The French team was captained by the elegant Michel Platini from Saint-Étienne, who was already hailed as one of the best French players ever, but would only become better in the following years.
The Germans had arguably become the most unpopular team of the tournament after their first round loss to Algeria, and what everyone considered the “fixed” 1-0 win over Austria, that had put themselves and the Austrians in the second round at the expense of Algeria.
In the second round West Germany had tied England 0-0, and a 2-1 victory against the home team of Spain, was enough to put them in the semi-final, where they were nevertheless considered as favourites against the French side.
63,000 fans in Sevilla and TV audiences around the world would be witness to one of the greatest dramas in World cup history.
The match started best for the Germans when, after 17 minutes the veteran Paul Breitner made a perfect through-pass to another veterean, 1. FC Köln’s Klaus Fischer, who dashed towards goal between two French defenders. French goalkeeper Jean-Luc Ettori came out quickly and blocked the shot, but the ball fell to another 1. FC Köln player, the young Pierre Littbarski, at the edge of the penalty area, who resolutely shot the ball past Ettori.
Barely ten minutes later the Dutch referee Charles Corver, awarded France a penalty kick when Paris Saint-Germain’s Dominique Rocheteau was brought down as he was pursuing a header. Michel Platini scored, and the match was again levelled.
On goal, West Germany had Harald “Toni” Schumacher, perhaps the best goalkeeper in the world at the time, but also a controversial and provocative person, who would in 1987 be banned from the German national team and his club, 1. FC Köln, for having written a controversial autobiography, Ampfiff.
In this match, Schumacher would also play a central role in one of the most controversial incidents in the history of the World Cup.
First half ended 1-1, and fifteen minutes into the second half Michel Platini’s team-mate from Saint-Étienne Patrick Battiston came on. Only five minutes later Platini made a perfect through pass to Battiston, who had a free run towards the German goal. Schumacher came rushing out of the goal, and at the edge of the penalty area jumped violently into Battiston, who fell unconscious to the ground, as the ball calmly went past the goal.
The Frenchman had to be given emergency oxygen, lost many teeth, and was immediately taken to the hospital with a severe concussion. In one of the oddest refereeing decisions in World Cup history, the referee did not call a foul nor gave Schumacher a card. Instead, West Germany was awarded a goal-kick, while Battison had to be replaced by Christian Lopez, another Saint-Étienne player.
Schumacher’s cynicism and violence only made the Germans even more unpopular.
As the match wore on the elegant French put pressure on West Germany, whose players were increasingly resorting to fouls to stop the French attacking waves. In the 83rd minute Manuel Amoros, from AS Monaco, had a shot on the crossbar, but in the dying minutes of the match, Karl Heinz Föerster and Paul Breitner forced Ettori to some good saves.
The match had ended 1-1 and had to go into extra time.
France continued attacking, and only two minutes into extra time managed to score. Bordeaux’s elegant little midfielder, Alain Giresse took a free kick from the right side, and a slight diversion of the ball from a German defender caused it to fall to an unmarked Marius Trésor, also from Bordeaux, who scored with a perfect volley into the German goal.
But the French didn’t stop there. Six minutes later Alain Giresse himself received the ball from Didier Six in the face of meager German defending, and scored on a perfect shot out of Schumacher’s range.
3-1 in extra time, and victory seemed all but certain for France.
But the stubborn Germans refused to give up, and four minutes later Bayern Munich’s K.H. Rummennigge (European footballer of the year in 1981 and 1982), who had only entered the match five minutes before as a substitute for Hans Peter Briegel, scored the German’s second goal in a counter-attack by fighting his way ahead of a defender on a cross by Stielike.
The score was 3-2 for France as the team went on to the last 15 minutes of the extra time. The now confident Germans immediately attacked. On a cross from Littbarski into the French penalty area, Hamburg’s stupendous header, Horst Hrubesch, ascended and headed to ball towards the edge of the six-yard box where Klaus Fischer scored on an a spectacular bycicle kick to make it 3-3. After being completely down, West Germany had turned the match around in the most spectacular fashion!
Without further goals from the tired players, the extraordinary match had to be decided by the first penalty shoot-out in World Cup history. Before penalty shoot-outs matches were decided by draws after extra time, and so the penalty shoot-out was introduced in the World Cup of 1978, where it didn’t become necessary, mostly due to the fact that the tournaments were played in the form of two group stages.
France started shooting, and ahead 3-2 Uli Stielike missed the third shot for the West Germans. Disappointed and being consoled by Pierre Littbarski, Harald Schumacher leveled the match again by saving the following kick from Didier Six. As Platini and Rummenigge both scored on their following kicks, it all came down to the last kicks. Nantes’ veteran defender, Maxime Bossis shot the last one for France, and Schumacher saved. In the following shot, Horst Hrubesch made no mistake and scored, putting West Germany in their fourth World Cup final of all time, against Italy, a match they would go on to lose 3-1.
In the meantime, a disappointed French side faced Poland in the match for bronze, and lost 3-2.
This semifinal was surely one of the greatest dramas in World Cup history between these two European giants.
Michel Platini later said about the match: "For me, no book or film or play could ever recapture the way I felt that day. It was so complete, so strong and so fabulous."
- 8th July 1982, Estadio Ramon Sánchez Pizjuán, Seville
- Attendance: 63,000
- Referee: Charles Corver, Netherlands
Goals: 0-1 Littbarski (17), 1-1 Platini (26) (pen), 1-2 Trésor (92), 1-3 Giresse (98), 2-3 K.H. Rummenigge (102), 3-3 Fischer (108)
France-West Germany 5-4
4-4 K.H. Rummenigge
France: Ettori; Amoros, Bossis, Janvion, Trésor, Genghini (Battiston) (Lopez) , Platini, Giresse, Tigana, Rocheteau, Six
West Germany: Schumacher; K.H. Foerster, Briegel (K.H. Rummenigge), B. Foerster, Breitner, Kaltz, Dremmler, Littbarski, Fischer, Magath (Hrubesch), Stielike