The 2nd round of the 1978 World Cup featured four of the best national soccer programs and teams in the world with Germany and the Netherlands in Group A….plus Brazil and Argentina in Group B….for since the inception of the FIFA World Cup in 1930….at least one of these teams were in the Finals for every World Cup (20) since then.
In the all-European Group A….the Netherlands got off to a flying start by thrashing Austria 5–1 with Johnny Rep scoring two of their goals….then in a rematch of the 1974 final….the Dutch then drew 2–2 with West Germany….as seen in this video herewith…. after Germany had previously shared a goalless game with Italy. The Italians went on to beat Austria 1–0….so the Netherlands faced Italy in their last group game knowing that the winners would reach the final. Ernie Brandts scored an 18th-minute own goal to put Italy ahead at half-time….but he made up for his mistake by scoring at the right end in the fifth minute of the second half. Arie Haan got the winning goal for the Dutch with 15 minutes remaining….as the Netherlands reached their second successive World Cup Final. In the game known as the miracle of Cordoba….West Germany, led by captain Jurgen Klinnsmann….were surprisingly beaten by Austria 2–3….marking their end as World Champions.
Group B was essentially a battle between Argentina and Brazil….which was resolved in controversial circumstances….as in the first round of group games….Brazil beat Peru 3–0 while Argentina bested Poland by a score of 2–0….then Brazil and Argentina played out a tense and violent goalless draw….so both teams went into the last round of matches with three points. Argentina delayed the kick-off of its last match to await the result of the Brazil-Poland encounter….which Brazil won by a 3–1 score….meaning Argentina had to beat Peru by four clear goals to reach the final….which they managed to do after trailing 2–0 at half-time….as Peru simply collapsed in the second half….and Argentina eventually won 6–0….so, as previously noted, rumors suggested that Peru might have been bribed or threatened into allowing Argentina to win the match by such a large margin….however, nothing could be proved and Argentina met the Netherlands in the final…..as Brazil took third place from an enterprising Italian side with Nelinho scoring a memorable goal….and were dubbed “moral champions” by coach Cláudio Coutinho, because they did not win the tournament, but did not lose a single match.
This 2nd Round Group A match between the Netherlands and West Germany was an outstanding match…..well worth watching over and over again.