5 Greatest Germany World Cup Goals
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Germany look set for qualification for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and could clinch an automatic spot on Friday depending on their performance against Ireland and the results of Sweden vs. Austria.
Having appeared in every World Cup since 1954, won three finals, finished runners-up four times and placed third on four occasions, Germany have plenty of history competing in international football's greatest and most prestigious competition. And accordingly, the Mannschaft have scored some outstanding goals.
As Germany close in on securing yet another World Cup appearance, we look back at five of the best goals the Mannschaft scored in previous tournaments. Significance of the goal was the most important factor considered, with secondary emphasis on the out-of-context beauty of the goal itself. Click "Begin Slideshow" to commence the countdown.
Paul Breitner: Netherlands 1-1 West Germany, 1974 World Cup Final
Midway through the first half of the 1974 World Cup final, West Germany were in serious trouble. The Netherlands of Johann Cruijff, who had overwhelmed their previous opponents with beautiful, total football, were ahead by a goal that had been scored before any German had even touched the ball.
Shocked, West Germany were against the ropes. But fortune came into their favor on 25 minutes when Bernd Hoelzenbein made an audacious and brilliant run into the box to earn a penalty. Paul Breitner stepped up to the spot and sent a low strike inside the left post.
Breitner's penalty was so well-struck that Dutch goalkeeper Jan Jongbloed could only stand flat-footed as the ball crossed the goal line. The goal was a turning point in the final, as an inspired Germany gathered their form and went on to win 2-1.
Andreas Brehme: West Germany 1-0 Argentina (1990 World Cup Final)
West Germany entered the 1990 World Cup final having suffered defeat in the same stage of the tournament in 1982 and 1986. In the most recent instance, they'd battled back from 2-0 down only to concede a late winner to Argentina. Having gone 16 years without lifting football's most coveted international trophy, it was high time the Mannschaft crossed the finish line.
Argentina entered the match with five players suspended and went down a man as Pedro Monzon was sent off in the 65th minute. Germany were the more ambitious team throughout the final as their opponents' makeshift team struggled to find their chemistry, but the match remained deadlocked until the 85th minute.
Roberto Sensini hauled down Rudi Voeller inside the penalty box, and Andreas Brehme netted the resulting spot-kick in the most cool and effective way: low and just inside the left post. It was a textbook penalty at a critical time in the match.
Had Brehme failed to convert and the match ended scoreless through 90 minutes, a replay would have been forced in which the five suspended Argentines would have been eligible; the match could easily have ended differently. But Brehme scored a textbook penalty that proved enough for Franz Beckenabauer's West Germany to lift the World Cup for the last time in its history.
Lothar Matthaeus: West Germany 3-1 Yugoslavia (1990 World Cup Group Stage)
Although its significance is far less than many of the other goals on this list, Lothar Matthaeus' second goal against Yugoslavia in the 1990 World Cup group stage is one of the most impressive ever scored at a World Cup.
After seeing his team go 2-0 down before the interval, sweeper Davor Jozic had pulled a goal back for Yugoslavia early in the second half. Matthaeus responded for West Germany nine minutes later with an outstanding individual effort.
After receiving the ball in his own half, the captain powered forward through the midfield, beating one defender for pace and dribbling around another. As he approached the final line of the Yugoslav defense he struck a powerful shot that skipped into the back of the net off a bounce to put the Germans ahead for good.
The result proved to be a key win for West Germany as three points against Yugoslavia ensured first place for the Mannschaft in their group.
Gerd Mueller: Netherlands 1-2 West Germany, 1954 World Cup Final
Perhaps the most significant goal of Gerd Mueller's illustrious career came in 1974, as the prolific striker gave West Germany the lead over the Netherlands in the World Cup final.
Scored just moments before halftime, the goal put the Mannschaft 2-1 ahead and was enough for West Germany to claim their second-ever World Cup trophy and first since 1954.
Mueller's goal was a stroke of pure genius not because of the actual finish, but because of how he freed himself from defenders. And it was so typical of a striker who inexplicably always knew how to change a match.
Rainer Bonhof used agility and pure acceleration to gain space to cross, but Mueller was cunning, and with his first touch played the ball in the least predictable place: directly away from goal. Mueller caught his marker off-guard, turned to the ball and delivered a low strike that proved to be his last for West Germany. A fitting end to an outstanding international career.
Helmut Rahn: West Germany 3-2 Hungary, 1954 World Cup Final
The greatest and most significant goal in the history of German football was the winner in the greatest and most significant win in the history of the national team: Helmut Rahn's late go-ahead goal in the 1954 World Cup final.
West Germany were heavy underdogs against the Hungary of Ferenc Puskas and Sandor Kocsis, and after eight minutes appeared to be headed for a humiliating defeat. Hungary were 2-0 up at the Wankdorf Stadium in an utter downpour. But they fought back and drew level 10 minutes later.
The two sides remained deadlocked until the 84th minute, when Rahn, who had equalized earlier, fielded the ball at the edge of the box, cut to the left and delivered a low strike inside the far post. Rahn's goal proved to be the winner in what was remembered as the "Miracle of Bern."
West Germany's triumph in the 1954 World Cup final was no ordinary win. It was a resounding reversal of Hungary's 8-3 win over the Mannschaft in the group stage, laying the foundation of modern German football and marking a turning point in the nation's post-World War II history.