"Greater German" World Cup embarrassment 1938: "Seppl, do you live on the moon?"

Out after just two games at the World Cup? That would not be a novelty if Hansi Flick's team failed on Sunday against Spain.

"Greater German" World Cup embarrassment 1938: "Seppl, do you live on the moon?"

Out after just two games at the World Cup? That would not be a novelty if Hansi Flick's team failed on Sunday against Spain. It was 1938 that was to blame, of course: the Austrians. And the Nazis. And someone had a bad premonition early on before the tournament: the national coach at the time, Sepp Herberger. A look back at one of the greatest embarrassments in the history of the association.

Sepp Herberger had a bad premonition. "Oh, holy simplicity!" he noted in his diary about the absurd plans from the "football department". Years after the World Cup disaster in France, he is said to have sighed: "Viennese melange with a Prussian touch, that couldn't go well." A few weeks after the "annexation" of Austria to Hitler's Germany, what belonged together in the eyes of the Nazis should also grow together in football: Herberger, who became immortal in 1954 as the "boss" of the world champion team from Bern, had to play the 16th round for the 1938 World Cup Play undefeated Breslau-Elf blow up - and install some "Ösis".

But the World Cup system and the Viennese school ("Danube football") did not go together. Old German "athletes" here, "beautiful players" from the "Ostmark" there - Herberger knew: this was bound to go wrong. But his protest at the specialist office died away. "Seppl, do you live on the moon? The Reichsfuhrer wants a 6:5 or 5:6," said head of department Felix Linnemann about the intended player ratio: "History expects that from us!" Herberger felt "lonely and abandoned on a high cliff edge". Especially since the mood in his mixed selection of 13 Germans and nine Viennese was hostile, even hateful. Left winger Hans Pesser from Rapid cried about the "force-through-kicks-football" of the new colleagues, "strictly according to army regulations".

During the preparations in Duisburg, the Austrian Josef Stroh showed the Germans his tricks while his buddies hooted. "Only Peppi can do that," they teased. DFB captain Fritz Szepan followed up and finished with a full-span shot just over the heads of the Austrians. "There you have your 'only Peppi can do that'!" And so it happened on June 4, 1938 in Paris as it had to happen. Herberger set against Switzerland in the World Cup Round of 16, then the first round, at a ratio of 6:5. His eleven took the lead, but Andre Abegglen equalized. Pesser was sent off in extra time and spat at by the hostile crowd.

Because there was no penalty shootout, there was a replay five days later. Herberger brought six new players, but stuck to the ratio of 6:5. His team gambled away a 2-0 lead, Abegglen scored twice as the Swiss made it 4-2. Out of! Herberger justified himself to the angry Nazi officials that in the "terrible cauldron" of Paris "everything was conspiring against us": "It was a terrible battle, it wasn't a game anymore." In his notes he complained about the "inadequate effort" - the Austrians.

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