July 09, 2010

Germany and Uruguay have played each other three times before in the Cup, each before the fall of the Iron Curtain allowed us to retire the moniker "West Germany." In 1966, they drew each other in the quarterfinals; the West Germans were expected to breeze, but after scoring an early fluke goal struggled to put away the Uruguayans, until a rather questionable non-call in the penalty area pissed off the South Americans, who were convinced that the powers-that-be had it in for non-European teams. Deciding that the best revenge was to play kick-the-kraut the rest of the way, at the expense of having two of their players ejected, Team Uruguay collapsed in the final twenty minutes, losing 4-0, and hastened their fall from the ranks of world soccer powers thereafter:

The teams also met in a first-round battle in 1986, resulting in a 1-1 draw. The West Germans thoroughly dominated the game, but had to play catch-up almost the entire way after a bone-headed back pass by the usually dependable Thomas Berthold allowed Uruguay a cheap early goal. Relentless pressure paid off for the Germans in the final ten minutes, allowing both teams to walk away with a point:

But it was back in 1970 that the two countries played each other in a game that, like tomorrow's, really didn't matter, for third place. The Germans, incorporating some of the stars of the team that would dominate '70's soccer, had breezed through the first round, winning all three of their games, then rallied from two goals down in the second half to stun the defending champions, England, in overtime, 3-2, thereby defeating their historic rival for the first of many times. In the semis, against Italy, they played one of the classic games in the history of the World Cup, a see-saw, back-and-forth game that saw three lead changes, an injury time goal by the Germans to tie the game at the end of regulation, and five extra time goals before the Azzurri finally won, 4-3.

Uruguay, on the other hand, had played a distinctly unmemorable tournament, scoring a grand total of four goals in five games (half of them in their opener against Israel). Somehow, they finagled their way it into the semis, where they took an early lead, but were promptly and easily dumped by future champ Brazil, 3-1. Having done absolutely nothing to merit their high placement, and playing against a German team that had played 240 minutes of soccer in the previous five days, Uruguay then proceeded to have its best game of the Cup, but to no avail, losing 1-0. The highlights:

No comments: