World Cup’s 101 Most Memorable Moments: The birth of total football


Editor’s note: Every day from now until the start of the first match of the FIFA World Cup 2022 on November 20, we will reveal a different memory from the history of the World Cup. The the countdown from 101 continues with the birth of Total Football.

Contrary to popular belief, the Netherlands did not invent the concept of Total Football, the fluid tactical scheme in which any player can replace any player, regardless of position, if the situation calls for it within a game.

However, the Dutch deserve credit for bringing the idea to the masses at the 1974 World Cup. Oranje manager Rinus Michels was a long-time proponent of the system. And he found the perfect disciple in star striker Johan Cruyff, a technical and tactician (he entered the tournament having won three consecutive Ballon d’Ors) whom Michels allowed to roam the pitch in search of areas where he could be. the most dangerous

Total Football took the Netherlands to their first World Cup final, with emphatic victories over Argentina and Brazil. Cruyff’s dazzling run after a 15-pass sequence from the opening kick-off helped give the Dutch an early lead over West Germany in the decider. As it turned out, Total Football was not a total test; Cruyff was man-marked, and the Germans won the World Cup on home soil.

Total football for the Oranje

Total football for the Oranje

The Netherlands brought total football to the masses at the 1974 World Cup.

Doug McIntyre is a football writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a writer for ESPN and Yahoo Sports and has covered the US men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @By Doug McIntyre.


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