EAST-WEST DIVIDE – Bayern and Dynamo battle it out on the biggest stage of all
Four decades ago today, the European Cup saw the culmination of it’s first ever all-German encounter, when Bayern Munich hosted Dynamo Dresden in the second leg of their second round clash at the Bavarian city’s Olimpiastadion. Football fans either side of the ‘Iron Curtain’ rejoiced as the two best teams from East and West Germany met for the first time in competitive competition. It was a tie to decide the German championship in everything but name.
From a political perspective, the two-legged encounter was seen very differently. It was a clash of two political systems in Germany and both sides took it very serious, especially the East. It was ‘We against Us.’
The draw, made in early October 1973, was a dream come true for many German football fans. On one side it was global superstars such as Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Müller and Sepp Maier, on the other a Dresden side made up of some of the most exciting young talent in East German football. Ahead of the first leg, Bayern coach Robert Schwan declared he would emigrate to the East should Bayern lose this tie. Bayern, although not the all-conquering side they are now, already commanded an arrogant swagger.
The first encounter, played at Munich’s Olimpiastadion, proved to be a major surprise for Bayern as their visitors took the lead twice, before finally succumbing to a 4-3 defeat in front of 50,000 partisan fans. Schwan’s side fell behind early on after an own goal from Johnny Hansen, before going 2-1 up by the half hour mark. Both of Bayern’s first half goes were fortuitous to say the least – the first had a whiff of off side while their second bounced off the inside of the far post after Dürnberger had shot from the edge of the box.
Despite falling behind, Dresden rallied and hit two goals in seven minutes to god into the halftime break with a 3-2 lead. Bayern were largely out-played by a young Dresden side during the opening 45 minutes, the side from the East oozing confidence after dispatching Juventus in the previous round and who by and large have been criminally under estimated by Bayern.
The second half saw Bayern in the ascendency and Franz ‘the bull’ Roth levelled the score with 20 minutes to play after a moment of confusion in the Dresden penalty box. Finally, it was Gerd Müller who scored the winning goal for Bayern in the 83rd minute. In typical poacher manner, Der Bomber pushed the ball over the line within the six yard box. Bayern were lucky to get away with a win and had to survive a scary night.
Despite losing, the high scoring 4-3 defeat gave Dresden a superb position for the return leg in early November, however the game is steeped in controversy – for all the wrong reasons. It was all about politics, and nothing about football. Things began with the ticket allocation. Dresden’s Rudolf-Harbig-Stadion had a capacity of roughly 36,000, nonetheless of those only 8,000 were available for fans and supporters. The majority was given to the Stasi and other deserving ‘comrades’.
Bayern added further fuel to the political storm by arriving only on match day in Dresden, despite UEFA regulations demanding that travelling teams has to arrive a day before the match. The Bavarians thought differently and stayed over night in Hof to ‘acclimatise’ (Dresden’s lower altitude in comparison to Munich was said to be problematic, or so it was claimed by Bayern officials.)
However, the truth behind the move was that Beyern were wary of ‘dirty tricks’. A few years earlier Bayern’s Uli Hoeness and Paul Breitner played at a youth tournament in Leipzig where they suffered gastro-enteritis. Many believed the cause of the sickness was deliberate poisoning by East German officials. Of course nothing was proven, however fear remained and Bayern felt safer staying in Hof ‘adapting to lower altitude’. Dresden’s formal complaint to UEFA was denied and the game went on as planned.
It has since been revealed that the away dressing room was bugged in an attempt to give the home side the upper hand over Bayern, and a piece of paper containing the Bavarian’s line-up and tactics was handed to Dresden coach, Walter Fritzsch. With this advantage gained, East German officials were confident the one goal deficit could be overturned during the match.
After being pushed to the limit in the first encounter, Bayern made sure they were not caught out this time around, putting Hoeness up front instead of Müller, who played in midfield. This forced the Dynamo defence out of shape. The ploy worked and within 15 minutes, the visitors were 2-0 up and coasting. Twice Hoeness managed to escape Eduard Geyer who was said to be in tears at half-time, twice he scored.
Yet, once more Dresden came back. Siegmar Wätzlich pulled one goal back just before the break and Hartmut Schade level the scores in the 52nd minute. Then just four minutes later, Reinhard Häfner made it 3-2 to the East Germans with a shot from the edge of the penalty area. The goal put Dynamo on the brink of a dramatic qualification to the quarter finals, and a famous victory over their more illustrious rivals from the west.
The scoring was not finished however. Just four minutes after Häfner had put the home side ahead, Gerd Muller struck to level the scores. It was a strike that would prove enough to see Bayern progress. They then went on to win their first-ever European Cup while Dresden continued to dominate the East German league in the 1970s.
The two teams were to meet again in the 1993 DFB-Pokal in with Dynamo securing a surprise 2-1 victory in front of more than 23,000 spectators at the Rudolf-Harbig-Stadion. However, forty years since the sides met in European football’s top club competition, their paths could not have gone in more opposite directions. Dynamo currently find themselves in German football’s second tier, having plunged to the depths of the country’s regional leagues for much of its recent history.
Bayern Munich meanwhile, are now arguably the greatest side in world football. Their 7-0 aggregate triumph over the previously-lauded Barcelona in last season’s Champions League saw them reach a record tenth final, where they beat compatriots Borussia Dortmund at London’s Wembley Stadium.
Germany as a country is also much changed from the day’s when East met West on the football field. However, those old enough to remember the 1973 season will have fond memories of the two-legged encounter that saw the best teams from either side of the ‘iron curtain’ battle it out on the biggest stage in European football.