The 1976 Euro is the 5th edition of the European Championship. The anecdote of these Euro as these is the last European championship with four teams before UEFA had decided to expand it to 8 teams in the next edition in 1980. These also the only European championship where the host also needs to qualified for the tournament a rarity. These Euro also have 3rd and 4th playoff matches before UEFA decided to erase it from 1980 onwards. The heavy favourites team to win the competition is West Germany and Holland, who had mesmerized the football world with Total Football in the 1974 World Cup before falling to the West German team in the final. The Netherland was expected to make redemption in the tournament by winning the competition.
The qualifying process for these Euro is different from the current format as 32 teams were divided into eight groups of 4 teams in the preliminary round. The winner of these group will progress to the quarter-final qualifying round home and away format. The winner of these quarter-finals will advance to the final round of the competition hosted by Yugoslavia. The four-team are West Germany, Yugoslavia, Netherlands and Czechoslovakia.
Before the Spanish football team had accomplished the impressive feat of winning the three successive competition, West Germany had the chances to make this feat. The West German team are the defending champion; their team is still intact, with only exclusion is the retirement of the prolific goalscorer Gerd Muller. Meanwhile, the Netherlands have their talisman Johan Cyruff, and the repeat of the final in 1974 was expected. However, things turn pretty differently with the birth of skill that had been revered since then.
The semi-final with held Yugoslavia is a one-legged tie with the tie will proceed to the extra time if no winner had been decided in the full-time period. Yugoslavia looks like progressing to the final after leading the West German 2-0 in the first half. However, the German famed never say die and resilient had dented the Yugoslavian hope as they had come back to score two goals in the late second half and adding another two goals in the extra time to progress to the final. The German are on the verge of completing a historic feat of winning three successive major tournaments after the triumph in the 1972 Euro followed by the 1974 World Cup. The German can also become the first team to win the two straight Euro; however, sadly, that does not happen.
In the next semi-final match, the Netherland meet Czechoslovakia. A Netherland win and the repeat of the 1974 World Cup final match are expected; however, the Czechoslovakia team stopped these expectations as they had knocked out the Netherland and pushed them to the 3rd and 4th place playoff instead of the final. Thus, the final of the Euro now will be between West Germany and Czechoslovakia while the 3rd and 4th place playoff will be between the host Yugoslavia and Netherlands, which the host had won after extra time.
West Germany is expected to win for the final games as they are the heavy favourites even without their key player Gerd Muller. However, things didn’t turn quite well for Germany as they trailed the Czech team with 2-0. The German need to make some come back as they did against Yugoslavia, which they did after scoring in the last minute of the full-time to take the game to the extra time. This competition had been the first time where all the five matches had been undecided on full-time. A feat that is still intact today.
Unlike the extra time against Yugoslavia, the German unable to add to their goal tally and the game needed to be decided in a first-ever penalty shootout. This shootout where the legendary skill that the oncoming player generation reveres had born. The first three penalties from each side had been successful. However, the 4th penalty had not been the case as the Czech player Ladislav Jurkemik had successfully slotted his penalty; however, the Czech goalkeeper saves the German player Uli Hoeness penalty.
The 5th penalties are the most important in Czech footballing history as there are one kick away from winning their first-ever major tournament. The player that needs to complete these task is Antonin Panenka. He stepped up, and in a manner of pure audacity in the high tensed game, he lobbed his penalty right in the centre while German goalkeeper Sepp Maier dived to his left. A moment of sheer genius, courageous and pure audacity for Panenka to pull off this relaxed style in a crucial game. The Czechslovakia had won their first major tournament, and the German hope of accomplishing the impressive feat had been dented. The Spanish team later will achieve the accomplishment that the German had failed in these tournaments.
The Panenka penalty is born from this tournament. From then on, most of the coming generation players had followed this penalty style successfully. Unfortunately, some had ended up embarrassingly, like what happened to Sergio Aguero in the crucial league game against Manchester City these seasons. The Panenka style penalty may have been copied successfully by the current players; however, the pure genius of the way Panenka pulled these feats in one of the most crucial game in Czechslovakia is still unmatched.
For the German, this is their only penalty shootout loss in every competition before they become the supremo penalty shootout team. The German had never been defeated again in a penalty shootout in Euro and the World Cup. Furthermore, the German had successfully added their 2nd European champion four years later. The Czechoslovakia team, meanwhile, had failed to reach another final before their dissolution in 1993. The nation born from these dissolutions, the Czech Republic, had managed to progress in the 1996 Euro penultimate match; however, the German had reigned supreme this time.