Laumen stood off-side. If that goal had been allowed, a disastrous debacle would have loomed for Bayern. Then Le Fevre wasted a great, almost absolutely safe chance at scoring the third goal. The crowd couldn’t believe it but at the same time scenes like that further increased the great atmosphere inside the stadium.
Then came the 66th minute and Bayern showed the kind of spirit that would in a few years make them the best team in the world.
Paul Breitner, one of their brighter players on the day, entered the Gladbach box from the inside left position, then crossed the ball sharply towards the penalty box where Charly Mrosko was lurking who firmly hit the ball into Kleff’s goal: 2-1!
This goal visibly gave Bayern an upswing. Only one more goal and they would have accomplished the impossible, taking a point back to Munich from the feared Bökelberg.
Things didn’t look good for the hosts as ‘Man of the Match’ Günter Netzer, who had run completely out of power due to his forceful, energy-consuming play during the first hour, had to leave the pitch and in his place young Jürgen Wloka entered. Clearly a weakness for Borussia, who had, up to that point looked far better than their guests.
Bayern now did everything in their powers to score a second goal.
Gerd Müller had a neat chance 15 minutes before time but he didn’t act fast enough when the 2-2 was possible.
But Gladbach did not let up.
Their attacks had always been exercised with more drive and zest and Bayern had run out of energy to really stage an effective powerplay on the Gladbach goal.
After 83 minutes, the pacey Herbert Wimmer got behind the Bayern defense on the right wing, he swung a cross sharply before the Bayern goalmouth where Herbert Laumen struck: 3-1!
30,000 Gladbach supporters celebrated their side’s third goal effusively! Gladbach leading by two goals only mirrored their supremacy over the Bavarian guests in this clash. The only Bayern player able to keep up with Gladbach was Franz Beckenbauer, who presented himself in tremendous shape. But he alone was not enough to resist the Gladbach onslaught although Paul Breitner, Rainer Zobel, Charlie Mrosko, Johnny Hansen and later Uli Hoeness tried their best to support Beckenbauer’s efforts.
All in all, Gladbach had won this prestigious encounter deservedly, having been the more passionate side, showing arch rivals Bayern their limits. Gladbach was more creative, their play was full of ideas and invention and more agile in every aspect.
15 internationals had been on the pitch that evening (twelve Germans, two Danes and one Austrian), thus expectations had been high and the game met, even surpassed, all those expectations. While Günter Netzer was on the pitch, he reigned supreme, conducting the attacks and threading together Gladbach’s combinations. He also didn’t spare with shots, spinned corner balls and freekicks that posed great problems to Sepp Maier and the Bayern defense. Bayern’s main deficiencies had again been their ineffective wings. On the other side Gladbach had demonstrated how devastating effective wingplay could be, time and again baring Bayern’s defense. Gladbach’s best player had been Günter Netzer and after him Berti Vogts, Ludwig ‘Luggi’ Müller and Jupp Heynckes.
In the press conference after the game Bayern manager Udo Lattek stated: “Borussia’s cast, on average is better than ours. Their players are smarter and they have more experience. Gladbach has won deservedly due to their many great opportunities at scoring.”
And Hennes Weisweiler said: “It was a game loaded with fight and drama and a deserved victory. Just in time did we find our right form again. However Dietrich, Netzer and Heynckes were injured. Fortunately our youngsters Wloka and Bonhof proved that we can rely on them anytime.”
The manager of the German national team, Helmut Schön, was of course also inside the stadium and had to say the following afterwards: “A great game with spice and everything just like one wishes. To me Gladbach won deservedly. Despite some fouls it was an all-around fair game.”
Gerd Müller had had a pretty quiet game and he duly complained after the game: “Without wings one can’t win. I was standing there in the middle alone against two players and felt pretty forlorn getting no support from anywhere.”
A special mention must go to the Gladbach crowd who supported their side tremendously. The Bayern officials admitted their envy upon this home support, complaining that they would never get supported like that by their own fans at home.
Kleff – Vogts, Sieloff, L.Müller, Bleidick – Wimmer, Netzer (69. J.Wloka), Laumen – Köppel, Heynckes (79. Bonhof), Le Fevre
Maier – Hansen, Beckenbauer, Schwarzenbeck, Pumm – Zobel, Roth (39. U.Hoeness), Breitner – E.Schneider, G.Müller, Mrosko
1-0 Netzer 37.
2-0 Le Fevre 56.
2-1 Mrosko 66.
3-1 Laumen 83.
What happened next:
Günter Netzer, the son of a greengrocer, would go on to play for Borussia for two more years, and finish with the German Footballer of the Year accolade on both those years. In 1973 he switched to Real Madrid where he won two La Liga titles with them. Long regarded as one of the finest passers in the game, Netzer’s iconic playmaker status was still not good enough for him to be a fixture in the Germany team. He played just 37 times in ten years for the Nationalmannschaft.
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