As France and Germany prepare to face off in the quarterfinals of Brazil 2014, we should take a moment to remember the Saarland National Team. In the aftermath of World War II France, as one of the four occupying powers, resisted the reintegration of the Saar region into the Federal Republic of Germany. The residents of the Saar, likewise, resisted annexation by France.
As a consequence there was a shortlived Saarland Fussballbund. While FC Saarbrucken temporarily joined Ligue 2 in France, there was a "domestic" competition of teams of marginal quality. The real story, however, was the shortlived "selection". The Saarland eleven played 19 matches between November, 1950 and June, 1956. Many against "B" squads.
Importantly, they participated in World Cup Qualifying for the 1954 tournament. Drawn into a triangular series against Norway and West Germany, their greatest success was a come from behind win in Oslo, the only away win the team ever had. Getting past eventual World Champion West Germany, however, was never in the cards.
While watching the game this afternoon, spare a moment to contemplate the National Team for a disputed territory that was never its own nation. A footnote in the long, strange, interesting history of the World Cup.