In light of this weekend’s encounter between Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayern München, Wolfgang Steiner continues the Bundesliga Rewind series by taking a look at one of Frankfurt most illustrious performances way back on Match Day 15 of the 1975-76 season. That performance is still regarded to this day as arguably the greatest in Frankfurt’s Bundesliga history. Their opponent on that day were none other than Bayern München
Eintracht Frankfurt 6 : 0 Bayern München
Place: Frankfurt, Waldstadion
Time: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
Date: 22 November 1975
Referee: Eschweiler (Bonn)
In mid-November 1975, Frankfurt found themselves in tenth position in the Bundesliga, having only managed to win a single game at stage of the season. This was clearly a disappointment for the side that had won the German Cup in 1974 and 1975 and that featured such fine players as Bernd Nickel, Bernd Hölzenbein, Willi Neuberger, Karl-Heinz ‘Charlie’ Körbel, Rüdiger Wenzel, Peter Reichel and most famous of all, Jürgen Grabowski, the 1974 World Cup winner.
Grabowski still rates as the finest football player ever to play for Eintracht. He started out as an orthodox winger and went on to develop into a midfield playmaker in the style of Overath and Netzer by the early-1970s. In fact, at the peak of his career (which were the mid-1970s, after he had quit the German national team), Jürgen Grabowski was even compared to the legendary Alfredo Di Stéfano.
Always having been a side renowned for technical qualities coupled with a typical lack of grittiness, Eintracht played one of the most sophisticated brands of football of the 1970s. Despite that they never managed to overcome powerhouses Bayern, Mönchengladbach, Hamburg or Köln in the long run. They won two German Cups and the UEFA Cup during Grabowski’s reign with the club, never managed to finish above the third position in the league itself. Perhaps Eintracht’s greatest performance of the 1970s was this league game however against the then-ruling champions of Europe, Bayern München.
Bayern, similar to Eintracht, had not been in good form in the weeks leading up to this game. They had been particularly poor in away games and had proved quite harmless to their respective hosts. A lot of Bayern’s problems were caused by the absence of their two primary goalgetters, Gerd Müller and Uli Hoeness. Both were out with long-term injuries at that point. It would take a Herculean effort by Eintracht to get themselves out of trouble while at the same time competing against a then fourth-placed Bayern.
Eintracht’s incredible renaissance was due to manager Dietrich Weise and the intense debate he had with his players about what went wrong in the previous matches. The reasons for Eintracht’s lack of success were as follows: 1. Weak nerves, 2. Lack of battlesome attitude, and 3. Lack of discipline. These points were indentified as main cause and proper counter measures were taken in a combined effort between the training staff and players. It took the team four weeks to rid themselves of their weak spots and the subsequent results were stunning: Spanish Cup winners Atletico Madrid were eliminated in the Cup Winners’ Cup (2-1 and 1-0), VfL Bochum was beaten 6-0 in the league and Cologne were drawn 3-3 on the road. Then came this massive encounter with Bayern that nearly propelled Eintracht straight into the stratosphere. It was the culmination of a team reaching its’ lowest points and having to look inside themselves to truly get out and reach their potential. The rend result became folklore in Eintracht’s football history.
Bayern’s humiliation began after only eight minutes. Rüdiger Wenzel stood totally unmarked at the edge of the goalmouth which allowed him to head a corner by Bernd Nickel into the Bayern goal: 1-0! It soon became obvious that Josef Weiss was no match for the player he was supposed to mark, Jürgen Grabowski as the Frankfurt playmaker’s influence on the game grew with every minute. Only Bayern manager Dettmar Cramer knew why he picked amateur Weiss as Grabowski’s shdow when he had more experienced players available in Franz Roth or Jupp Kapellmann.
After 17 minutes, Eintracht were awarded an indirect freekick at the edge of the Bayern box. Grabowski tipped the ball to Bernd ‘Doktor Hammer’ Nickel, who unleashed a trademark heavy left-footed hammer of a shot that rocketed directly into the Bayern goal. Sepp Maier was but a frozen statue: 2-0! Bayern were not yet beat though and tried to push forward but their play that day was characterized by a mixture of bad luck and imprecise passes. Without Müller, Hoeness and Zobel up front, the team just couldn’t get past the Eintracht defense.
On the other side of the pitch however, everything Eintracht attempted worked in their favor. The best example was Eintracht’s third goal after 28 minutes. After a short pass by Bernd Nickel from the left wing, Jürgen Grabowski received the ball outside the Bayern penalty box and what followed was an outrageous moment of individual brilliance. Gabrowski proceeded to curve a shot from a ridiculous angle and with the whole stadium bating its breath, the ball found its way into the right corner of the Bayern goal: 3-0! A remarkable goal that left Sepp Maier and his defense speechless and the rest of the stadium applauding. It was a goal that one would expect a player like Eusebio to score.
That goal broke Bayern’s neck, as they were now were trailing by three goals without having proper forwards up front themselves while everything Eintracht attempted continued to go their way. Grabowski was all over the pitch, inspiring his teammates with his accurate passes and creative ideas. Five minutes before the half-time break, Grabowski set up Bernd Hölzenbein, who stood at the middle of the goalmouth, turning around his marker and scoring with a Gerd-Müller-like shot: 4-0!
60 seconds before the half-time whistle, Bayern conceded their fifth of the game after sweeper Willi Neuberger found space and rushed forward. A 1-2 pass with Nickel set him up unmarked and undeterred by any Bayern player to slot home an impressive fifth goal: 5-0! The most remarkable first half in Eintracht’s and Bayern’s Bundesliga history was complete.
First half highlights:
After the half-time break, Dettmar Cramer adjusted his tactics and ordered another amateur, Jürgen Marek, to man mark Grabowski. An inexplicable decision considering that Jupp Kapellmann in previous encounters with Eintracht had always held his own against the Eintracht’s playmaker. In fact, Kapellmann wanted to take over from Marek marking Grabowski early in the second half, as Marek appeared completely helpless, but Cramer ordered Kapellmann to stay away from Grabowski. A very strange decision by Cramer.
Grabowski continued to run rampant in the second half, but luckily for Bayern, everything that succeeded in the first half didn’t work out as well for Eintracht in the second. On the contrary, with Bayern completely demoralized and ready to be finished off, Eintracht only managed to score one additional goal, wasting a number of great goal scoring opportunities in the process. That sixth and final goal came after Bernd Nickel had hit a corner from the left side. The ball came very close to the Bayern goal and Sepp Maier could have easily parried it but instead – in what can be considered a moment of madness – decided to throw the ball inside his own goal! 6-0! A truly diabolic mistake by Germany’s footballer of the year 1975.
During the first 20 minutes of the second half, Eintracht could have easily doubled the score as they continued to play some of the best football the Bundesliga had seen but they just couldn’t convert the many opportunities they created.It could have become an even more historic bashing had Frankfurt been a bit more fortunate.
Second half highlights:
Following the disastrous performance of his teammates, Franz Beckenbauer appeared as if he was a trustee in bankruptcy, showing clear displeasure with his Bavarian compatriots. With time passing, the still ingenious Beckenbauer began to show signs of slowing down and became slightly more removed from the team’s performances. Clearly this also signaled the first cracks in the imminent fall of the Bayern empire and the dominant run they had in that decade . The sole redeeming factor for Bayern in this match were the few dangerous moments Rummenigge provided in the Eintracht box.
Wienhold – Reichel, Neuberger, Körbel, H.Müller – Weidle, Grabowski, Beverungen – Hölzenbein, Wenzel, B.Nickel
Maier – Horsmann, Beckenbauer, Schwarzenbeck, Dürnberger – Marek, Roth, J.Weiss (46. Wunder), Torstensson (61. Zobel) – Kapellmann, K.H.Rummenigge
1-0 Wenzel 8.
2-0 Nickel 17.
3-0 Grabowski 28.
4-0 Hölzenbein 40.
5-0 Neuberger 45.
6-0 Nickel 61.
What came next?
Frankfurt went on to finish a disappointing 9th at the end of the season but the momentum gained in this game saw Frankfurt win 8 of their following 12 matches in the league as well as reach the semi finals of the UEFA Cup Winner’s Cup. Their brand of attacking football also flourished as they finished with the league’s best attack by quite a margin, surpassing even the champions Gladbach. Eintracht continued to ride the wave of their dynamic style of play and finished 4th the following season, managing to score even more goals (86), another league high total. It would remain their best finish for the next 12 years.
Bayern eventually turned around their fortunes to finish in 3rd but the highlight of their season came with their successful defense of the European Cup, equalling the famed Ajax with their third consecutive win. No side has since accomplished this feat and it stands to this day as Bayern’s greatest achievement as a club. It would take Bayern another four seasons to win the league.
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