Two years before Germany’s golden generation were to become World champions on home soil, they won the European Championship for the first-time beating Belgium in the semi-final to dash the hosts title dreams.
The Germans qualified for their first European final tournament after overcoming Poland, Albania and Turkey with ease in the group stage before dispatching ‘old enemy’ England in the quarter-finals thanks largely to their 3-1 first leg win at Wembley.
The finals tournament was a four-team affair with Belgium, the Soviet Union and Hungary involved in the competition hosted by the Belgians. With the two previous hosts Spain (1964) and Italy (1968) having won the trophy hopes were high that the Diablo Rouge could follow suit, but the Germans were to spoil the party at the Bosuilstadion in Antwerp with the 2-1 scoreline not really illustrating the Teutonic dominance.
A class above
West Germany (as they were known then) were in a different class. Schalke’s Erwin Kremers was a real threat early on forcing a save from Christian Piot. Gerd Müller opened the scoring in the 24th minute heading in Günter Netzer’s high lob after keeper Piot missed his punch.
Germany and Bayern Munich captain Franz Beckenbauer showed his growing class controlling the game in the second 45 minutes aided most ably by the mercurial Gunther Netzer. It was Netzer’s long precise pass to Müller in the 71st minute that brought the second goal with the prolific Bayern striker controlling before finishing past Piot.
Belgium kept going, but the game was never out of German control. When Polleunis scored from close range with seven minutes left it was no more than a consolation.
Helmut Schön’s Germany would go on to beat the Soviet Union in the final with Gerd Müller once again grabbing two goals and Herbert Wimmer adding a third. Two years late the Nationalelf would secure their second World Cup with a triumph on home soil.
Germany: Maier, Beckenbauer, Höttges, Schwarzenbeck, Wimmer, Netzer, Hoeneß (Grabowski 59), Breitner, Heynckes, Müller, Kremers
Belgium: Piot, Vandendaele, Heylens, Thissen, Dolmans, Semmeling, Verheyen, Dockx, Martens (Polleunis 70), Lambert, van Himst
1-0 Müller (24)
2-0 Müller (71)
2-1 Polleunis (83)