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Ranking Germany's 30 Greatest World Cup Moments

Clark WhitneyFeatured ColumnistMay 25, 2014

Ranking Germany's 30 Greatest World Cup Moments

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    Anonymous/Associated Press

    The 2014 World Cup in Brazil is just weeks away, and Germany have already begun their pre-tournament preparations in Tirol.

    The Mannschaft have a rich history competing in international football's greatest competition, having qualified for every World Cup since 1954 and only failing to participate in the tournament's 1930 and 1950 installments.

    Ahead of Germany's quest for a fourth World Cup title, B/R has compiled a list of the 30 greatest and most memorable World Cup moments. The list was compiled based on historical significance and is presented in descending order, starting with No. 30.

    Click "Begin Slideshow" to commence the countdown.

30) Germany Win First World Cup Match After Reunification, 1994

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    In late 1990, it seemed that nothing could go wrong for Germany: The West German team had just won the World Cup and the fall of the Berlin Wall meant that East and West Germany were at long last reunited.

    The reunification allowed the likes of Ulf Kirsten and future European Footballer of the Year Matthias Sammer to join an already star-studded team from the former West. Franz Beckenbauer famously believed (via The Telegraph) that "a united Germany, adding all the talent from the East, will become unstoppable."

    Germany played their first match after reunification in December of 1990, but it was not until 1994 that the team competed in the World Cup. In that match with Bolivia, Jurgen Klinsmann made the difference, scoring the winner on 61 minutes. Sammer played in midfield in an otherwise all-western team.

    Their win in their first match of the 1994 World Cup as a good start for Germany, but the reunited Germans would later be upset by Hristo Stoichkov's Bulgaria in the quarter-finals.

29) Germany Down Belgium in Inaugural World Cup Match

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    Germany were not present at the first World Cup, but they qualified for the second in 1934. At the time, the tournament was much smaller than it currently is and had no group stage, beginning instead with the round of 16.

    Their first-ever match came against Belgium in Florence. Stanislaus Kobierski scored Germany's first-ever World Cup goal before Bernard Voorhoof netted a brace that put the Belgians 2-1 ahead at half-time. Otto Stiffling restored parity on 49 minutes before Edmund Conen's 21-minute hat-trick propelled Germany to the quarter-finals.

28) Beckenbauer Makes Dream Debut Against Rivals Switzerland

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    Before he became a legendary sweeper and two-time Ballon d'Or winner, Franz Beckenbauer was a world-class midfielder. In 1966, a 20-year-old Beckenbauer deployed in central midfield competed in his first World Cup, less than nine months after his international debut.

    Facing a Switzerland team that always has had a bone to pick with their neighbours, Beckenbauer had a dream World Cup debut with the Mannschaft, scoring twice in a 5-0 win. As with fellow German legends Miroslav Klose and Gerd Muller, his tournament bow was a preview of good things to come.

27) Klose Gets off the Mark in Style, 2002

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    Germany's 2002 World Cup team was known for being more effective than talented, but their performance in their group stage opener would suggest otherwise. The Mannschaft hammered Saudi Arabia 8-0 thanks to goals from six players, including a hat-trick by Miroslav Klose.

    The match marked Klose's World Cup debut, and the Poland-born striker scored the first two goals of the match as well as the fifth as Germany coasted to victory. It was the start of good things to come for Klose, whose tally of 14 World Cup goals is only surpassed by Ronaldo.

26) Oliver Kahn Becomes First Goalkeeper to Be Named Best Player at a World Cup

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    Many great goalkeepers have featured at World Cups over the decades, but only one has been named the tournament's best player: Oliver Kahn.

    Der Titan was in the form of his life in 2002. He had been named Man of the Match in the Champions League final a year prior thanks to his heroics in Bayern Munich's penalty shootout win over Valencia. In 2001 and 2002, he placed third in the European Footballer of the Year voting, and he was runner-up for FIFA World Player of the Year in 2002.

    For conceding just one goal before the final at the 2002 World Cup (he conceded two in the final), Kahn was named the tournament's best player ahead of top scorer and Brazil hero Ronaldo. To date, the legendary shot-stopper remains the only goalkeeper to have earned the honour.

25) West Germany Beat What Appeared to Be a Swedish Club Team in 1958

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    If colour television were around, anyone tuning in to West Germany's match with Argentina in the 1958 World Cup group stage without paying attention to the commentary would have done a double take. The supposed Argentine team didn't wear their traditional light blue and white, vertically striped kits, they instead donned the solid yellow shirts of Swedish club Malmo.

    The reason for this strange occurrence was that Argentina had forgotten to pack their kits. As such, their only option was to wear the colours of Malmo, the club team based in the stadium in which the match was to be played.

    It took just three minutes for Argentina to take the lead, with Omar Corbatta netting the opener. West Germany recovered, however, and won comfortably thanks to a brace by Helmut Rahn and another goal from Uwe Seeler.

24) West Germany Book First Finale After Hammering Austria

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    West Germany's demolition of Turkey in the 1954 World Cup group stage was a pivotal turning point in the Mannschaft's fortunes, but their triumph in the final may not have been possible without the morale-boosting drubbing of nearby rivals Austria in the semi-finals.

    The Germans beat their neighbors 6-1 in their penultimate fixture of the tournament, their margin of victory being 2.5 times their next-best result in a semi-final. Hans Schafer opened the scoring after 31 minutes, giving the Mannschaft a half-time lead. After the break, Max Morlock and Austria's Erich Probst traded early goals before brothers Fritz and Ottmar Walter added a brace apiece to round off an emphatic victory for the eventual cup winners.

23) Future Captain Lahm Inspires Germany to Win in World Cup Opener

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    Heading into the 2006 World Cup on home soil, Germany were by no means among the favorites..

    Jurgen Klinsmann had some players of known quality in his team alongside several unproven youngsters, such as Per Mertesacker, Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and the tournament's Best Young Player, Lukas Podolski.

    Exactly how the young German team would react under the pressure of playing in a World Cup was uncertain, but their 4-1 drubbing by Italy shortly before the tournament meant that expectations were not very high.

    Philipp Lahm made a statement in his first World Cup match, scoring a rare and beautiful goal against Costa Rica within the first six minutes to send the fans in Munich wild. Germany would go on to win the match 4-2.

    Lahm has always been known as a quiet leader, one whose leadership is shown by example. With his goal, the local hero set the tone for Germany's World Cup campaign as other youngsters like Podolski and Schweinsteiger stepped to the fore and delivered some match-winning performances.

22) West Germany Edge Austria to Claim Third Place in Inaugural World Cup

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    Germany is best known for winning the World Cup three times (only Italy and Brazil have been crowned world champions on more occasions), but the Mannschaft are superlative when it comes to finishing runners-up and third. Germany have been beaten in the final on four occasions, and in four other tournaments they've bowed out in the semi-final and later claimed third.

    Therefore, it is perhaps fitting that in their first-ever World Cup appearance, in 1934, Germany finished third.

    Facing neighbours Austria, the Germans had a dream start thanks to Ernst Lehner, who scored within the opening minute. Edmund Conen added a second that was immediately cancelled out by Austria's Johann Horvath on 28 minutes. Lehner restored the Germans' two-goal lead before the break, and Austria were only able to pull one back through Karl Sesta before full-time.

21) Podolski Named Best Young Player

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    For Germany, the 2006 World Cup will be remembered as a celebration of the Bundesliga's revamped academy system. After humiliations at Euro 2000 and Euro 2004 and several years with little talent emerging from the youth ranks, Germany finally had something to give them hope for the future.

    There were several young Germans who made their mark in 2006, but the best was Lukas Podolski. The then-21-year-old scored three goals at the tournament, including two that saw Germany past Sweden in the round of 16. For his efforts, the then-Koln man pipped Cristiano Ronaldo to the Best Young Player award. Not a bad way to get his career off the ground.

20) A Legend Is Born: Gerd Muller Nets Second Consecutive Hat-Trick

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    Gerd Muller participated in his first World Cup at the age of 24 in 1970. He started the tournament well, scoring the winner in a 2-1 victory over Morocco.

    He took a big step in West Germany's next game, netting a hat-trick in a 5-2 win against Bulgaria.

    West Germany's third and final group stage match against Peru would see Muller make a giant leap into superstardom. The prolific striker netted a hat-trick within 20 minutes during the first half, stunning the South American side as the Mannschaft cruised to a 3-1 win.

    Muller is one of just two players (the other being Sandor Kocsis) to score hat-tricks in consecutive World Cup games, and one of just four players to net two hat-tricks in his World Cup career overall. His three goals against Peru raised his tally to seven in the tournament; he'd score three more in the knockout rounds and win the golden boot, despite West Germany being eliminated in the semi-final.

19) West Germany Rebound from Hungary Humiliation with Turkey Trouncing, 1954

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    In their second match in the 1954 World Cup, West Germany were utterly humiliated by Hungary. The resounding tournament favorites were 8-3 winners in that match, and they took only 21 minutes to go 3-0 ahead. Two of Germany's goals came late, with the Hungarians 7-1 up. It was a rout.

    Many teams would have completely lost hope, but Sepp Herberger's side, captained by the legendary Fritz Walter, rebounded just three days later with an emphatic, 7-2 victory over Turkey. Max Morlock bagged a hat-trick, Hans Schafer a brace and brothers Fritz and Ottmar Walter added a goal apiece in a display of dominance that equalled Hungary's control over the Germans in their previous match.

    At the time, West Germany's win over Turkey may not have seemed very significant. But, in hindsight, it was exactly what the Mannschaft needed to drive them forward with confidence. They comfortably beat Yugoslavia and Austria in the knockout rounds before earning an improbable victory over Hungary in the final.

18) Muller Decisive as West Germany Pip Poland to 1974 Final

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    Heading into the last matchday of the 1974 World Cup's second group stage, West Germany and Poland were level on points atop Group B. As a result, the two faced off in what essentially amounted to a semi-final because the tournament format featured no knockout rounds before the final and third-place play-off.

    Germany and Poland have always had somewhat of a rivalry for political reasons, and the Poles had a strong team with tournament top scorer Grzegorz Lato and runner-up Andrzej Szarmach their dangermen.

    Gerd Muller, who finished tied for fourth among the tournament's top scorers, was ultimately the difference maker for the Mannschaft in what was a very close match. He found the net in the 76th minute, ensuring West Germany's progression to the final.

17) East Meets West Germany: 1974

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    An oft-forgotten part of the history of German football is the East Germany team. Founded in 1952, the DFV's team only competed in one major senior-level international tournament before its dissolution in 1990: the 1974 World Cup.

    In their 38-year history, East and West Germany only met a handful of times, one of which happened to be in the group stage of the 1974 World Cup. Both sides had qualified for the knockout rounds heading into the match, but the East pipped the West to first place in Group 1 thanks to Jurgen Sparwasser's 77th-minute winner.

    The result and events on the pitch took a back seat to what was a primarily political match. The two halves of Germany had only officially recognized one another two years prior, and the encounter between their respective football teams drew attention from those on both sides of the Berlin Wall.

    Concerned by the possibility of dissidents supporting the West, East Germany sent just 1,500 hand-picked fans to the match in Hamburg. Although the game saw the strongest-ever West German team face an East German side with representatives from Cup Winners' Cup holders Magdeburg, what they and some 58,500 other fans saw was a relatively lacklustre affair.

16) Germans Hammer England After an Unallowed "Wembley-Tor"

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    Some say that karma can take a long time to come around. In England's case it may have taken 44 years for their debt to be collected for Geoff Hurst's controversially allowed goal against West Germany in the 1966 World Cup final.

    In 2010, England met Germany in the round of 16. Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski had the Germans cruising toward progression with a pair of goals inside 32 minutes, but Matthew Upson pulled one back for an England side that rallied brilliantly before the half-time break.

    Upson's goal was followed just two minutes later by a strike that should have counted for England: Frank Lampard hammered a long-ranged effort off the underside of the crossbar that landed over the line before goalkeeper Manuel Neuer grabbed the ball and continued to play. Referee Jorge Larrionda allowed play to continue as England protested.

    Thomas Muller proceeded to score twice in the second half to hand Germany a comfortable, if controversial, win.

15) West Germany Beat the Dutch One Last Time

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    Most of Germany's neighbours have extra motivation when taking on the Mannschaft, either for cultural or political reasons. But from a German perspective, the likes of Switzerland, Poland and Austria are not rivals of Germany in the same manner as, for example, Brazil and Argentina.

    Germany's only neighbour that is seen as a true rival is the Netherlands. Since the 1974 World Cup final, the two sides have consistently been fierce and bitter rivals.

    For the last time before reunification, West Germany met Netherlands at the 1990 World Cup in the round of 16. It was only the second time that the two rivals had met since the 1974 final, a 2-2 draw in the 1978 second group stage being the other.

    After a goalless first half, the Germans quickly made their mark. Jurgen Klinsmann put them ahead on 51 minutes and Andreas Brehme sealed the result with a stunning, curling effort from the corner of the penalty box. The Dutch pulled a goal back with a penalty that had been controversially awarded, but the decision would not affect the result of the match, which ended 2-1 in favor of the Germans.

    Sadly, the match is perhaps best remembered for Netherlands' Frank Rijkaard spitting on Rudi Voller.

14) Thomas Muller Crowned Top Scorer as Germany Finish Third

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    It was said by some that Germany's 2014 World Cup team made it to the 2010 semi-final. And with the 2014 World Cup final squads to be finalised in a matter of days, it seems such predictions were not exactly far-fetched after all.

    Partly out of necessity due to a blight of injuries and partly due to the uncommonly high quality of youth at his disposal, Joachim Low relied heavily upon young players at the 2010 World Cup. Thomas Muller was not especially flashy, but was certainly the best. It was in his absence through suspension that Germany were knocked out by Spain. But the then-20-year-old Muller returned for the third place match with Uruguay.

    At the time, Muller and his opponent, Diego Forlan, were tied for third on the list of Golden Boot candidates behind joint-top scorers David Villa and Wesley Sneijder. Muller struck first to put Germany ahead before Edinson Cavani equalized. Forlan then put Uruguay ahead before Marcell Jansen and Sami Khedira scored to win the game for Germany.

    Muller finished level with Sneijder, Villa and Forlan with five goals, but the German's three assists were his trump card, sealing the golden boot in his favour. He ended the tournament with more goals for a player under 20 than anyone since Pele. Like with Lukas Podolski's receipt of the Best Young Player award four years prior, Muller's award of the same honour, as well as the Golden Boot, was yet another glowing endorsement of the DFB's model of promoting young talent.

13) Schweinsteiger Leads Germany to Third Place in 2006

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    As previously mentioned, Germany's success at the 2006 World Cup was by all accounts unexpected. It is for that reason that their finishing third is considered a resounding success.

    Despite the crippling depression that haunted the German dressing room after their semi-final defeat to Italy, a Germany side with four changes in its line-up came out swinging against Portugal. After a scoreless first half, Bastian Schweinsteiger scored in the 56th minute and four minutes later had his free-kick was redirected into the Portuguese net by Petit. The then-21-year-old Schweinsteiger added a third on 78 minutes before Nuno Gomes scored a late consolation goal for the Portuguese.

    The Germans' resilience after such a devastating defeat and their ability to gather their strength after 120 long minutes against Italy spoke well of their pride and confidence. Their performance was especially telling of the quality of a young, new generation who found their leaders in the likes of Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm in the absence of captain Michael Ballack.

12) Four Years After Controversy, West Germany Convincingly Beat France

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    West Germany's defeat of France in the 1982 World Cup semi-final was a fantastic match overshadowed by an incident in which goalkeeper Harald Schumacher was controversially neither sent off nor even reprimanded for a reckless and despicable challenge that left Patrick Battiston in a coma.

    Four years later, the Mannschaft met les Bleus in the semi-final once again. But the result of the 1986 clash was not marred by the same kind of controversy as before. Andreas Brehme put the Germans ahead after just nine minutes, and although France managed to stay in the match until the death, Rudi Voller added a second goal with one minute left to be played as West Germany advanced to the final.

    It was a big result for the Germans, as they asserted themselves as contenders, and although they failed to win either final in 1982 and 1986, their momentum helped their third attempt come to fruition in 1990.

11) Kahn and Lehmann Settle Differences, Team Up to Beat Argentina on Penalties

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    When Argentina and Germany met in the 2006 quarter-finals, the Germans were heavy underdogs despite playing on home soil at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.

    After a scoreless first half, Roberto Ayala put Argentina ahead on 49 minutes, and the Albiceleste looked to be on course for the semi-final until Miroslav Klose nodded in a late equalizer. The game eventually went to penalties, in which Germany were victorious under rather dubious circumstances.

    Goalkeeper Oliver Kahn, the winner of the Golden Ball at the 2002 World Cup, had been controversially demoted to reserve under coach Jurgen Klinsmann. And the Bayern Munich man was not at all pleased with the trainer's decision. To his credit, Kahn didn't sulk. Instead, he came to his teammate's aid.

    Before the shootout, Kahn handed Lehmann a sheet of paper containing information about the Argentine penalty takers. The Arsenal goalkeeper saved two out of four spot-kicks; the Germans converted all of theirs and advanced to the semi-final.

10) Future Captain Matthaus Makes His Mark, 1986

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    Lothar Matthaus' international career began in 1980 and ended in 2000. No Germany international had a longer career than the legendary midfielder-turned-sweeper, whose 150 caps for the Mannschaft remains superlative to this day.

    The year 1986 marked Matthaus' second World Cup. Then aged 25 and not yet a captain, he emerged as a leader, particularly in West Germany's round of 16 match with Morocco. With the score still 0-0 in the 87th minute, he hammered a low free-kick from distance into the lower-right corner to send the Mannschaft into the quarter-finals.

    Although West Germany were eventually beaten by Argentina in the final, Matthaus would be named captain the next year, and he led his country to victory in their rematch with the Argentines in the 1990 final.

9) "Ball Boy" Muller Gets His Revenge in Argentina Thrashing

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    Argentina at the 2010 World Cup are remembered as a failure—a team led by a tactically incompetent Diego Maradona. In fairness, though, this reputation only came after they were dismantled by Germany in the quarter-final.

    Heading into that match, the South Americans were very well regarded after winning all three group matches by an aggregate 7-1 margin and beating Mexico 3-1 in the round of 16.

    The Albiceleste were among the World Cup favorites and were quite cocky before the tournament, with Maradona labeling Thomas Muller a "ball boy" and refusing to partake in a press conference with the then-20-year-old when the teams met in a friendly three months before the World Cup kicked off.

    Muller turned insult into motivation and humbled Maradona when Argentina met Germany in the quarter-finals. It took less than three minutes for the tournament's eventual top scorer to nod in the opener and Germany hammered their opponents 4-0. So heavy was the loss for Argentina that all the good Maradona had done prior to that match was erased. He stepped down two days later.

8) Germany Beat England on Penalties, 1990 Semi-Final

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    In England, Germany have a reputation for being stubborn, hard-nosed and ruthlessly efficient on the football pitch—especially in penalty shootouts.

    There is a famous quote by Gary Lineker: "Football is a simple game: 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win." The retired striker's words came after his England side had been beaten by West Germany on penalties in the 1990 World Cup semi-final.

    In that match, Andreas Brehme put the Germans ahead on 60 minutes before Lineker equalized with 10 minutes left to play. The match eventually went to penalties, in which the Germans scored all four and Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle missed England's final two spot-kicks. West Germany, with their reputation as mental titans, would go on to beat Argentina in the final.

7) Germany Recover from Hardest-Ever Loss to Claim Third Place

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    West Germany's loss to Italy in the 1970 semi-final was most likely their hardest-ever defeat.

    In what was later dubbed the "Match of the Century," the Mannschaft trailed for 82 minutes before Karl-Heinz Schnellinger scored a last-gasp equalizer to force extra time. In extra time, Germany led, fell behind, equalized and finally lost after Gianni Rivera made it 4-3 in the 111th minute. It was an emotional roller coaster and was incredibly draining both mentally and physically.

    Three days later, West Germany took on Uruguay in the third-place play-off. Wolfgang Overath scored the only goal of the game on 26 minutes as the exhausted Mannschaft held on.

    There was of course plenty of disappointment that came with going out in the semi-final, but finishing third at least offered some consolation.

6) West Germany Avenge 1966 Final Loss to England

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    For many Germans, the 1966 World Cup final is remembered in infamy.

    Played at Wembley between hosts England and West Germany, the game went to extra time deadlocked at 2-2. Then, in the 101st minute, England's Geoff Hurst smacked the ball off the underside of the crossbar and onto the goal line before it was cleared. Although the ball never crossed the line, it was declared a goal. Hurst added another in the 120th minute with spectators already on the pitch celebrating.

    To this day, the term "Wembley-Tor" (Wembley goal) is used in Germany to describe any goal in which the ball strikes the underside of the bar and sharply turns downward. On the bright side, the Germans have since dominated head-to-head meetings with England, and they were able to take revenge just four years after their controversial loss.

    As in 1966, West Germany and England had to go to extra time after a 2-2 draw over the course of 90 minutes. This time around, it was Gerd Muller who broke the deadlock, and this time there was no controversy. The Germans held on for a 3-2 win, victory all the sweeter after what had happened at Wembley four years prior.

5) Heartbroken Ballack Ends South Korean Dreams, 2002

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    Germany's run to the 2002 World Cup final was an improbable one by all accounts, and it's a true shame that the Mannschaft had to face Brazil without their inspirational leader, Michael Ballack.

    Ballack and Germany faced a similarly unfavored South Korea in the semi-final. The co-hosts had benefited from several dubious refereeing decisions en route to the penultimate match, edging Italy after extra time and beating Spain in penalties in the quarter-final. Guus Hiddink's side had arguably more manageable opposition in the semi-final, but the Germans held strong.

    With the score still 0-0, tragedy struck for Germany in the 71st minute. Ballack was issued a yellow card that confirmed he would not play in the final if his team were to advance.

    Many would have lost their nerve, and indeed some have even broken down on the pitch under similar circumstances. Ballack, who had put Germany through to the semi-final by scoring the winner against the United States, kept a stiff upper lip and netted the only goal of the match minutes later.

4) West Germany Come Back from Two Goals Behind in Extra Time Against France

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    The 1982 World Cup semi-final between West Germany and France was an epic encounter, one that sadly is remembered more for Harald Schumacher's non-sending off for his challenge on Patrick Battiston than for the amazing comeback the Germans made in extra time.

    With the score 1-1 at full-time, France soon 3-1 ahead following a pair of top-class goals by Marius Tresor and Alain Giresse. Germany were fatigued and faced a mountain to climb, but came back to force penalties. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge pulled on back on 102 minutes and Klaus Fischer equalized with an acrobatic, overhead kick in the 108th minute.

    The Germans won the ensuing penalty shootout 5-4, sending them to the final. The match was a classic plug for the phrase "never count out the Germans" and an exhibition of how enough grit and guile could lead an inspired team to do seemingly anything.

3) Beckenbauer Wins the World Cup Again, 1990

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    The 1986 World Cup final was heartbreaking for a West Germany side that had rallied from a 2-0 deficit to equalize against Argentina before Jorge Burruchaga put the South Americans ahead for good six minutes from full time.

    Four years later, the two sides met again in the final. And again, it was a close match only decided in the closing minutes. Argentina had twice advanced via penalty shootout before the final, and despite the presence of legendary forward Diego Maradona, they had only had one shot on target.

    West Germany had the brilliant Lothar Matthaus to thank for nullifying Maradona and would only deliver the fatal blow five minutes from full-time after Rudi Voller had drawn a penalty. Andreas Brehme fired home the spot-kick for the only goal of the match.

    It's rare that a national team has the chance to play a rematch of a final in the next tournament, but West Germany were fortunate enough to draw Argentina in the 1990 final. And, led by coach Franz Beckenbauer, they took their chance with aplomb.

2) West Germany Beat Oranje Rivals in 1974 Final

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    Four years after their heartbreak in the "Match of the Century" against Italy, West Germany powered their way to the World Cup final on home soil.

    The final pitted perhaps the best-ever German side against the best-ever Dutch team. Despite conceding from a penalty before any of their players had touched the ball, the Mannschaft rallied to win 2-1.

    The 1974 final was especially significant for West Germany in that it affirmed the quality of players like Franz Beckenbauer and man of the match Gerd Muller, who are now regarded as legends. It made the Germans the first-ever team to hold the European Championship and World Cup simultaneously, a feat that has only been twice repeated since then.

    It proved that the German team of the early 1970s was indeed their best ever.

1) The "Miracle of Bern"

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    Of all of Germany's great World Cup moments, none can compare with their victory over Hungary in the 1954 final. Dubbed the "Miracle of Bern," the result was indeed miraculous, a victory over opposition that had steamrollered West Germany in the group stage.

    When the teams met in their second fixture of the tournament, Hungary were 8-3 winners and advanced to the knockout rounds having scored 17 goals in two games. They steamrollered Brazil and Uruguay in the knockout rounds, adding four goals in each going into the final.

    Germany, on the other hand, qualified for the knockout rounds via play-off, and despite handily beating Yugoslavia and Austria en route to the final, they were still regarded as underdogs.

    They found themselves 2-0 behind within eight minutes, chasing the game on a pitch in awful shape due to heavy rain.

    Incredibly, Max Morlock and Helmut Rahn struck to level the score within 10 minutes and the Mannschaft managed an improbable winner in the 84th minute. The heavily unfancied Germans had somehow beaten the Hungary of Ferenc Puskas and Sandor Kocsis.

    Victory in the World Cup final marked a turning point in the history of post-World War II Germany and set the foundation for German football culture.

    To this day, coach Sepp Herberger and captain Fritz Walter are remembered as national heroes, the latter having been named Germany's "Golden Player" (the best out of the previous 50 years in honour of the 50th anniversary of UEFA's founding) in 2003.

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