In keeping with previous tournaments, 16 nations competed in the 1974 World Cup Finals in West Germany. Scotland took on the role of representing the British Isles after England's dismal failure to qualify (maybe the Polish keeper wasn't so much of a clown, eh Cloughie?).
In point of fact Scotland were genuinely unlucky not to qualify from their first round group - they finished tied on four points each with Yugoslavia and Brazil, didn't lose a game, yet were eliminated on goal difference, the key goal being scored by Valdomiro for Brazil against Zaire with only 11 minutes left to play.
In the other groups, neighbours East Germany and West Germany qualified from group one - in their group game, East Germany had nicked a 1-0 win thanks to one Jürgen Sparwasser. Holland and Sweden were too strong for Bulgaria and Uruguay and in the group of death, Poland and Argentina prevailed over Italy and less surprisingly, Haiti.
Next up instead of quarter finals and semis, two more groups of four would decide who would contest the final on 7 July at the Olympic Stadium in Munich. In the first group, probably the more difficult of the two, the Dutch with their Total Football were far too strong for Brazil, East Germany and Argentina, scoring 8 without reply in winning all their games. In the other group, West Germany also won all their games, but were a little less imperious than their neighbours to the west, edging out Poland by beating hem 1-0 with a Gerd Muller goal in the last 15 minutes of their last game.
Of course the final is, as they say, history, but it is interesting to note that the Dutch took the lead with a 2nd minute penalty penalty (the first in a world cup final), before the West Germans had touched the ball. However, a Paul Breitner penalty (the second in a world cup final!) and another goal from Der Bomber ensured that the home nation won the tournament for the second time, thus drawing level with Italy and Uruguay.
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