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Five Bayern Munich games that defined the Golden 1970s

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The second installment of this new BFW Series will cover games played in the 1970s. Nail-biting finals, a political match, and a record defeat will all be revisited on this road down memory lane. 

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Bayern Munich celebrates with the European Cup at the end of the game, 1974.
Bayern Munich celebrates with the European Cup at the end of the game, 1974.
Photo by S&G/PA Images via Getty Images

It has been argued that Bayern’s most successful decade ever was the 1970s. Bayern won a total of 5 domestic titles and 4 international titles, doubling the number of titles in the trophy cabinet in the space of six years.

Bayern Munich’s Domestic and International trophies during the 1970s:

Bundesliga titles: 3 (1971–72, 1972–73, 1973–74)

DFB Pokal titles: 1 (1970–71)

European Cup titles: 3 (1973–74, 1974–75, 1975–76)

Intercontinental Cup: 1 (1976)

The core from the end of the 1960s — Sepp Maier, Franz Beckenbauer, and Gerd Müller — had gone from unknown Bavarian talents to worldwide superstars. All three were present at the 1970 FIFA World Cup in Mexico. Under the withering heat of the sun, West Germany lost to Italy 4-3 in the semi-finals at the Aztec Stadium. The score was 1-1 after 90 minutes and extra-time brought five more goals in a game that is today dubbed by FIFA as the Game of the Century. Gerd Müller scored 10 goals in the tournament, and he is still today the last person who has managed to score more than 8 goals in a single tournament.

Bayern hired Udo Lattek, a man who was born in modern-Poland during the Nazi Germany era. Lattek had been the assistant coach of the West Germany national team for five years. His appointment was controversial, since he had never coached a club side and was replacing Branko Zebec, who had led Bayern to their first ever Bundesliga title. In 1970, Lattek added the young talents Paul Breitner and Uli Hoeneß, which started a period of nearly total dominance on both the German and European football stages.

1. Bayern Munich 5-1 Schalke 04, June 28, 1972

Bayern won their 5th DFB-Pokal title during their first season under Udo Lattek. Bayern came second in the league after Borussia Mönchengladbach, who won their second consecutive title. It was Gladbach that became Bayern’s biggest domestic rival of the 1970s.

In the last game of the following 1971-72 season, Bayern was one point ahead of second-place Schalke 04. The last and deciding match against Die Königsblauen was played at home. It was the first match in the new Olympiastadion and was also the first live-televised match in Bundesliga history. Fate had set up a game that would see Bayern go down in history.

Bayern won the game with 5-1 and claimed the title while also setting several records, including most points gained and goals scored in a single Bundesliga season. Funnily enough, Gerd Müller, who scored 40 goals in the 1971-72 season, a record that stands today, did not score a single goal in the game.

The Olympiastadion was considered one of the world’s most beautiful and comfortable stadiums at the time and it marked a significant increase in Bayern’s revenues. The stadium assured them financial superiority. As opposed to rivals Borussia Mönchengladbach, the improved economy allowed Bayern to keep their major players.

Bayern won the league twice in a row after 1972, but the zenith of their 1970s success came in their dominance of European football from 1974 to 1976.

2. Bayern Munich 4-3 Dynamo Dresden, October 24, 1973

After the Second World War, Germany was divided between the two global blocs in the East and West. The two newly created nations differed politically, economically and culturally. The separation created a distinct division that is still visible today. Football games between teams from the two countries were often viewed as class struggles between the capitalist West and the communist East, but more often seen as a Bruderkampf, a fight between brothers.

The East German champions entered the European Cup (modern-day Champions League) in the 1957-58 season. While the possibility existed that teams from East and West Germany might be drawn against each other, this did not happen until Bayern was drawn to play East Germany champions Dynamo Dresden in the round of 16 in the 1973-74 edition of the competition.

Bayern was a penalty-shootout away from being eliminated by Swedish champions Åtvidabergs FF in the first round of the cup, a team that currently plays in the Swedish third division. Bayern fared better against Dynamo: Bayern won the first game at the Olympiastadion 4-3 and drew the second game in Dresden, which ended 3-3, a game that saw 300,000 ticket requests.

Bayern went on to beat Bulgarian side CSKA Sofia in the quarterfinals and Hungarian side Újpesti Dózsa in the semis and as a result reached their first ever European Cup final. A game against Atletico Madrid, in the infamous Heysel Stadium in Brussels.

3. Bayern 4-0 Atletico Madrid, 17th of May, 1974

Back in those days, a draw after 120 minutes did not mean that the game was decided by penalty shoot-out, but rather by a re-match. The first game ended 1-1 after 120 minutes. Luis Aragonés, the man who subsequently coached Spain to their first international title in 2008, gave Atletico Madrid the lead in the 114th minute, and it looked like the Spanish team were on course for winning the title. In the very last second of the game, Bayern-legend Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck fired a sensational long-range effort that reached the back of the net. The re-match would take place only 2 days later.

The first-ever replay of the European Cup marked Bayern’s breakthrough as a force on the international stage. Uli Hoeneß and Gerd Müller both scored twice in a fantastic Bayern Munich performance that marked the first time ever a German team had won the European Cup.

A few of months later, six Bayern players were part of the West Germany starting eleven that beat the Netherlands in the 1974 World Cup final at the Olympiastadion.

4. Bayern 1-0 Saint-Étienne, 12th of May, 1976

Bayern won the upcoming 1974-75 edition of the European Cup against English powerhouse Leeds United (now playing in the second-tier Championship and recently infamous for an abortive rebranding attempt). Leeds had a goal disallowed in the 62nd minute, and Bayern capitalized on the Englishmen’s frustration with a goal by Franz Roth in the 71st minute. Gerd Müller extended the lead ten minutes later, securing a 2-0 win for Bayern and the Bavarians’ second consecutive victory in the tournament.

That same season, Bayern failed to retain their Bundesliga title, finishing 10th, but was still able to participate in the upcoming edition of the European Cup as the defending champions.

Udo Lattek was sacked before the Leeds game due to the abysmal Bundesliga performances, and he was replaced by Dortmund-native Dettmar Cramer. Cramer was a very short man (5’2”, 1.61 meters) nicknamed “Napoleon.” He was also known as the “Football Professor” because of his attention to detail.

After the win against Leeds at the Parc des Princes in Paris, Cramer led Bayern to their third consecutive European Cup final. There they would play French champions AS Saint-Étienne at Hampden Park in Glasgow.

On the way to the final, Bayern had beaten Jeunesse Esch from Luxemburg, Malmö FF from Sweden, Benfica from Portugal and, lastly, Real Madrid from Spain. Bayern beat Real Madrid in two heroic performances with an aggregate score of 3-1; the first game in Madrid ended 1-1 but Bayern beat the Record-Champions at home 2-0. Gerd Müller scored all three goals.

Franz “Bulle” Roth, the cult club legend who had a knack for scoring goals in final games, scored the only goal of the final against Saint-Étienne after the referee gave a free kick to Bayern from 20 meters out in the 57th minute. Franz Beckenbauer tipped the ball lightly to Roth who smashed it into the lower left corner of the goal. Bayern had done what Ajax had achieved just before them: they had won three consecutive European Cups. It was a feat that would not be matched again until Zinedine Zidane led Real Madrid to their third consecutive Champions League title against Liverpool.

5. Bayern Munich 0-7 Schalke 04, October 9, 1976

Many would argue that the end of Bayern’s Golden Years was the victory in the International Cup in December 1976. Bayern won against Cruzeiro, beating them 2-0 at home in a frosty Olympiastadion. The second tie of the final was played in front of 117,00 fans at the Mineirão. Due to a fantastic defensive performance from the Bavarians, the game ended 0-0 and Bayern won the tournament for the first time in its history.

I would argue, however, that another game before the victory in Brazil marked the end of an era. Bayern had failed to win the Bundesliga title since the 1973-74 season. An excellent Borussia Mönchengladbach had won both the 1974-75 and 1975-76 seasons. Nevertheless, as three-time consecutive winner of the European Cup, Bayern was considered one of the favorites to win the league before the 1976-77 season started.

But Bayern had started off the season below average. By the 9th game of the season, Bayern had won just half of their games and was sitting in fourth place. A home game against ninth-place Schalke 04 should have been another step toward reducing the gap between them and first-place Borussia Mönchengladbach. Instead, Bayern suffered their largest Bundesliga defeat ever.

Bayern was 0-2 down in the first half, and it only became worse in the second. Klaus Fischer, a Bavarian-born striker who started his career in 1860 München, scored 4 goals in the game. Even today, Schalke fans still remind the Bayern fans of the time they humiliated one of Bayern Munich’s best sides ever at their own stadium.

Within the next couple of years, both Beckenbauer and Müller left for the United States and Maier’s career was ended by a car accident. Bayern had to be rebuilt without the core of a team that UEFA has labeled as one of the greatest of all time.

Renewed success eventually came. The 1980s were just around the corner.