Breitner vs Netzer vs Overath

Discussion in 'The Beautiful Game' started by joaquimdelblanco1, Feb 12, 2024.

  1. joaquimdelblanco1

    Oct 29, 2023
    I accidentally posted this in a thread for modern football so sorry if you've already seen it.

    I wanted to get some opinion on the level of these three players from those who watched them.

    I didn't see them play, but I first came to the conclusion that Overath was the lesser of the 3.

    Major Trophies at club level:
    Breitner: Bundesliga (5), La Liga (2), European Cup (1)
    Netzer: Bundesliga (2), La Liga (2)
    Overath: Bundesliga (1)

    World XI appearances (World Soccer):
    Breitner: 4
    Netzer: 3
    Overath: 0

    Bundesliga TOTS appearances:
    Breitner: 7
    Netzer: 7
    Overath: 4

    International football TOTTs:
    Breitner: 2 (1972 Euros, 1974 WC)
    Netzer: 1 (1972 Euros)
    Overath: 1 (1974 WC)

    Highest Balon D'Or finish:
    Breitner: 2nd (1981)
    Netzer: 2nd (1972)
    Overath: 5th (1970)

    Iffhs Ranking for 21st Century:
    Breitner: 84th Best European
    Netzer: 93rd Best European
    Overath: 96th Best European

    German Footballer of the Year:
    Breitner: 1
    Netzer: 2
    Overath: 0

    Other Reputable Nominations:
    Breitner: Balon D'Or 3rd All-Time Team, Pele's FIFA 100, Bayern All-Time XI
    Netzer: World Soccer Top 100 Players Ever
    Overath: None

    But despite this, I've been often told that these 3 players should be treated as equals. Overath took Netzer's spot for the national team. This could just be one of these things, international football has a lot of variables. Or it could be relevant.

    Is Overath underrated in the factors above because he never played for Real Madrid? Because he's not as famous, with Breitner and Netzer being on TV a lot? It could be a case that Overath's legacy has been forgotten by the new generation.

    So, how would you rank these three? Should Overath be considered as good as the other 2, or even better?
    harms and Isaías Silva Serafim repped this.
  2. Al Gabiru

    Al Gabiru Member

    Jan 28, 2020
    Breitner is one of the best left-backs in history, alongside Nilton Santos, Junior and Roberto Carlos. He later played in midfield, but I think he's more recognised as a left-back.

    Netzer was seen as more talented and Overath more consistent. The best Germany of the Beckenbauer era was with Netzer in the 1972 European Championship. Overath was one of the best playmakers in three World Cups (1966, 1970 and 1974). Peak vs Carrer. I think sofascore has revived Overath's legacy, maybe now, in the coming years, Netzer will be more forgotten

    Three legends of the game
  3. harms

    harms Member

    Oct 2, 2021
    He shouldn't be though. His peak as a footballer was, without a doubt, as a midfielder. To be fair, he was a fairly unique fullback — there wasn't yet a role for it but you'd call it a false fullback now as he spent so much time in midfield (even when starting, nominally, at left back).

    It's obviously a testament to his immense quality that he's probably Germany's 2nd best left back of all-time (behind only Brehme), but he should be assessed as a midfielder first and foremost.
    msioux75 repped this.
  4. harms

    harms Member

    Oct 2, 2021
    1. Netzer
    2. Breitner
    3. Overath
    Probably like this, although I'm tempted to put Breitner first. Overath is definitely 3rd in my book but he doesn't look out of place in that company and that's an enormous compliment.

    There's really not much between Netzer and Breitner. Both were true mavericks — I feel like Overath lacked a bit of that, he was more like a brilliant part of a well-oiled machine. The Netzer - Overath switch was the biggest difference between the 1972 and 1974 West Germany, with the former being arguably the most impressive and entertaining side to ever play in the competition (maybe alongside France 84') and the latter being more of a result-driven star-studded juggernaut.

    Breitner... his partnership with Rummenigge was simply out of this world. I was going to put him first but ended up choosing Netzer ahead of him simply because of the competition. Netzer was arguably the brightest star of that 1972 team (while Beckenbauer snatched Ballon d'Or — with 81 points to Müller's and Netzer's 79 — it was Netzer who was voted Footballer of the Year in Germany) and he led Mönchengladbach to 2 Bundesliga titles... all while playing with (NT)/against (club) peak Beckenbauer and Müller. That's insane.
    joaquimdelblanco1 repped this.
  5. PDG1978

    PDG1978 Member+

    Mar 8, 2009
    Nottingham Forest FC
    #5 PDG1978, Feb 14, 2024
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2024
    Yes, I'm thinking the same about Breitner peaking as a midfielder, because it opened up more possibilities for playmaking and driving runs and/or because he literally peaked in terms of his technical/physical/mental abilities around the beginning of the 80s. At that point probably only the presence of great midfield players in a squad would make the case to put him at left back - I guess it could be a bit like with Bryan Robson in that left back could be a good position but it's restrictive in terms of everything that the player can bring to the game. Maybe I'd even see that as a fairly close comparison in terms of midfielder vs midfielder based on peak (not to say they were extremely similar as I suppose Breitner probably had a bit more in the way of passing range, acceleration and dribbling, and Robson offered a bit more as a literal box to box player in terms of combining defensive contributions with acting almost as a 'shadow striker' at times when he got forwards towards the opposition box).

    I suppose when it comes to those drafts we used to do on this forum, or just picking all-time XIs one by one in priority order or something, then Breitner can enter the equation as a left-back choice earlier than he enters as a chosen midfielder though probably, so Al Gabiru was correct in that respect, if looking at it like that. I also wonder whether Guardiola for example would be more inclined to play him as a left back if he was available today for Manchester City to sign, in theory, given how he could play in that position.

    Interestingly Overath did make it onto World Soccer's own editorial team 'guide list' they published when they invited public votes for that World Players of the Century poll they did (Netzer was on the 2nd list; similarly Rivera was on the main list and Riva on the 2nd list but Rivera ended a little outside the top 100 based on the voting, though with more points than Overath, while Riva made it inside it in a similar area to where Netzer was). Breitner didn't actually get any points (looking at it one way though that just means that nobody voted him in their top 10 all-time players - on the other hand he played in a time which would be fairly advantageous for getting votes at that moment in theory I suppose), but he was on the 2nd guide list World Soccer published, as comme revealed when I asked him about it, and he did edge both Netzer and Overath in the rsssf players of the century voting of course like joaquimdelblanco already stated himself - I'll put a link below too while I'm at it though:
    The Best x Players of the Century/All-Time (
    England Player Honours - World Soccer Players of the Century ( (scroll down to the bottom for points of players that were outside the top 100)
    IFFHS' Century Elections (
    IFFHS' Century Elections ( (2nd link goes straight to points/order among German players only, but the world and European election results are higher up and can be seen via the first link of course).
    joaquimdelblanco1 repped this.
  6. PDG1978

    PDG1978 Member+

    Mar 8, 2009
    Nottingham Forest FC
    I suppose what goes against Breitner's legacy as midfielder/player a bit might be that he didn't fulfill maximum expectations in the 1982 World Cup really....

    Although his peak was slightly earlier anyway, his partnership with Rummenigge wasn't going to come to fruition to proper effect in that tournament because of Rummenigge's fitness/injury problems, and Breitner did still make some telling key contributions along the way to the Final (for example it was his incisiveness that led to the opportunity for Littbarski to score vs France, and it was him that set up Littbarski who set up Fischer to score vs Spain too...hence a 'pre-assist' as we say now on that goal).

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