Friday 29 October 2021

When Bayern Lost 7-0!: How Klaus Fischer and Schalke 04 Inflicted on Bayern München Their Heaviest Ever Defeat

On Wednesday night FC Bayern München were knocked out of the DFB-Pokal with a 5-0 defeat at Borussia Mönchengladbach. This was the club's heaviest defeat for 43 years. On that occasion they lost 7-1 at Fortuna Düsseldorf, but the club’s heaviest defeat of all time actually came just over two years prior when they lost 7-0 to FC Schalke 04 in 1976. Here is the story around the biggest loss in the history of Germany's most famous name and also the player who put four past them that afternoon.

Asked if there was a huge party in the dressing room afterwards, Klaus Fischer told 11freunde in a 2009 interview that he couldn't remember. One might assume this bout of amnesia on the subject was due to him having celebrated by drinking copious amounts of alcohol and if indeed that was the case then who could blame him? After all, his side had just put seven past their more than illustrious opponents and he himself had scored four of those seven.

FC Bayern München had lost only one of their opening eight Bundesliga matches of the 1976-77 season. With three draws also to their name, however, it was hardly a near perfect start but, then again, it was also anything but a disaster and certainly gave no indication as to what would follow in game 9. Hoping to improve on last season’s third placed finish, the club were desperate to regain the form that had seen them not only crowned Bundesliga champions for a third successive time just two seasons before last but also attach those league accomplishments with three successive European Cup triumphs between 1974 and 1976. Instead, however, a rude awakening was in store.

Delivering that shock would be FC Schalke 04 – a club Klaus Fischer would spend 11 years at. The Gelsenkirchen based side made the 400-mile trip south to Munich's Olympiastadion having won four and lost four of their opening league fixtures with a 2-0 defeat away at 1. FC Köln preceding their trip to Munich. Since the turn of the decade Schalke had only once finished outside the top half come the end of each season but, a second placed finish and a cup triumph in 1972 aside, they had hardly set the world alight.

Sepp Maier, Franz Beckenbauer, Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck, Uli Hoeneß, Gerd Müller, and a young Karl-Heinz Rummenigge - It was a star-studded FC Bayern side who walked onto the field in front of over 50,000 spectators at their then Olympiastadion home on 9 October 1976. Opponents Schalke did also have some international stars in their ranks, indeed Fischer, signed from TSV 1860 München aged 20 in 1970, would gain 45 caps for Germany and become Schalke's all-time record appearance holder with 556 games under his belt, his 226 goals a club record in the Bundesliga era. But Fischer aside, Schalke did not quite have the big names FC Bayern did, and as shown, certainly not in recent times had the same successes.

Even at half-time in this fixture no one could have imagined the final outcome. Against a Bayern side playing a 4-3-3 formation with Beckenbauer as sweeper Schalke were ahead but their lead was only by two goals - the rampage was yet to come. A low right footed drive that went through legs of Schwarzenbeck and past goalkeeper Maier saw Fischer give the visitors the lead on 11 minutes with his fifth goal of the season whilst an Erwin Kremers header just before the interval saw Schalke double that lead. 

Whatever Bayern head coach Dettmar Cramer said to his players at half-time it clearly did no good as within a minute of the restart Schalke had scored a third when Fischer headed home to claim his second - a marvelous diving header one must add! 

Cramer had taken charge of Bayern in early 1975 to bring an end to the five year tenure of Udo Lattek who wasn't able to survive a poor first half of the 1974-75 season. Lattek would soon find Bundesliga success at Borussia Mönchengladbach with two straight titles in 1976 and 1977 before returning to Bayern in the mid-1980s to once again win three successive league titles. Although Cramer had helped steer the club to the final two of their three straight European Cup triumphs, further domestic success had alluded him and at the end of the current season he would be out the door.

18 minutes after Schalke scored their third Manfred Dubski grabbed them a fourth whilst three minutes later Fischer completed his hat-trick to make it 5-0 and the travelling support were now well and truly in dreamland. This time it was a kind of scissor kick for Fischer, similar to but not quite the overhead-kick type of goal he would gain a bit of a reputation for with one particular effort for Germany against Switzerland the following year going down in folklore.

It seemed as if five just wasn't enough for Schalke, however. An excellent counter attack via a long ball forward ended with Rüdiger Abramczik grabbing Schalke's sixth on 74 minutes whilst eight minutes later Fischer was ready and waiting to complete the rout when a low cross into the box saw him claim his fourth of the afternoon and his sides seventh. Fischer once said that “Football is a simple sport” and the man born in Kreuzstraßl near the German-Czech border had certainly made it look simple against Bayern that afternoon.

7-0 the final score - FC Bayern München's heaviest ever defeat, FC Schalke 04's biggest ever win. Today that record still stands for Bayern, Schalke broke theirs with an 11-1 DFB-Pokal win over FC Teningen in 2011. 

Two years earlier Bayern, then league champions, had seen themselves mauled 6-0 by Kickers Offenbach but, having hoped that nightmare was a one off, here they were having suffered an even more horrifying fate. Having conceded 18 goals in their opening eight league matches they’d now conceded over a third of that total in one game alone.

In terms of what do you do after a 7-0 drubbing, the answer for Bayern was a 5-1 home win against fellow Bundesliga side Hamburger SV in the second round of the DFB-Pokal whilst the following month they would defeat Brazilian side Cruzeiro Esporte Clube over two legs to win the Intercontinental Cup and be considered world champions of club football. Unfortunately, their domestic cup run would come to an end at the quarter-final stage, however, as would their hopes of a fourth successive European Cup triumph. A 3-0 aggregate defeat against Dynamo Kyiv their undoing there. The club's Bundesliga form would in the short term recover very well from the 7-0 humiliation with an unbeaten run of five wins and a draw following that disaterous afternoon. Later, the club’s form would be mixed, however, and Bayern ended the season in seventh place.

Schalke would lose as many games in the rest of the season as they had in the eight preceding the Bayern one - a further four in total. An excellent run of form that would see them finish runners up to Gladbach in a thrilling title race which saw Schalke finish only one point behind the Udo Lattek coached champions.

In the longer term, Bayern, who interestingly gained revenge by defeating Schalke 7-1 the following season, would eventually be crowned Bundesliga champions again three years later. A second successive triumph would follow but that same season, 1980-81, would see Schalke relegated and Fischer leave for 1. FC Köln. 

I think we've all lost count of how many more Bundesliga titles FC Bayern München have won in the decades since then, that 7-0 humiliation having had no bearing whatsoever on the 45 years that have followed. The same can also be for FC Schalke 04. They would soon return the Bundesliga and have remained in the top flight for most of the years since, with Fischer even taking temporary charge on a couple of occasions. But Schalke faced Bayern on that sunny October afternoon having never won the Bundesliga and all these years later are still yet to win it. Schalke may have been far superior on the day, but in the end, it is Bayern who went on to dominate German football whilst Schalke were left in their shadows.

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