The history of the FIFA World Cup ™ is punctuated with extraordinary matches that linger in the memory decades later. The semi-final of Spain 82 between West Germany and France is one such match - indeed it must go down as one of the most exciting games of football ever.
French flair versus German team-spirit
This clash of styles between two diametrically opposed schools of football was nothing new: for twenty years or more, classy French sides had pitched their talent against German teams epitomising the will to win, determination and fighting spirit. With captain Michel Platini pulling the strings in midfield it was clear right from the outset that the French would have the technical edge over a typically solid German outfit. Led out by captain Manfred Kaltz, the Mannschaft set out their defensive stall early on, allowing the French to mount a series of raids on Toni Schumacher's goal.
Littbarski finds the back of the net
Pierre Littbarski gave the French their first scare when his sweetly struck free-kick came back off a post. But the tricky winger did not have to wait long before opening the score, smashing home a volley beyond the grasp of French keeper Jean-Luc Ettori from 25 yards out. Ettori had palmed out a shot from Klaus Fischer, but when the ball fell to Littbarski, he made no mistake.
The French responded by laying siege to Schumacher's goal. Michel Platini, Dominique Rocheteau and Alain Giresse had the German defence, marshalled by Uli Stielike, on the back foot, and it was no surprise when Rocheteau went down in the box and Platini stepped up to give the German keeper no chance from the resulting penalty.
Schumacher flattens Battiston
As the teams headed for the dressing rooms at the break with the score at 1-1, the 70,000 fans in Seville at last had time to take breath and prepare for the high drama that was about to unfold. The most controversial, and still talked-about incident of the game came mid-way through the second half, when Platini's lofted through ball sent substitute Patrick Battiston in for a run on goal. Just as Battiston leapt for the ball, Toni Schumacher rushed from his area and collided with the French defender. As the French medical staff attended to the unconscious player, Schumacher retreated to the edge of the box and began a series of stretching exercises that incensed the French fans. When Dutch referee Charles Corver failed to sanction the German keeper, or even give a free-kick, French fans were outraged, greeting Schumacher's every touch with a chorus of whistles for the rest of the encounter.
As the game moved towards extra time, the French went for the jugular, and Jupp Derwall's team were forced into employing strong-arm tactics to repel the waves of attacks that were threatening to breach their defence. In the 83rd minute, Manuel Amoros hit the bar when given a free sight on goal, but it was West Germany who hit back in the closing minutes, with first Breitner and then Förster forcing Ettori into saves.
Despite both team's best efforts, the score remained locked at 1-1 as the match went into extra-time, but within two minutes of the restart, Marius Tresor swung his boot at a free-kick curled in from the right hand edge of the box and, from 12 yards out, left Schumacher grasping at thin air. West German coach Jupp Derwall did not hang around. Off came Hans-Peter Briegel, who had run himself into the ground, to be replaced by goal-poacher Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
France were not intent on sitting back on their lead. Just seven minutes after Trésor's bullet, Alain Giresse made it 3-1, whipping the ball home from the edge of the box. West Germany were reeling, and when Klaus Fischer's goal straight from the restart was disallowed for off-side, most teams would have given up. But not the Germans, and when Rummenigge popped up to make it 2-3 just before the break in extra-time, it was game on again.
It was left to Klaus Fischer to bring the two teams level again, and what a great goal it was. His bicycle kick in the 108th minute came out of nowhere, and suddenly, incredibly, West Germany had come back from two goals down to force a penalty shoot-out.
Alain Giresse was first up for France. With apparent relish, he rifled an unstoppable shot into the corner of the net and France were off the mark (1-0). German captain Manfred Kaltz promptly equalised (1-1). Amoros for France, Breitner for Germany and then Rocheteau for France all scored with ease before Uli Stielike was foiled by French keeper Ettori. The German defender slumped to the floor in tears as his team-mates tried to console him.
Then it was Frenchman Didier Six's turn to be let down by his nerves. Schumacher's presence seemed suddenly to be growing with each passing second. Littbarski, Platini and Rummenigge all converted their spot kicks before Bossis ambled up to take the last penalty for Les Bleus. The defender's shot was weak and Schumacher, who had anticipated the direction, was there to make the all-important save. It was now Germany's game to lose.
Horst Hrubesch, best known for his ability in the air, had the heady responsibility of taking the last spot-kick for Germany. He stepped up and confidently beat Ettori to score the deciding goal (5-4). Germany had reached the 1982 FIFA World Cup ™ Final
Platini in tears
While the Germans celebrated, the exhausted French fell to the floor and wept. This was the one defeat that the great French side of the 80s would never really digest. "If only we had realised how good we were," Platini is quoted as saying, "we would never have lost that game".
French flair and technique wasn't quite enough to qualify them for the Final. The German game, built on discipline and hard-work, had won the day. For the fourth time in its history, the Mannschaft now had a fifty-fifty chance of lifting the FIFA World Cup ™.