Host: West Germany
Format: Group stage, second round, third-place playoff, final
Winner: West Germany
Golden boot: Grzegorz Lato (Poland)
The tournament was hosted by West Germany for the first time, and under heavy security cover following the Munich attack of the 1972 Olympics.
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The tournament was held across nine cities in West Germany, including West Berlin.
After a lengthy qualification stage, countries such as England, Spain, Mexico and Portugal missed out. East Germany played their only World Cup, while Australia, Haiti and Zaire (now DRC) also qualified for the first time.
The golden generation of Brazil had long left the world stage, and taken with them their samba style of football, as well as the legend that is Pele.
Brazil’s 1974 team played a different brand of football and were replaced by the Netherlands as crowd pleasers. Led by Johan Cruyff, the Dutch team used “total football”, wherein every outfield player could take any role depending on their position. They remained unbeaten until the final where they met the reigning European champions and hosts West Germany.
Cruyff won a penalty inside the first minute, before any German player could touch the ball, and gave Netherlands the lead.
Germany equalised with a penalty of their own in the 25th minute. Gerd Muller then scored before half time and it turned out to be the winning goal.
Dutch display of “total football” mesmerised the crowds.
A new trophy, called the Fifa World Cup Trophy made out of 18-carat gold, was introduced.
Oceania and sub-Saharan Africa had their first representation at a World Cup.
East and West Germany played each other at the group stage, resulting in a shock 1-0 for the Eastern side.
Last World Cup for Dutch legend Cruyff and Germany’s Muller.