Five reasons to watch Netherlands v West Germany 1974 on SBS

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SBS will be showing the 1974 FIFA World Cup final today at 2:30pm (AEST). Nick Stoll explains why you shouldn't miss out on this historical match.

WATCH the next of our FIFA Women's World Cup classic matches - Brazil v Australia 2015 - this Sunday 14 June at 3:00pm (AEST) on SBS and streamed via The World Game website / app and SBS On Demand.

1. Cruyff

Johan Cruyff is the greatest football mind in history. 

When it came to him on the field, his inventiveness, decision-making and technical ability were unrivalled at the time. 

Add in his coaching career; the transformative effect his Ajax and Barcelona sides had on world football was incomparable.

To watch Cruyff play football is to receive a lesson in football. 

As Eduardo Galeano wrote: “The Netherlands had music and the one who carried the melody, keeping so many simultaneous notes on pitch and in tune, was Johan Cruyff.

"Conducting the orchestra and playing his own instrument at the same time, Cruyff worked harder than anyone.”

This is evident in the first minute, when Cruyff picks the ball up as the last man for the Netherlands, having conducted the entire team in the build-up. 

Cruyff, never short of self-belief, sets off on a solo run and is brought down, earning his side a penalty before West Germany had even touched the ball.

Former Socceroos assistant coach Johan Neeskens converts from the spot to put the Dutch 1-0 up. 

This was Cruyff’s only World Cup - and no one has dominated a single World Cup like him and not go on to win it. 

This match is also a lesson in the limitations of the individual in football. 

For as brilliant as Cruyff was, there was only so much he or anyone can do. In football, the team always trumps the individual. 

Over the course of 90 minutes, this match shows football’s greatest mind wrestling with this concept. 

2. Beckenbauer 

It’s hard to think of another World Cup final that saw two players as great as Cruyff and Franz Beckenbauer square off. Both are top 10 players of all-time.

Johan gave us the Cruyff turn, but every time a centre-back decides to dribble the ball out of defence, everyone thinks of Beckenbauer. 

Like Cruyff, Beckenbauer was another football genius. Someone who had incredible success as a player and a coach. 

Watching Beckenbauer is another lesson in what it means to be a complete defender. To be crucial to your team in all phases of the match. 

And like Cruyff, he too was immortalised by Galeano: “Bucking the trend towards a football of sheer panzer-style strength, he proved that elegance can be more powerful than a tank and delicacy more penetrating than a howitzer. 

“He commanded both attack and defence with nobility: in the back nothing escaped him, not one ball, not a fly, not a mosquito could get through; and when he crossed the field he was like fire. 

3. Muller

Cruyff and Beckenbauer were the headline acts of this title decider but maybe the difference-maker seperating the two sides was Gerd Muller. 

Muller is one of the greatest strikers to ever kick a ball. 

He scored over 700 goals for club and country playing less than 800 matches. Not bad for a guy who was told by a coach at his first club that he wouldn’t go far in football. 

Muller went all the way to the top, scoring the winning goal in this match. 

"Muller was short, squat, awkward-looking and not notably fast; he never fitted the conventional idea of a great footballer, but he had lethal acceleration over short distances, a remarkable aerial game, and uncanny goalscoring instincts,” David Winner writes in Brilliant Orange

“His short legs gave him a strangely low center of gravity, so he could turn quickly and with perfect balance in spaces and at speeds that would cause other players to fall over. He also had a knack of scoring in unlikely situations."

4. Total Football v German efficiency 

It’s the battle that never ends in football. The beautiful attacking side versus the cunning defensive team. The irresistible force and the immovable object. 

For every Brazil 1982, there is an Italy. For every Barcelona 2010, there is an Inter Milan. For every Liverpool 2020, there is an Atletico Madrid. 

The best team doesn’t always win, it makes football so alluring. 

This dutch team will be remembered forever. More books will be written about them, more documentaries made, more YouTube videos watched.

But Germany has the star on the shirt and the trophy in their cabinet. Which would you prefer? 

5. Controversy 

Every great match must have controversy and, in some cases, conspiracy theories. 

Germany’s first-half penalty is hotly contested. 

Berti Vogts, back then playing for West Germany, declared in 1997 that the penalty awarded to West Germany was unjustified. However, he remains the only one in the team who wants to comment on it.

Some went further. 

Former FIFA president Joao Havelange went further, claiming the tournament was rigged for the home side to win. 

Watch for yourself and decide.

Source SBS The World Game