When Grêmio Beat Those Germans

The early 1980s were a fun time for football: Merseyside was ruling English soccer, the Basque country was winning La Liga, and the top league in the world was Serie A. Also there were great German clubs, aided by players coming from the First Division in England. Brazilian clubs were also turning out great players by the dozen, like they’ve always done.

What a time to be a football fan.

In 1983, the dominate club in Germany was Hamburger SV, who had just come off the most important and successful part of their history.

For a decade between the mid-1970s and 1980s, they won the league three times, and finished runners up four separate times. They also won the Europe Cup (The Old Champions League) in 1982-83, after being runners up to a very good Nottingham Forest side (on their second straight EC) in 1979-80. They were also runners up to a financially troubled IFK Goteborg in the 1981 UEFA Cup Final (the old Europa Cup).

At this time, Franz Beckenbauer was in the side. Der Kaiser was between his stints with the New York Cosmos of the defunct North American Soccer League. Though by 1983, he was finishing out his career in New York City. However, the star of the time was future manager Felix Magath.

Felix Magath HSV Spieler
Recognize this now ubiquitous coach? It’s Mr. Felix Magath.

Grêmio on the other hand were a tad bit different, in some ways. They had been the white, German-only club in Brazil, hence the name.

The greatest era in their club’s history is the early 1980s, they won their first Brazilian league in 1981, and the Copa Libertadores in 1983, which landed them in the International Cup. They were paced by Brazilian National Team winger Renato, who scored 74 goals in 65 matches in his career with Grêmio.

On December 11, 1983, Grêmio and Hamburger SV met in the National Stadium in Tokyo, and the match was played before 62,000 people.

Renato got the ball rolling in the match for Grêmio when he put a ball past Uli Stein in the 37 minute, he’d also put one past him to win the match in the 93rd minute. Midfielder Michael Schroder got the game going in the 85th minute for HSV, with a strike past Mazarópi, who was one of the stars of the match along with Uruguayan defender Hugo De Leon. The match ended 2-1 after extra time.

After the match, Grêmio went on to play in Los Angeles CA, against America of the Mexican League to win the Los Angeles Cup. Then to finish out the 90’s, in 1989 they beat Sporting Recife in the two legged final of the Copa de Brasil in 2-1 ironically.

Toward the end of the century, they’d be relegated and then come back up to win their second Copa de Brasil against Ceara in 1994, their third in 1997 against Flamengo, and their second Copa Libertadoras over Atletico Nacional of Colombia 3-1 in 1995.

HSV would go into a period of steady decline, only winning the DFB Pokal in 1986-7. Their next period of success would be in the start of the next century. They’d win the German League Cup in 2003, and two Intertolo Cups in 2005 and 2007. Felix Magath would return as manager in October 1995, but leave at the end of the 1997 season.

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Stephen Brandt, lives in Buffalo New York, and is an E Licensed Soccer Coach. Stephen has been writing on soccer since the start of the century, his work has been featured on Sunderland AFC's website, Liverpool's website, and SBnation. Stephen currently is a writer for World Soccer Talk. He's also been hosting Yellow Card Podcast on Blogtalk on Tuesdays 7-8 pm EST. His podcast has been listed as one of the top 50 podcasts in the country by MLSoccer.com. Follow @yellowcardSCB