The following was written by David Miller of England for the 'Official Documentation of the Organizing Committee for the 1974 World Cup Football Tournament': Did the best four teams reach the final two matches in 1974? On reflection I would say that the team which perhaps least deserved to be there were Brazil, three times former champions. In fact, had West Germany not lost to the East Germans in the first round, thereby going into Group A as expected instead of Group B, then Holland and West Germany would have qualified form Group A, to the exclusion of Brazil, and Poland and either Yugoslavia or Sweden from Group B. There is little doubt in my mind that Yugoslavia were technically one of the best three teams. But like Holland in the final they forgot that the game is half about character. The Slavs all wanted to be great players. They, and others, could do well to listen to David Hay, who with Billy Bremner epitomised the Scottish attitude. “When we go on the field, we are ready to give blood for Scotland” said Hay. “If patriotism is silly, ok, we are silly. We’d like a lot of money, of course, but even without it we’ll play till we drop.” The only two players in the Yugoslav team approaching this attitude were Acimovic, the burly, almost tubby little Red Star midfield man, and tall Surjak from Hajduk. Two more with the same mental stability as they, and I believe the Slavs could have radically altered the outcome of the tournament. As it was, Bogicevic, the midfield ‘sweeper’ who was equipped to be one of the great players of the finals, and Bajevic, a striker of inestimable talent, were both almost total failures, while Dzajic, once Europe’s number one winger, was way below form, after two years in the army. Poland, having eliminated England with one of the surprise performances of history – and unbelievable luck at Wembley – shone a rainbow across the World Cup while others were more concerned with the crock of gold at its end. From the first few minutes against Argentina, their luck continued to hold, did so against Sweden and Yugoslavia in the second round, but deserted them against West Germany, but for which they might well have been in the final. They gave to the competition, together with Scotland, that spirit of slightly reckless adventure, but, more than Scotland, they had striking power up front sufficient to frighten anyone. Gadocha and Lato emphasised the value of fast wingers playing wide, and Szarmach, appearing from nowhere, so to speak, became the competition’s second top scorer – after Lato. Gorgon, their craggy, blond centerhalf, had improved enormously since playing England, Szymanowski and Musial were among the most intelligent back-line players to be seen. Deyna, in a quiet way, exerted an influence on the team from the middle of the field as great as Cruyff on Holland, with articulate supprt on the right flank from Kasperczak. Poland, it could certainly be said, were a pleasure to watch, not least the remarkable Tomaszewski, who as at Wembley continued to save shots with both ends of his body, often unwittingly, with an improbability which had its own special charm – if you were not on the other side. Brazil are discussed at length elsewhere. They possessed probably the best back-line in the competition in Ze Maria, Luis Pereira, Mario Marinho, and Francisco Marinho, but were so obsessed with caution, ultimately shamefully aggressive, that they forfeited much of that unique prestige which they have earned in the past. It will take them a long time to live down their attitudes of 1974. As Dettmar Cramer, one of the world’s foremost coaches and a member of the FIFA technical committee, remarked in the first week: “It is a beautiful story, that Brazil has an endless supply of Pelés. The only trouble is, it is not true.” The tournament was a disaster for the much publicised black Paulo Cesar, while Jairzinho was a shadow of the man who had adorned the game in Mexico. With Edu left out in the cold – the total contrast to a left winger to Zagalo himself – the other strikers who were used, Valdomiro, Mirandinha, Leivinha, Dirceu, were nothing more than average. When Brazil became ordinary, what prize football? Even Rivelino, their one remaining great attacking talent, was a devalued figure, trying to shoulder the midfield leadership for which he was not equipped. Much has been written about Holland, but perhaps one may best again quote Dettmar Cramer: "Holland, and Cruyff, have shown us just how brilliant, how far ahead of his time, di Stéfano was with Real Madrid 20 years ago. He and Cruyff are in many ways identical. They operate over the whole length of the pitch, directing the start of attacks, yet being there to help conclude them. Cruyff has the same even temperament, yet like di Stéfano can be hard and brave, when it is necessary. A super player." Elaborating on the Dutch, Tomislav Ivic, one of Yugoslavia’s coaches and manager of Hajduk Split, explained: "A great team now needs five qualities, - technique, tactics, stamina, mental maturity and physical size. It is no coincidence that Holland, besides everything else, are one of the tallest and strongest teams here. Previously it has been enough to have one or two qualities. This is no longer so." There is of course a sixth quality which is an inevitable product of the five – the ability to pace a match, to ‘coast’ in between periods of intense pressure. It was true of the Hungarians in 1954, of Brazil in 1958 and 1970, of the multinational Real Madrid and Barcelona in the late ‘50s, of the pre-Munich Manchester United. It was true of Holland – until, in a moment of insanity, they believed they could coast after only 60 seconds of the final. They would not have done that would they have been better judges of character – and history. Yet if the Germans snatched the trophy from Holland, nobody can take away the memory of their wonderfully fluent displays. Here was truly total football, a team attacking with 10 men, all players capable of playing in all positions as the movements developed. "Will Holland play without a sweeper in the final?" I asked Rinus Michels at their Hiltrup lake-side camp. "We are an attacking side, but even Holland cannot play without a goalkeeper" Michels replied with a smile. There was truth in the joke. With Haan playing in front of Rijsbergen, it was Jongbloed’s responsibility to come out to clear the loose balls played in behind the backline. The secret of Holland’s system was to play without a central striker, leaving the whole front middle area clear, so that any player could break into it – Rensenbrink or Krol on the left flank, Rep or Suurbier on the right, or Neeskens, Jansen, Cruyff, van Hanegem and even Haan through the middle. Holland appeared to play in ‘packs’, always with three or more players within 15 yards of the ball, because of their elaboration of the ‘whirl theory’, in which the player passing the ball immediately runs to the point, to which he has just passed. The system swamped the Germans in the second half of the final, just as it had swamped others, but this time the goals would not come. Germany, with tremendous strength of character in men like Bonhof and Vogts, not to mention the established stars, Beckenbauer, Breitner and Müller, took their chance with an opportunism which has characterised their World Cup record. Ever since they first appeared in the competition as ‘West’ Germany in 1954, they have performed if anything above rather than below the sum total of their component parts – with England, the best ‘competitors’ in the game. In 1974 they only just in time overcame their internal squabbling and friction – commonsense being forced upon them by the traumatic defeat at the hands of East Germany. That had a double effect, it kept them apart from Holland in the second round groups and as Helmut Schön admitted after the final: "It made all the players realise that they had to pull together, to get down to business." They did so with a will, and now they have joined Uruguay and Italy in having won the World Cup twice, the others being Brazil, three times, and England, once. Of course, Germany had stars, some truly great players in men like Beckenbauer, Müller and Breitner. But had they a team? Of course, they would have a huge crowd at their back, and the Germans are traditionally fine match-players temperamentally, producing teams which do not readily accept defeat. This particular team had lost much of the exciting quality which had characterised the winning of the 1972 European Championship. The decline of Günter Netzer had meant a loss of that special three-dimensional quality which a player of his immense perception gives to any team – which Cruyff now gave to Holland. The fact that the muscular Bonhof, introduced against Yugoslavia in a remarkable upheaval of four changes, now represented the character of the team in midfield – a capacity for work rather than for inspired improvisation – was not something which sent neutrals rushing to put their money on Germany. Of course, Müller was and still is the greatest ‘percentage’ close range finisher in the game, but would he get the chances even against a defense which scorned a sweeper, leaving its goalkeeper to clear up the loose ends on the edge of the box? Of course, too, Beckenbauer, by the simple deceit of wearing number 5, was the fluent instigator of more than half of Germany’s attacks, a fact which opposing sides seemed to ignore purely on account of the number on his back. And Breitner, with those powerful surges into the opposing half, was with Krol the most formidable full-back in the competition. Yet for all this had West Germany not made heavy weather of Chile and lost to East Germany, had they not looked occasionally vulnerable against Yugoslavia, Sweden and Poland? There was no doubting their virility, but there were genuine doubts that they could even begin to scale the same technical and tactical heights as the Dutch. Holland, apart from 10 or 15 minutes in the first half against Brazil had never been in the slightest difficulty. While Germany were probably dependent on either Muller or Breitner to get their goals, Holland could look to at least five players as potential matchwinners – Cruyff, Neeskens, Rep, Jansen and Krol. Of the two stoppers, Rijsbergen and Schwarzenbeck, the one more likely to be exposed was Schwarzenbeck as Holland pushed any one of six men through the middle. The main speculation before the final centred on whether Bonhof or Vogts would be given the job of shadowing Cruyff in the attempt to achieve the impossible and nullify his uncomparable skills. Bonhof would be the best positioned, but the tough little Vogts had the speed. It was Vogts who got the job. If one is looking for an insight into Germany’s own feelings about the game it comes from Beckenbauer, who said before the final: "Of course Cruyff is fantastic, but I must think of my own game not his. I think we are strong now, although before the game against Yugoslavia I feared we would not reach the final." West Germany beat the favorites to take the title for the second time in 20 years because they had the character, the mental tenacity to refuse to allow Holland to make fools of them. While a Dutch victory would have been a triumph for pure skill, there is no denying that Germany’s gritty but less than polished achievement was the spice of uncertainty which makes football such a fascinating game. I do not believe that Germany were a great team, certainly not one with the potential or flair of the Dutch, but then nor were England the best team, simply in terms of skill, in 1966.