The First All-German Final – 1980 UEFA Cup Final Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Eintracht Frankfurt

Bundesliga Rewind – 1979-80 UEFA Cup Final Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Eintracht Frankfurt

This Saturday, the eyes of the footballing world will all be sharply focused on Wembley Stadium in London as FC Bayern München take on Borussia Dortmund in the first ever all German final of the UEFA Champions League or, for that matter, its predecessor, the European Champions Cup.  This moment is not, however, the first time that two German sides have contested for the title in a major European club competition. 33 years ago, Borussia Mönchengladbach met Eintracht Frankfurt in the final of the UEFA Cup.  On that occasion, it was not only the first time two clubs from Germany had ever met in a final, but was also the first (and only) time that the semi finals were contested between 4 teams from the same country.

The Roads to the Final

Eintracht Frankfurt qualified for the tournament by finishing 5th in the Bundesliga the previous season, which was good enough to grab the final UEFA Cup qualifying spot for Germany.  In the first round, they managed a narrow 2-1 victory over Aberdeen before erasing a two goal first leg deficit by defeating Dinamo Bucarest 3-2 after extra time.  They then got past Feyenoord 4-1 in the third round before knocking out Czechoslovakia’s Zbrojovka Brno in a goal-filled 6-4 quarter final.  In the semi final, Eintracht met fellow German club FC Bayern.  The first leg in Bavaria saw the hosts win 2-0 putting Bayern in the driver’s seat, but an incredible 5-1 victory in the return leg – in Frankfurt – saw Die Adler book their ticket to the final.

For Borussia Mönchengladbach, a poor 10th place finish the season prior would have in any other year ruled them out of any European venture, only they had won the 1978-79 UEFA Cup and qualified automatically for the following year’s tournament.  The first round saw ‘Gladbach cruise 4-1 past Viking F.K. of Norway before a thrilling 4-3 victory over Inter Milan, the second leg having gone to extra time.  They then got past Universitatea Craiova 2-1 before crushing St. Etienne 6-1 in the quarter finals.  Borussia Mönchengladbach then met familiar foes Stuttgart in the semi finals where after they’d lost the first leg away 2-1, they stormed back to win the return match 2-0 setting up the all German final… well all West German final to be technically correct.

A few interesting tidbits to think about: both clubs won their second round matchups after extra time.  Also, both sides defeated a Romanian opponent en route to the final.  They both scored 6 goals in their respective quarter final matchups, and finally, they both won their semi final ties after being defeated away in the first leg.  Any of these tidbits would make for very good questions for your football trivia night at the local pub.

First Leg – A 5 Goal Thriller at the Bökelbergstadion

Lineups and Formations

The home side, led by a then 34 year old manager Jupp Heynckes (who will be managing his final match in the aforementioned final this Saturday), lined up in a 4-3-3 formation.  In goal was Wolfgang Kneib, and in front of him in the 4 man defence were centre backs Winifried Schäfer and Wilfried Hannes, who were in turn flanked by fullbacks Frank Schäffer and Norbert Ringels.  The three man midfield comprised of the captain Christian Kulik (a Dane), Carsten Nielsen, and a 19 year old Lothar Matthäus who had just completed his first season as a professional.  In attack were wingers Ewald Lienen, EURO 1980 winner Karl Del’Haye and centre forward Harald Nickel.

Friedel Rausch’s Frankfurt side lined up in a more traditional 4-4-2 formation, with Jürgen Pähl in goal, full-backs Willi Neuberger and Horst Ehrmantraut, and Austrian legend Bruno Pezzey partnering Karl-Heinz Körbel in central defence; Körbel holds the Bundesliga record for most appearances with 602 (all for Frankfurt) and is now the director of the Eintracht Frankfurt youth academy.  The four-man midfield consisted of Werner Lorant and 1974 World Cup winner Bernd Hölzenbein playing centrally, while Ronald Borchers and Bernd Nickel played out on the flanks.  Up front was the pairing of Harald Karger and the South Korean Cha Bum-Kun, who is widely considered to be one of the best footballers to come out of Asia; he’s also the father of former Fortuna Düsseldorf defender Cha Du-Ri.

The Match

It was Eintracht Frankfurt who kicked off and they would also have the first very good chance of the match.  A long range effort from Bernd Nickel smashed off of the bar and Cha’s headed effort on the rebound was straight at goalkeeper Kneib.  After surviving that early scare, Borussia Mönchengladbach started to take over with patient build-ups and effective use of the flanks, especially with Del’Haye and Schäffer.  But as the match wore on, the young Matthäus began to make his presence felt, forcing the goalkeeper Pähl into making several saves.

However, it was Frankfurt who would make the breakthrough against the run of play in the 37th minute.  Bernd Nickel sent in a left footed out swinging corner that was met by the head of Harald Karger.  The big forward got just in front of the goalkeeper’s punch to nod the ball into the net.  Moments later, it was nearly a second for Frankfurt as Erhmantraut’s cross was deflected onto his own crossbar by Norbert Ringels before Schäfer would head the ball back into the waiting arms of his goalkeeper Kneib.  A let off for ‘Gladbach.

However, the hosts were determined to go to the dressing room on level terms.  Late in the first half, Christian Kulik was brought down in the penalty area, but any claims for a foul were quickly waved away by the referee.  A few minutes later, the home side found the equaliser.  Matthäus’ shot was parried away well by Pähl, but it left the Eintracht keeper slightly out of position.  The ball fell to Kulik outside the area and he smashed a long range effort into the net, knotting the match at 1 with the last kick of the opening half.

The second half started off very lively.  The opening 15 minutes were frenetic, with both sides trading chances and both goalkeepers keeping themselves very busy, but holding firm, each making sure they didn’t let their side go a goal down.

Once again however, it was the visitors that broke the deadlock in the 71st minute.  Ronald Borchers took the ball out wide on the right flank and whipped in a curling cross that eluded several ‘Gladbach defenders.  Eintracht captain Hölzenbein was the quickest to react and his diving header went in off the outstretched hands of Kneib. 2-1 with 20 minutes remaining and Frankfurt had a 2nd away goal.

The lead was short lived and it was the youngster Matthäus who came through for the home side.  Ewald Lienen’s low cross from the left side found defender Hannes, who had come forward to join the attack.  His effort on goal was blocked, but the ball found its way back to Lienen, who sent in another low cross that was met by the onrushing Matthäus, who hit a left footed shot into the far corner past Pähl. It was now 2-2 and the hosts had the momentum leading into the closing stages of the match.

And the hosts would not be denied their winner.

Two minutes from full time, Schäfer played a long lobbed pass up the right channel that found Lienen.  The winger beat his marker and played a cross into the near post where Kulik grabbed his second goal with a superb diving header.  The hosts would actually need to survive a late scare as Frankfurt frantically searched for a late equaliser, but Neuberger’s spectacular long range effort went just over the bar.  Shortly after the referee blew for full time and it was all to play for in the 2nd leg.

Second Leg – Die Adler Saved by a Super Sub

Lineups and Formations

A quick note.  Resources and highlights were incredibly scarce for this match, so these descriptions are significant approximations.

The home side played the same 4-4-2 formation and made only one change from the squad that played two weeks prior.  Manager Rausch decided to insert forward Norbert Nachweih as a direct swap for Harald Karger.

Jupp Heynckes changed his formation from the 1st leg, also going with a more traditional 4-4-2.  He made two changes to his squad, deciding to employ Jürgen Fleer in the midfield instead of the winger Karl Del’Haye, while Ralf Bödeker directly replaced fullback Frank Schäffer.

The Match

As was previously noted, details of this match are rather hard to come by.  What is known is that the match stayed level well into the second half, which boded rather well for the visitors from Mönchengladbach in their efforts to repeat as UEFA Cup champions.  However, ten minutes from time, the home side sent the packed crowd at Waldstadion into jubilation.

After some confusion in the Mönchengladbach penalty area, Fred Schaub, who had only been on for 4 minutes as a substitute for the striker Nachweih, pounced on a loose ball and poked it past Kneib to put the hosts ahead 1-0 on the night.  Frankfurt only needed to hold out for the final few minutes to win the match on the back of the 2 away goals scored in the first leg, successfully doing so and ended up lifting the trophy on home soil.

Legacies – The Greatest Triumph and the End of an Era

For Eintracht Frankfurt, winning the 1979-80 UEFA Cup represents probably the biggest victory in the club’s long history.  They had made a final in another European competition 20 years earlier where they were defeated in the European Champions Cup by Real Madrid 7-3.  This match is widely considered to be one of the greatest European club matches of all time.

Conversely for Borussia Mönchengladbach, the loss to Frankfurt in the final represented the end of the most successful era in the club’s history.  The 1970s were a time where Die Fohlen were arguably the best side in Germany, having won 5 Bundesliga titles over the decade.  The club’s success wasn’t only confined to the domestic league though, as ‘Gladbach were twice UEFA Cup winners (74-75 and 78-78) and twice runners up (72-73 and 79-80).  They also made the 1976-1977 European Champions Cup final, where they lost 3-1 to rising European power Liverpool FC in Rome.

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Born in Toronto, Adrian is a first generation Canadian by way of Bavaria and the Black Forest. After some intense football soul searching he's now a fully fledged member of the Church of Streich. Follow @AdrianSertl

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