With a new World Cup trophy to play for after Brazil had claimed the old one outright with their third victory, there was a very new feel to the line-up for¬†1974¬†as well, with the likes of¬†Zaire,¬†Haiti¬†and¬†Australia¬†making it for the first time.
East Germany¬†were there as well for the first and only time, and famously beat hosts¬†West Germany¬†1-0 to finish top of their group, although both teams were already through by then.
Although the field was still 16, FIFA had effectively scrapped the quarter finals and semi finals, in favour of dividing the last eight into¬†two further groups of four, with the winners of those two groups to meet in the final.
The wonderful Dutch team of¬†Johan Cruyff,¬†Johnny Rep¬†and¬†Johan Neeskens¬†won their first two matches in this second phase, as did¬†Brazil, pitting the two sides into a group decider which the Netherlands won 2-0 to set up a final against the host nation.
Neeskens‚Äô penalty in the 2nd¬†minute put them in front, but the Germans levelled with a penalty of their own from¬†Paul Breitner, and the legendary¬†Gerd Muller¬†scored what proved to be their winning goal late in the first half.
Cruyff was the star of the tournament, but it turned out be the only time he ever played in it, while for his country this was just the beginning of a long story of World Cup heartbreak.