The Germans and Austria were in a group with Algeria and Chile, and both sides went into the World Cup full of confidence. West Germany were European Champions and had qualfied for the tournament in Spain by winning every single match.
However, arrogance got the better of them and in the opening group stage match, Algeria recorded a shock victory against 'Die Mannschaft' - the first time a European side had ever been beaten by an African nation in World Cup history.
A combination of later results, including Chile coming back from 3-0 down to 3-2 against Algeria, set the stage for the match in Gijon.
Algeria, the darlings of the World Cup having surprised everyone with their attacking play, sat top of the group on four points above Austria on goal difference. West Germany were behind, but had beaten Chile in convincing fashion. With Algeria's game being played the day before, both sides went into the match knowing that a win for the Germans by one or two goals would be enough to see both teams through at the north African's expense.
So what happened? Of course West Germany won 1-0.
Horst Hrubesch scored the decisive goal after ten minutes, and the following eighty were played out at a snail's pace. The game was characterised by neither side attempting to score, content to pass round the midfield or back to the goalkeeper.
Opta have kept statistics of every World Cup match since 1966, and here they are telling. There were three shots, none on target. West Germany made eight tackles or one every six minutes. Both sides had an overall pass-completion ratio in excess of 90%, a rate that is rare today for even the best and was unheard of in those days. Austria had a 99% success rate with passes in their own half; West Germany’s was 98%.
Algerian fans in the crowd were shouting of the fix, while the Spanish fans chanted that the two sides should just go the distance and kiss.
It was desribed on British TV as follows: "quality players who should all be in the book of referee Bob Valentine for bringing the game into disrepute. This is one of the most disgraceful international matches I’ve ever seen."
In German, it is known as the 'Non-Agression pact of Gijon' while in most of the non English-speaking world, it is simply known as the 'Anscluss' - a reference to Germany's annexation of Austria before WW2.
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