Classic EURO Performances – West Germany vs. Netherlands – 1980 – “Oranje, freshly squeezed”

West Germany vs. Netherlands – June 14th, 1980 – Group Stage – 1980 EUROs

The Nationalmannschaft had won their first European title in 1972, and had made the final four years later only to lose on penalties to Czechoslovakia – courtesy of an Uli Hoeneß miss and that famous cheeky chip from Antonín Panenka. Now under Nationaltrainer Jupp Derwall who had taken over from Helmut Schön in 1978, the 1980 campaign in Italy would see them attempt to wrest back their crown.

Derwall’s side had qualified unbeaten, picking up ten points out of twelve against Turkey, Wales and Malta; they had scored seventeen goals and conceded just one, and coming into the tournament they were firmly among the favourites. They found themselves drawn in an interesting group: the opening fixture against Czechoslovakia offered them the opportunity to gain immediate revenge on their 1976 conquerors and the final match would pit them against tournament debutants Greece, but their second opponent would be the big draw: their old rivals, the Netherlands.

With the Germans exorcising some of the ghosts of 1976 with a hard-earned 1-0 win over the Czechs in Rome and the Dutch overcoming a defensive Greek side by the same scoreline, everything would be set up perfectly for the encounter in Napoli. Both sides knew that a victory would leave them needing only a point to secure a place in the final showpiece, and it was the perfect platform for what would prove to be the most exciting game in what had so far been a fairly ordinary tournament.

Having started with a rather defensive 4-4-2 against the Czechs, Derwall plumped for a far more attacking 4-3-3 against the Oranje. The versatile Uli Stielike was shifted back into the four-man defence in place of Bernhard Cullmann, while defender Bernd Förster gave way to the mercurial young midfield playmaker Bernd Schuster who teamed up alongside the talented Hansi Müller and the solid Hans-Peter Briegel. Up front, the burly Hamburger SV forward Horst Hrubesch joined Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Klaus Allofs in what would be a formidable three-pronged attack.

While all of the other matches not involving the hosts had seen paltry crowds with grounds being half empty, this match-up between the 1974 World Cup finalists was always going to be one of the more popular games as 26,546 people made their way to the rather grim-looking Stadio San Paolo. On what was a dry and warm afternoon in southern Italy French referee Robert Wurtz got things under way, with the Mannschaft in their familiar Schwarz und Weiß and the Oranje in their, erm, Oranje.

Jupp Derwall’s side immediately looked to take the early initiative, and it took only two minutes for Bernd Schuster to show what the team had been missing in the opening game with some great skill on the ball and a shot from distance that just flew over the Dutch crossbar.

Rummenigge dodging a challenge from Krol

The man in the thick of the early action however was Horst Hrubesch, who was able to get a good sight of goal on four occasions in a fifteen minute spell of dominance by the Mannschaft. With five minutes on the clock the big Hamburg striker was just unable to meet a teasing right-wing cross from Manni Kaltz, on ten minutes from another Kaltz cross he sent the ball wide when he should perhaps have hit the target, two minutes after that he forced Dutch ‘keeper Piet Schrijvers into a good smothering save at the edge of the six-yard box, and on the quarter of an hour mark he was unable to connect with the ball after some great skill down the right flank by the fleet-footed Schuster.

As well as creating chances the Germans were keeping the ball brilliantly, and the Dutch were struggling to even get a look in. Even when the men in orange did manage to get hold of the ball, they would find themselves being closed down quickly someone in a white shirt.

Having completely dominated the game for the opening twenty minutes Germany finally – and deservedly – took the lead. After skipper Bernard Dietz had picked the ball up on the left just inside the Dutch half he charged inside towards the box, finding Schuster who skillfully turned his marker and unleashed a right-footed thunderbolt that crashed against the inside of the right post with Dutch ‘keeper Piet Schrijvers beaten. The ball fell to another rising young star in Fortuna Düsseldorf’s twenty-three year old Klaus Allofs, who had little more to do than stroke the ball calmly into the empty net.

Allofs’ opening goal appeared to jolt the hitherto lazy-looking Dutch team into life, and from out of nowhere they launched their first concerted attack on the German goal with René van der Kerkhof forcing a fine save from Schumacher who turned the ball neatly around his right-hand post. This one Dutch chance was however something of a blip, as Jupp Derwall’s side quickly reasserted their dominance. Kaltz continued to be a constant source of danger down the right, Dietz was bossing the left side of the field, and the fast-moving Schuster seemed to be everywhere.

The chances continued to come: Dietz sent a lovely through ball for Karl-Heinz Rummenigge who might well have won a penalty when he appeared to be bundled over in the box, and Rummenigge then sent in a well-placed corner from the left which was headed on target by Hrubesch and scrambled off the line by Schrijvers.

When the half-time whistle blew Jupp Derwall’s side had completely dominated proceedings, with the Dutch unable to cause any trouble in the German box. In fact the closest the men in orange actually came to threatening Toni Schumacher was when Johnny Rep and Huub Stevens suddenly decided to get involved in a heated exchange of words with the German ‘keeper in the last few minutes before the break.

The Dutch began the second half far more brightly than they had ended the first, with René van der Kerkhof warming Schumacher’s gloves with a firm shot from the edge of the box before embarking on an excellent run down the left flank that culminated in his falling under Uli Stielike’s challenge at the edge of the box. The French referee rather bizarrely awarded the Oranje a free-kick inside the German box, but they were unable to make the early pressure count. It had been René van der Kerkhof who had been the man of the opening ten minutes that had seen the Dutch have their best spell of the match, and speedy left winger continued to attract attention as Schuster was booked for a clumsy challenge.

Having withstood the early pressure from the opposition the Mannschaft crafted their first opening of the second half with just over fifty-five minutes on the clock, as Schuster’s clipped cross into the box almost found the head of Horst Hrubesch. This signalled yet another change in momentum, as just moments later the Germans swept up the length of the field at pace with Rummenigge unable to find Hansi Müller with his cutback after a fine run down the left flank.

The pace and movement of the German side had provided a constant worry for the Dutch defence for most of the match, and with an hour gone Schuster robbed his opponent of the ball before turning and charging back into the opposition half. The blond playmaker found Müller out to his right with a perfectly-timed ball, and without breaking stride the VfB Stuttgart man made his way into the Dutch penalty area and rolled the ball back with the outside of his left foot. There to meet it was Allofs, who cracked a low left-foot shot that skidded past the diving Schrijvers and in off the post to score his and Germany’s second.

Five minutes after his side had extended their lead Derwall sent on Felix Magath for Müller, and the Hamburger SV midfielder was almost immediately into the action as he embarked on a bustling run that almost found Rummenigge in space down the right. With what was a comfortable two-goal lead one might have expected the Mannschaft to shut up shop, but they continued to press forward and harass the Dutch defence.

Allofs celebrating his third goal of the match, with creator Schuster in the foreground.

Moments after Rummenigge had put his shot wide Manny Kaltz sent in a smart lob into the box for Briegel who was just about beaten to the punch by Schrijvers, but with the Dutch unable to get the ball ouf of their own penalty area it was seized upon by the almost ubiquitous Schuster. Charging at pace down the right towards the byline, the twenty year-old 1. FC Köln starlet skinned and rounded his marker before playing an almost impossibly tight reverse pass to Allofs who gratefully dinked the ball home with his right foot to complete a superb hat-trick. At 3-0, the game looked to be over.

With seventeen minutes left and the Mannschaft seemingly home and dry skipper Bernard Dietz was replaced by the nineteen year-old Borussia Mönchengladbach prodigy Lothar Matthäus, who within minutes of coming onto the pitch was testing the increasingly nervous Schrijvers with a well-struck shot from some twenty yards. It would be an interesting introduction to international football for the teenager: less than five minutes after his attempt on goal, he found himself at the other end of the field making a clumsily desperate lunge at Dutch wingback Bennie Wijnstekers – who threw himself into the box with a spectacularly theatrical flourish.

The foul – if indeed there had been a foul – had clearly taken place outside the area, but the French official waved away the German protests. It was at least the third time that a Dutch player had flung himself into the penalty area, and on this occasion the tactic succeeded in hoodwinking Monsieur Wurtz who immediately pointed to the spot. It appeared that there could be no game between Germany and the Netherlands without there being some sort of controversy, usually in the form of a suspect Dutch spot-kick. Johnny Rep’s well-placed shot just about beat Toni Schumacher who dived the right way, and the Dutch were on the scoresheet.

With five minutes remaining Willy van de Kerkhof blasted a twenty-yard piledriver past the unsighted Schumacher to pull another goal back, but Derwall’s side managed to hold firm for the remainder of the match and with it place one foot firmly in the final. At 3-2 the result had been highly flattering to the Dutch, who had been both outthought and outplayed by a positive German side that could very easily have scored more than their three goals.

With two wins from their opening two games, the Mannschaft would only need a point from their last group phase game against outsiders Greece to secure their place in their third successive European Championship final. This they duly achieved, before two well-taken Horst Hrubesch goals would secure a 2-1 win in the final against Belgium in Rome.

The tournament had seen little in the way of truly exciting football, but the Germans’ win against the Dutch would be the one that would stand out above the rest.

Germany: Schumacher – Kaltz, Stielike, Kh. Förster, Dietz (c) (73. Matthäus) – B. Schuster, Briegel, Ha. Müller (65. Magath) – Kh. Rummenigge, Hrubesch, K. Allofs

Netherlands: Schrijvers – Wijnstekers, Krol, van de Korput, Hovenkamp (46. Nanninga) – W. van de Kerkhof, Haan, Stevens – Rep, Kist (69. Thijssen), R. van de Kerkhof

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London-based but with his heart firmly in Fröttmaning, Rick Joshua's love of German football goes back more than thirty years and has witnessed everything from the pain of Spain '82 and the glory of Italia '90 to the sheer desolation of Euro 2000. This has all been encapsulated in the encyclopaedic Schwarz und Weiß website and blog, which at some three hundred or so pages is still not complete. Should you wish to disturb him, you can get in touch with Rick on Twitter @fussballchef. This carries a double meaning, as he can prepare a mean Obazda too.

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