After mesmerizing the world with their ‘total football’, the Netherlands reached the 1974 World Cup final
1974 World Cup final
The Netherlands got off to a perfect start in the final. Johan Neeskens put them 1-0 up from the penalty spot before a German player had even touched the ball. It seemed that they might go on to win by a landslide.
However, while the Dutch enjoyed plenty of the ball, they were unable to find a second goal. Rather than going for the kill, they were happy to toy with the Germans and try to humiliate them. They wanted the world to see how superior they were to their rivals.
This lack of ruthlessness came back to haunt them as the Germans were no mugs. They had word class stars such as Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Muller in their ranks and they steadily got back into the game.
By half time, West Germany were 2-1 up thanks to a penalty from Paul Breitner and a strike from Muller just before the break. It was virtually one way traffic in the second half as the Netherlands pushed for an equalizer but it wasn’t to be.
The Germans defended superbly and won the World Cup. Michels’ Netherlands are remembered as the greatest team never to be crowned World Champions.
After the World Cup
After the World Cup, Michels left the national team set up and re-joined Ajax. He only stayed for one season and was unable to recreate the magic of his first spell in charge. Ajax missed out on the title by three points finishing behind both PSV and Feyenoord.
Michels wasn’t finished yet though, he still had a few major trophies to win. The first of which was back at Barcelona. He had a second spell with the Catalans between 1976-78.
In the first season he took Barca to within a point of the title only to finish second to Atletico Madrid. The following season they also finished second in the league, this time to Real Madrid. The season did have its high points though as Barca won the Copa Del Rey.
Michels won his next major trophy when he was manager of FC Köln. He spent three years at the German club between 1980-83. In his final season he led them to victory in the DFB-Pokal, which is the German equivalent of the FA Cup. To date it is the last time that FC Köln have won the trophy. Winning the Netherlands’ only ever major trophy