WEST GERMANY 0 ENGLAND 0 – 1972 European Championship Quarter Final 2nd Leg – Olympiastadion, Berlin 13/05/72

Creation v Destroyer - The Different Philosophies of the Two sides personified by Netzer and Hunter - Photo from ESPN

Two weeks after the late capitulation at Wembley, England travelled to West Berlin to play the second leg of their quarter final tie against the Germans. England needed a two goal victory to take the tie to a replay (there was no away goal rule), and were expected to play an attacking line up to try to recover the situation.

There was therefore a sense of dismay when the England team was announced. Worried about the influence that Gunter Netzer had in the first leg, Sir Alf Ramsey decided to nullify him by picking two midfield hard men. Out went the singing duo of Peters and Lee, replaced by the hatchet men of Peter Storey and Norman Hunter. The only flair in the side was the selection of Rodney Marsh up front in place of Geoff Hurst. Roy Macfarland, from the newly crowned champions Derby County, took up Hunter’s centre back role.

Sir Alf’s plan to stop the Germans playing certainly worked. However, as everyone else knew, by preventing the opposition from playing, Ramsey had sacrificed any chance of England turning the tie around. His fear of losing had trumped his desire to win. England did improve defensively, but attacking play from both sides was at a premium.

The gamble of playing the untried Rodney Marsh failed, and he was withdrawn after an hour. Again Sir Alf’s cautiousness let him down. With another untried striker in Malcolm Macdonald on the bench, Ramsey played safe again and brought on another midfielder in Mike Summerbee. Only in the last 20 minutes did Ramsey open up slightly, sacrificing Hunter but only for Martin Peters.

The game petered out into a goalless draw, a result which although saved face still saw England crash out of the Championships. The German coach, Helmut Schoen and his graceful midfielder Netzer were scathing of England’s tactics after the game. Netzer claimed that: “all the English team had autographed my leg” whilst Schoen complained of England’s “brutal tackling aimed at the bones.”

The game marked the beginning of the end for many of Ramsey’s World Cup heroes, with the Home International’s to come allowing Ramsey to start building a squad for the 1974 World Cup Qualifiers.

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