History: West Germany make their mark: 1972

European champions Italy finished runners-up at the 1970 FIFA World Cup, but they were far from favourites to defend their European title in 1972. West Germany coach Helmut Schon assembled a team many regard as the greatest to grace the competition and Germany’s best ever side.

Drawing the best elements from Bundesliga, Schon crafted an awesome lineup. Franz Beckenbauer dropped back to become the first of the great attacking sweepers; attacking left-back Paul Breitner and forward Uli Hoeness were superb young additions and Gunter Netzer was recalled to add flair, arrogance and flowing blond locks to the midfield. Leading the line was Gerd Muller. A supreme finisher, Muller was at the height of his powers and scored six in the qualifying group.

Home advantage failed to serve the Belgians in the same way it helped Spain and Italy in the two previous editions of the Euro finals. The championship battle itself was a one-sided affair, with Netzer and Beckenbauer imperious in midfield and Muller helping himself to yet another brace. Herbert Wimmer scored the other goal as the Germans celebrated a resounding 3-0 success over the Soviet Union, still the largest margin of victory in a European Championship final.