Montreal ’76 : East Germany v France


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East Germany goalkeeper JUERGEN CROY of FC Sachsenring Zwickau, who was officially honored as the very best footballer the country had ever produced during the celebrations which coincided with the 40th anniversary of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik in 1989, started off the football tournament at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Canada by posting three consecutive clean sheets between the sticks.
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EAST GERMANY and FRANCE were now familiar foes having met twice in the attempt to qualify for the 1976 UEFA European Championships. The two nations had previously drawn 2-2 in Paris after the French rallied for two goals in the final eleven minutes of the match in November of 1974 before the East Germans prevailed 2-1 in Leipzig eleven months later although both countries, in the end, finished behind the group winners from Belgium. The quarterfinal match in front of 20,083 spectators at Ottawa’s Lansdowne Park in the summer of 1976, however, offered the winner the right to move into the Olympic medal round.

The French had shown the inclination to attack effectively in their Group B matches at the Montreal Games. 21-year-old budding star MICHEL PLATINI of AS Nancy, who would go on to register 41 goals in 72 ‘full’ internationals for France, was leading the entire Olympic tournament after the first round with three goals scored while forwards JEAN-MARC SCHAER, a reserve for beaten 1976 European Cup of Champions finalist AS St. Etienne, and LOIC AMISSE of FC Nantes added a pair of strikes each, as well. Helping to hold down the fort at the back was PATRICK BATTISTON of FC Metz, the 19-year-old who, like Platini, would later represent France at three FIFA World Cup final tournaments.

Trainer GEORG BUSCHNER again made only one change to the Deutsche Demokratische Republik Startelf that had downed Spain 1-0 in the final Group A match. 20-year-old GERD WEBER of domestic champion Dynamo Dresden ceded his place on the left side in midfield to his teammate in the East German Oberliga, the 22-year-old HARTMUT SCHADE, who had come on as a second half substitute against the Spanish. Schade, who netted four goals in 22 games for Dynamo Dresden during the title-winning 75/76 campaign, was more of an offensive threat than Weber, who normally turned out on defense for the Saxon club in the domestic league.

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GERD WEBER of SG Dynamo Dresden
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The more experienced East Germans, fielding seven from their 1974 FIFA World Cup squad in the Startelf against France in the Canadian capital city, took the lead less than a half hour into the quarterfinal. 31-year-old winger WOLFRAM LOEWE of FC Lokomotive Leipzig, tied for thirteenth all-time with 12 strikes for the senior national side of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik, scored the only goal the D.D.R. would actually need at Lansdowne Park. This because, yet again at these ’76 Summer Games, the defensive wall of East Germany backstopped by JUERGEN CROY of FC Sachsenring Zwickau was proving itself impossible to penetrate.

Whatever medal round hopes France, who had ruled Canada as a colony a few hundred years previously, may have held were effectively killed shortly before the hour when two French midfielders, JEAN FERNANDEZ of Olympique Marseille and FRANCISCO “Paco” RUBIO of AS NANCY were both handed their marching orders after a penalty kick had been awarded by Italian referee ALBERTO MICHELOTTI. East Germany captain and sweeper HANS-JUERGEN DOERNER of Dynamo Dresden, who had shot the D.D.R.’s only goal of the first round at the Montreal Games, had no trouble from the spot in the 60th minute to compound French misery.

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The attempt from East Germany winger WOLFRAM LOEWE of FC Lokomotive Leipzig eludes both the outstretched hand of Argentina goalkeeper UBALDO FILLOL (12) of CA River Plate as well as the actual net, itself, during the 1974 FIFA World Cup second round, Group A match at the Parkstadion in Gelsenkirchen, West Germany.
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Doerner added his third goal of the tournament at the 1976 Summer Olympics and extended the East German lead in the quarterfinal to three by successfully depositing still another spot kick past hapless 30-year-old France goalkeeper JEAN-CLAUDE LARRIEU of AS Cannes in the 68th minute. At this point, the D.D.R. trainer Buschner surveyed his bench and introduced youthful striker HANS-JUERGEN RIEDIGER of Dynamo Berlin in place of World Cup veteran MARTIN HOFFMANN of FC Magdeburg. The 21-year-old Riediger, who had registered two goals for East Germany in the Olympic qualification matches, responded with his only tally at the Montreal Games proper in the 77th minute opposite the French at Lansdowne Park.

In a classy move, Buschner sent on back-up goalkeeper HANS-ULRICH GRAPENTHIN of FC Carl Zeiss Jena for the final ten minutes of the one-sided Olympic quarterfinal contest with France. The East German trainer obviously had the immediate future concerning the ’76 Summer Games in mind when making this decision. The rules as set by the International Olympic Committee stated that only players who had appeared in a tournament match would be eligible to be awarded an a medal at the conclusion of the Montreal Games.

The heavy 4-0 defeat by East Germany over France in the quarterfinal at Ottawa was, no doubt, received warmly by the powers that be at the highest levels of government in the old Deutsche Demokratische Republik. This set the stage for a showdown with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, who, of course, had in excess of 400,000 troops still permanetly stationed in the D.D.R. behind the notorious Iron Curtain at this point in time. A return meeting of the Bronze Medal Match at the 1972 Munich Games in West Germany, then — a 2-2 draw that had resulted in the Olympic medals being shared.

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HANS-JUERGEN DOERNER of Dynamo Dresden, the 25-year-old standout Spielfuehrer and sweeper for East Germany who went by the nickname of “Dixie”, scored two important goals from the penalty spot in the Olympic quarterfinal match at Lansdowne Park as the Deutsche Demokratische Republik easily dispatched France in the Canadian capital city to advance to the medal round at the 1976 Summer Games.

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