Jul 07, 2016

    Knockout drama in 1982


    IT WAS the match that had everything - spectacular goals, a brutal clash and a dramatic comeback, before finally, a nail-biting penalty shoot-out.

    For many, West Germany's 1982 World Cup semi-final against France in Seville remains the ultimate, engrossing duel providing

    new plot twists at every turn.

    And as the two countries prepare to meet again in the Euro 2016 semi-final in Marseille tonight, the 1982 match has also become a symbol of the tense football relationship between France and Germany.

    For all the scintillating attacking play, it was a savage encounter between Germany goalkeeper Harald "Toni" Schumacher and France's Patrick Battiston in the 57th minute which became the turning point.

    With the score at 1-1, Battiston was sent clear with only the advancing Schumacher to beat.

    The French substitute nudged the ball past the goalkeeper only to be brought crashing to the ground by Schumacher, who knocked Battiston cold and dislodged two teeth.

    Actions that should have earned Schumacher a red card, as well as a penalty to France, went unpunished. Incredibly, the Dutch referee later said he had not seen the incident.

    Fuelled by a sense of injustice as well as the burning desire to secure a place in the final against Italy, France played fabulously for the remainder of the match.

    But just as France were contemplating a place in the final, Germany hit back.

    For the first time in the history of the World Cup, penalties would be used to settle a match and France, one of the most gifted sides in the tournament, were out.

    The Battiston injuries are revived each time France play Germany. But Franco-German writer Marc Wels, who produced a play about the game, said the nationalist tensions have eased.

    "Before, the players did

    not travel, there was a real identity stake between national teams who had to carry their history on their shoulders," he noted.

    "Now, the players are in the same clubs, its nicer.

    And for young people, it is

    a question of sport now."