Wednesday 1 July 2020

Seven of the Best... Matches at Munich's Olympiastadion

Since Munich's two main football clubs FC Bayern and 1860 left to play at the new Allianz Arena in 2005 there has been, a Women's Champions League final in 2012 aside, very little footballing action at the city's Olympiastadion. This could soon be about to change, however, with reports that local side Türkgücü München might well be playing matches at the stadium next season. Türkgücü currently sit top of Regionalliga Bayern and if their promotion from the league, suspended due to COVID-19, is ratified then they will be playing 3.LIga football next season. The club's home ground, however, does not meet 3.LIga standards and if the club does go up they will need to find an alternative venue with the Olympiadstadion currently looking a very likely solution to their problems.
Home to Munich's two main clubs for over 30 years, the Olympiastadion opened in 1972 having been built for the 1972 Summer Olympics held in the city. This famous stadium has, however, hosted many other major events since, particularly in the world of football. The list includes the 1974 World Cup final, several European Cup and Champions League finals, and also the final of the European Championships in 1988. With the stadium's two former tenants having also played 100s of games at the stadium, the Olympiastadion has been host to some fascinating matches over the years - here are seven of the best.

West Germany 2-1 Netherlands, FIFA World Cup Final, 7 July 1974 

When the Olympiastadion hosted the final of the 10th FIFA World Cup in 1974, 77,833 thousand spectators were in attendance to see what they thought would be a straightforward victory for the Netherlands. After all, a Dutch side that included star of the tournament Johan Cryuff had set the planet alight playing what was known throughout the world as 'Totaal Voetbal' an exhilarating brand of passing football with interchangeable positions. 

The Dutch were massive favourites to win their first ever World Cup but for opponents Germany, however, being rank outsiders was nothing new. 20 years earlier in 1954 they had also been given no chance at all but lifted the World Cup trophy after a final in which they beat a much fancied Hungary side that included the legendary Ferenc Puskás - a team they had lost 8-3 to earlier in the tournament it must be pointed out. That 1954 victory was referred to as the 'miracle of Bern', could there now be a miracle in Munich? Could the West German team, one that had suffered an embarrassing loss to neighbours East Germany earlier in the tournament, upset the odds and once again claim the unlikeliest of victories?

A few days before the final, a German tabloid newspaper claimed that the night before their previous match the Dutch stars had been partying in their hotel swimming pool with naked girls. Baring this in mind one can assume that as the final approached maybe some of the Dutch players were seemingly distracted by angry wives and girlfriends unhappy at these revelations. Who knows what effect this would have on the group but, regardless, almost everyone still had the Dutch down as clear favourites and when they took the lead after just two minutes the eventual outcome was never in doubt, surely? Germany's Uli Hoeneß brought down Cryuff in the box, the Dutch were awarded a penalty without the Germans having even touched the ball yet, and Johan Neeskens scored from the spot. 1-0. 

For the next twenty minutes or so the Dutch completely dominated the match with their possession football, at times toying with the opposition for whom facing up to these eleven Dutchmen for the rest of the game looked a very daunting prospect. If those watching thought the game was going to be all a one sided affair, however, then they were wrong as 23 minutes after the Dutch scored the Germans managed to draw level. Bernd Hölzenbein was fouled and another penalty was awarded. Out of almost nothing the Germans had a chance to get back in the game. Many accused Hölzenbein of diving but nonetheless the penalty was given by English referee Jack Taylor and Paul Breitner converted from the spot to level the scores. For many in the Netherlands, the disputed penalty is remembered for Dutch TV commentator Herman Kuiphof uttering a now infamous line “Zijn we er toch nog ingetuind,” which translates as “They’ve tricked us again”.

The Germans had looked the better side after the second penalty but surely the Dutch would win the match in the second-half? Shockingly, though, they would have to do it from a losing position as two minutes before half-time they found themselves 2-1 down when Gerd Müller slotted home for the Germans - a parting gift from an all-time great who was to retire from international football after the final. Nonetheless the Dutch were still sure they would, in the end, come out on top - everyone was! 

The Dutch had come out all guns blazing for the second period and dominated most of the play but in the words of Dutch defender Ruud Krol "the ball didn’t want to go in". Chance after chance after chance but no goal! Try as they might they could not find an equaliser and the Germans held out for an improbable victory. It was a result no one had expected but West Germany had for a second time won the World Cup - cue despair across the Netherlands and street parties all over Germany. 

Four years later, this time without star man Cruyff, the Dutch would lose another World Cup final by losing to tournament hosts Argentina. Germany have twice won the World Cup since whilst the Dutch are still looking for that first elusive win having in 2010 lost for the third time in a final.

FC Bayern München 4-1 Real Madrid CF, Champions League Second Group Phase, 8 March 2000 

For a short few years, during which a new millennium dawned, the Champions League included a second group stage where now they have the last 16 knockout round. During the 1999-2000 second group stage, we saw two cracking matches between FC Bayern München and Real Madrid CF with FC Bayern coming out on top on both occasions. After a 4-2 victory away at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid, FC Bayern faced their Spanish rivals on home turf at the Olympiastadion week later. 

Mehmet Scholl slotted home to put the hosts ahead after just 4 minutes although the goal should have probably ruled offside. 1-0 became 2-0 on 30 minutes when Fernando Hierro misjudged a clearance by 'keeper Oliver Kahn and Giovane Elber beautifully controlled the ball before lifting it over Iker Casillas in the Real Madrid goal.

The hosts were comfortably ahead at the break but Iván Helguera fired the visitors back into the game on fifty minutes and the match became a rather tense affair. Bayern, however, did not intend to drop points and Alexander Zickler smashed them back into a two goal lead after some fantastic passing football in the build-up. Zickler fired home another on 90 minutes to complete the route and the hosts ran out 4-1 winners.

Real Madrid would have the last laugh, however, as, after managing to finish second in the group, they went on to beat Bayern 3-2 on aggregate in the semi-finals before defeating Valencia CF 3-0 in the final at the Stade de France.

Germany 1-5 England, FIFA World Cup Qualifier, 1 September 2001

"Oh, this is getting better and better and better" exclaimed the BBC's John Motson commentating to the nation. Michael Owen had just completed his hat-trick and England were rampant. When Germany had won what was the final ever match at the old Wembley Stadium before it was demolished and rebuilt, England manager Kevin Keegan resigned. But now under new manager Sven-Göran Eriksson, England were beating their rivals, not the other way round, and boy were they doing it in style.

Things had not started well for England in this World Cup qualifier at the Olympiastadion, however, as the hosts took the lead after just under six minutes. Germany broke forward which saw Michael Ballack find Oliver Neuville who headed the ball down and across to Carsten Jancker who prodded the ball home. Germany's lead did not last very long, though, as England were level six minutes later through Michael Owen. Oliver Khan came out but was all over the place, he missed the ball and Nicky Barmby headed down for Owen to slot home. After the equaliser, it was end to end stuff but the only other goal in the first-half came deep into stoppage time when England took the lead. A David Beckham free-kick was cleared and his second attempt was headed clear only as far a Steven Gerrard who smashed the ball home from 30yds out to make it 2-1 with a stunning strike.

Three minutes into the second-half and 2-1 became 3-1 in what was the perfect start to the second period for the visitors. Beckham found Emile Heskey who headed back across to Owen and Owen found the net on the half volley to grab his second. A fourth followed 18 minutes later as Owen completed his hat-trick. A long kick forward from the keeper was headed onto Owen who rushed forward towards the goal before slotting home. Owen was on fire, England were rampant. Then on 73 minutes, there was a fifth for England. Paul Scholes back to Beckham, Scholes runs forward and Beckham finds him with a pinpoint long pass, Scholes takes the ball forward and hits it through to Emile Heskey, unmarked, who slots home past Kahn. That was that no further goals and England won 5-1 in what was an emphatic victory against 'ze Germans' which helped ease the pain of two semi-final penalty shoot-out defeats against them at Italia '90 and Euro '96 respectively.

England gained automatic qualification for the following years World Cup finishing top of the qualifying group. A Beckham free-kick in second-half injury time secured a 2-2 draw with Greece in their final match whilst at the same time Germany themselves drew 0-0 with Finland and had to settle for second place. Germany would qualify through the play-offs, however, and make it all the way to the World Cup final where they lost to a Brazil side who had defeated England in the quarter finals.

Olympique Lyonnais Féminin 2-0 1. FFC Frankfurt, UEFA Women's Champions League Final, 17 May 2012

Munich's Olympiastadion has hosted three European Cup/Champions League finals over the course of the history of the competition. Nottingham Forest defeated Malmo FF there in 1979, whilst Marseille defeated AC Milan 1-0 at the venue in 1993, and four years later the final returned to the stadium and saw Borussia Dortmund defeat Juventus 3-1. If you include women's football, however, there has actually been four of these finals at the Olympiastadion. 

The 2012 UEFA Women's Champions League Final set a new record attendance for a women's club match in Europe with a crowd of 50,212. Those present saw Olympique Lyonnais Féminin defeat 1. FFC Frankfurt thanks to first-half goals from Eugénie Le Sommer and Camille Abily. 15 minutes in Frankfurt's Melanie Behringer brought down Shirley Cruz Traña in the box and from the spot, Le Sommer smashed the ball past the keeper who despite diving the right way had no chance of stopping the ball find the net. On 28 minutes a long clearance saw Frankfurt goalkeeper Desirée Schumann rush out and head the ball into the path of Abily who looped the ball over her to double Lyon's lead. 

Lyon dominated most of the match but failed to increase their lead, 2-0 was the final scoreline and Lyon were European champions. The following season Lyon reached the final again only to lose to VfL Wolfsburg Frauen whilst in 2016 they returned again and this time were victors over Wolfsburg defeating them via a penalty shoot-out. That 2016 win was the first of four Champions League final triumphs in a row for the club. The following season saw them win again on penalties as they this time defeated Paris Saint-Germain Féminine whilst successive 4-1 wins over Wolfsburg again in 2018 and FC Barcelona Femení in 2019 followed. Frankfurt had one more final appearance up their sleeves as they defeated PSG 2-1 in 2015.

FC Bayern München 4-3 SG Dynamo Dresden, European Cup Second Round, October 24, 1973

When FC Bayern were drawn to face Dynamo Dresden in the second round of the 1973-74 European Cup, it would produce an epic East versus West duel. The two German nations would face off against each other as their two best sides met in Europe's premier club competition.

50,000 spectators were present for the first leg at the Olympiastadion including 1,000 Dresden supporters hand picked by the Stasi (East German secret police) who saw Dresden take the lead then come from 2-1 down to lead 3-2 at the break. 

Dynamo broke forward on 13 minutes in a move that ended with Frank Ganzera hitting the ball across the box only for Johnny Hansen to knock the ball into his own net. 1-0 to the visitors. Four minutes later it was all square, however, as Bayern broke forward and Bernd Dürnberger found Wilhelm Hoffmann who slotted home. 1-1 soon became 2-1, nine minutes later to be precise. Dürnberger smashed the ball home in off the post from the edge of the D and the hosts were in front. Rainer Sachse on 36 minutes and Gert Heidler on 42 minutes turned the game, however, and put the visitors 3-2 up at the break. A cross into the box saw Sachse score with a diving header whilst Heidler, the ball headed down to him, controlled the ball turned and hit home from close range. 

Both teams had chances in the second-half but Bayern were the better side and won the match 4-3. Poor defending helped Franz Roth drive the ball home for the equaliser on 17 minutes whilst 12 minutes later Gerd Müller ran in to knock the ball home from close range after a cross into the box missed several Bayern heads.

FC Bayern went all the way to the final that year and after 1-1 draw with Atlético de Madrid defeated them 4-0 in a replay to crown themselves champions of Europe for the very first time. The following season Bayern faced more East German opposition with 1. FC Magdeburg beat 3-2 at home and 2-1 away. Again Bayern reached the final and again they won with Leeds United defeated 2-0 whilst a third consecutive triumph saw AS Saint-Étienne defeated 1-0 in the 1976 final. Bayern did not reach the final again until 1982 when they lost to Aston Villa. Twice more runners up in 1987 and 1999 it would be 2001 and some 25 years after their last triumph before they were crowned champions of Europe again. Dynamo Dresden have never reached a European final.

Soviet Union 0-2 Netherlands, Euro 88 Final, 25 June 1988

The Dutch have painful memories of losing the 1974 World Cup final at Munich's Olympiastadion but when they returned to the venue for the final of the European Championships in 1988 it was an altogether happier occasion.

The Netherlands had actually lost to their final opponents Soviet Union 1-0 in their opening match but followed that up with victories over England and Republic of Ireland to reach the semi finals where they avenged that 1974 defeat by beating Germany 2-1. The Soviet Union, meanwhile, had drawn with Ireland and beaten England before defeating Italy 2-0 in the semis.

The Soviets had the better of the opening exchanges but it was the Dutch who found themselves in front at the break thanks to a thumping header from captain Ruud Guillit. In the second half, Marco Van Basten scored what would go down as one of the greatest goals in the history of the European Championships. It came in the 54th minute and Van Basten volleyed a right-footed shot over 'keeper Rinat Dasayev from the tightest of angles on the right of the penalty area after a looping ball from Arnold Muhren had found him. Later the Soviets would miss a penalty when Hans van Breukelen saved from Igor Belanov having himself brought down Sergey Gotsmanov to concede said penalty.

The Dutch held on for the win and Guillit lifted the trophy as the Netherlands won a major tournament for the first and to date only time in their history. Those in orange finally had something to celebrate.

TSV 1860 München 2-3 Newcastle United, Intertoto Cup Semi Final, 25 July 2001

Okay, being a Newcastle fan I may be a little biased in picking this one but in my defence, it was a five goal thriller. 

The now defunct Intertoto Cup was once upon a time a qualification route for the UEFA Cup, or UEFA Europa League as it is now known, and separate from the UEFA Cup's own qualifying rounds. The Intertoto Cup was formed as a summer football tournament in the 1960s and came under the wing of UEFA in 1995. Clubs could apply to take part in the competition with the highest ranked clubs from each countries applicants selected by UEFA to participate.

In the 2001 edition Newcastle United were drawn against TSV 1860 München at the semi final stage. Having entered only in the previous round, United had defeated Belgian side Sporting Lokeren whilst, entering a round earlier than their semi final opponents, 1860 had defeated Serbians FK Sartid Smederevo and Dutch side RKC Waalwijk before facing Newcastle.

United found themselves 2-0 up with goals from Nolberto Solano on 11 and 55 minutes - the second a penalty whilst 1860 scored twice to draw level at 2-2. The first of those was scored by Paul Agostino and came just a minute after the visitors had doubled their lead whilst the second came 10 minutes later and was scored by Filip Tapalovic. United won the match in the 83rd minute, however, thanks to a goal from Aaron Hughes. The Northern Ireland international met a Solano cross to head home and secure a vital first leg win.

Newcastle won the second leg at home 3-1 but would lose to French side Troyes in the finals with all the goals coming in a second leg that finished 4-4 and saw Troyes win on the away goals rule.

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