Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Greatest World Cup matches: Algeria-West Germany (1982)

The match between Algeria and West Germany in 1982 is perhaps as much remembered for the later match in the group between West Germany and Austria, one of the most disgraceful matches in world cup history that effectively left the charming Algerian team out of the world cup in what smelled awfully as a fixed match between the two Germanic teams. But to put the West Germany-Austria match as one of the greatest matches would be a crime against all other football matches in history (one Spanish paper properly wrote about this match under their crime-pages). Instead, Algeria’s memorable first match against West Germany is what should be written about. Before Algeria’s too early exit, the North Africans had been the first African team to defeat a European side in the World Cup. This happened only four years after Tunisia, in the 1978 World Cup, had been the first African team to win a match when they had defeated Mexico 3-1 in Argentina.
Nobody really expected that Algeria, who were participating in their first World Cup ever, had a chance in their opening match against the reigning European champions of West Germany and their many stars, such as the veteran Paul Breitner, Hamburg’s extraordinary header Horst Hrubesch, Bayern Munich’s Karl Heinz Rummenigge (European footballer of the year in 1981 and 1982) and the young FC Köln talent Pierre Littbarski, as the teams drew each other in the first round group 2 together with Austria and Chile.
The opening match was thus important for the Algerians who played one of the best games in their lives, and in a very entertaining match managed to pull one of the greatest upsets in World Cup history.
First half had been quite tactical, with the Germans dominating, and with most observers thinking that the Europeans champions, in spite of the lack of goals, would in the second half have no problem scoring, as first half ended 0-0. However, the Algerians came out to the second half with renewed energy and faith in their abilities and started using their quick counter-attacking players as the Germans quietly pressed forward. Nine minutes into the second half this bore fruit, when Djamel Zidane (no relation to the later French superstar) made an excellent pass that completely tore through the German defense, putting the outstanding Lakhdar Belloumi alone with Harald Schumacher. The German goalkeeper managed to deflect the shot with his foot, but the ball bounced to Rabah Madjer, the later FC Porto star, who made no mistake and surprisingly brought Algeria ahead.
The Germans now put more pressure and player harsher. Horst Hrubesch and Karl Heinz Rummennigge both had chances before the latter equalized for West Germany when he pushed in a good cross from Felix Magath. But only one minute after the equalizer Algeria went ahead again on a goal that looked almost like a copy of Rummennigge’s a minute earlier: the excellent technical player, Salah Assad, combined on the right side of attack and rushing to the back-line made a perfect cross to Lakhdar Belloumi in front of the goal, who scored what would be Algeria’s winning goal.
Lakhdar Belloumi is still considered one of the greatest stars of Algerian football of all time, but in spite of many big European clubs trying to lure him to Europe, he always remained in his hometown club GCR Mascara.
The last part of the match was both very entertaining and hectic. West Germany attacked while the Algerians defended heroically. Horst Hrubesch had a goal annulled, while Rummennigge hit the post and goalkeeper Mehdi Cerbah made an incredible save on a shot by Real Madrid’s Uli Stielike in the dying minutes.
However, Algeria was also very dangerous on the counter-attacks, and had a couple of excellent chances, as well as Madjer having a goal strangely annulled.
Jupp Derwall, West Germany’s coach, had before the match said that he would jump into the Mediterranean if they lost, but he had to eat his words and the Mediterranean was saved. Algeria had pulled a huge sensation and were now the darlings of the tournament. Losing their second match 0-2 to Austria, they got a much-needed 3-2 victory in their last match against Chile, almost putting them in the next round. However, Austria and West Germany were to play their last match right after Algeria’s victory, and both knew that the only result that would see both teams go through was 1-0 for West Germany. After only 10 minutes Horst Hrubesch scored for West Germany, and the rest of the match both teams just stopped playing while the Algerians desperately looked on.
Algeria had been eliminated by the pitiful West Germans and Austrians. Although they had obviously played on the result, FIFA made no attempts at punishing the teams. However, it did lead to one change in the rules: since then all last round matches are played simultaneously so as to avoid speculation on the result.
However, this was a meager consolation to a great Algerian team that were nevertheless the moral and real victors of the group.

Match Stats:
  • 16th June 1982, El Molinón, Gijón
  • Attendance: 42,000
  • Referee: Enrique Labo Revoredo (Perú)
Algeria-West Germany 2-1
Goals: 1-0 Madjer (54), 1-1 K.H. Rummenigge (67), 2-1 Belloumi (68)

Teams:
Algeria: Cerbah; Guendouz, Kourichi, Merzekane, Assad, Fergani, Belloumi, Madjer (Larbes), Zidane (Bensaoula), Dahleb, Mansouri
West Germany: Schumacher; Briegel, Breitner, Foerster, Dremmler, Littbarski, Hrubesch, K.H. Rummenigge, Magath (Fischer), Stielike, Kaltz

5 comments:

El Erik said...

Someone told me that Djamel Zidane was in fact related to Zinedine Zidane. Does anyone have more information on this?

Miguel, International Soccer Player, Gol Indoor Soccer Center said...

As an avid soccer fan I find this game to be quite a disgrace. Thankfully FIFA has made rule changes in order to ensure to their best ability that this doesn’t happen again. The first game seems like it would’ve been exactly the kind of soccer game that fans want to watch. The first game involved action, scoring, and the heart of an underdog. However, the fact that the same two teams played a game that was sure to disappoint fans around the world only a few days later is sad. There is no excuse for throwing a game; it takes away so much from the sport. I have always loved to watch soccer, especially the World Cup, because of the possibility of upsets and the unexpected victories. The game should never be played in order to win without heart. If a team wants to advance and knows what it takes then they should play their hearts out in order to get there. If they do not and choose to throw the game then it only takes away from the satisfaction. How could someone ever be proud of this victory?

Miguel, International Soccer Player, Gol Indoor Soccer Center said...

As an avid soccer fan I find this game to be quite a disgrace. Thankfully FIFA has made rule changes in order to ensure to their best ability that this doesn’t happen again. The first game seems like it would’ve been exactly the kind of soccer game that fans want to watch. The first game involved action, scoring, and the heart of an underdog. However, the fact that the same two teams played a game that was sure to disappoint fans around the world only a few days later is sad. There is no excuse for throwing a game; it takes away so much from the sport. I have always loved to watch soccer, especially the World Cup, because of the possibility of upsets and the unexpected victories. The game should never be played in order to win without heart. If a team wants to advance and knows what it takes then they should play their hearts out in order to get there. If they do not and choose to throw the game then it only takes away from the satisfaction. How could someone ever be proud of this victory?

El Erik said...

Hi Miguel,
I assume you are talking of the Austria-West germany match later. I indeed did not want to include it on my list because I agree with you that it was disgraceful, although I must admit I am not surprised, and they had to change the rules: when the rules are what they are, sportspeople will try to cheat... Victory is everything (whether I like it or not. And perhaps, to be self-concious, I tend to overlook cheating when it involves my own team; don't we all....?), in particular in the petty nationalism that is world cup football, as much as I as an avid soccer fan hate to admit it.

That said, Algeria's victory, even without the last disgraceful group match, was a historical, intense and dramatic match, and deserves all the praise it can get, even though we cannot ignore what happened afterwards....

Football is like life itself: beauty and happiness goes together with unfairness and disappointment.

Photographer said...

El Erik, they are related in villages - they are from the same collection of villages on the mountains of Tizi Ouzo, North algeria. those villages have relations but far ( in great, great grandfathers).
some photos of Algerian football and fans: http://every1.likes.com/