Bayern Munich and Inter Milan: 40 Years of World Cup Dominance

A transition is happening in the footballing world in these few days before the final, as we slowly shift our attention from the surprise packages, disappointments and superstars of this World Cup, back to the club game. News outlets are more and more focused on transfer news, as the January silly season is breathing down our necks. With this in mind, as a Germany and Bayern fan, the only consolation I can find is that once again a Bayern player will play in the final.


This was already known since the semifinals, and it will continue an illustrious streak, that first started in 1982. But after doing some digging, I was surprised to find, that Internazionale Milano have also had a representative in every World Cup final since 1982.


As surprising and amazing as this run is, in theory, it should come as no surprise, since Bayern is the most successful German club and regularly delivers more than half of the national team players. As for Inter, as much as AC Milan and Juventus fans would have it otherwise, they are a powerhouse of Italian football. In addition to that, Italy or Germany or both have been present in all but 4 finals since 1982. 




In 1982, the two most successful national sides in Europe met at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium. Bayern’s Paul Breitner, Wolfgang Dremmler and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge were present for Germany and Inter had Giampiero Marini, Ivano Bordon, Gabrielle Orialli, Beppe Bergomi and Alessandro Altobelli on the pitch.


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All of Bayern’s players were in the starting line-up, with Breitner scoring a consolation goal in a 3-1 defeat for the Germans. Bergomi and Orialli started for Italy, with Altobelli coming on in the seventh minute and scoring the Italian’s third goal.




The Estadio Azteca hosted the 1986 final, which once again ended in heartbreak for the Germans. This time, Diego Maradona’s Argentina came out on top against Lothar Matthaus, Dieter Hoeness, Norbert Eder’s and Rummenige’s team, and Rummenige ensured that Inter could continue their streak, having joined them two years earlier.


The current Bayern chairman scored in the 74th minute, a similar situation to this year’s World Cup meant that Argentina had the last laugh. Much like with Lionel Messi today, Maradona had to be neutralized in that game, with Matthaus man-marking him. But just like now, if you spend too much effort on their star player, Argentina’s quality in all other areas of the pitch will shine through.




This time, Inter’s German contingent had grown larger, with Lothar Matthäus, Andreas Brehme and Jürgen Klinsmann all starting. For Bayern, Stefan Reuter, Jürgen Kohler, Klaus Augenthaler, Raimond Aumann and Olaf Thon were in the squad, with Reuter, Kohler and Augenthaler playing a part.


Brehme’s penalty in the 86th minute, meant that the Germans got their revenge and added a third star to their jerseys. The victory meant that they had defeated the previous winners, in the home stadium of the team that had defeated them in 1982. As fans of the sitcom The Office might know, this is called a Perfektenschlag.




One of the most iconic World Cup tournaments once again had one of Italy or Germany in the final. This time, they would face the might of Brazil. As for our two club sides, the lack of representation was stark, compared with previous finals.


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Only one player represented Bayern, Jorginho, and only one represented Inter, Nicola Berti. Sadly, Jorginho came off injured in the 21st minute, with the sadness of the moment being soon forgotten as the Seleção won the final in one of the most infamous penalty shootouts ever.




In 1998, the French looked upon a packed Stade de France before their game against Brazil and made a momentous decision. Their opponents, Brazil, had played the final at the last tournament, and before that the Germans and Italians had consecutive final appearances as well.


At that moment, the French decided to invent the World Cup winners curse, a curse they later scrapped at the 2022 tournament. But back to the matter at hand: Bayern had Bixente Lizarazu on the pitch for the whole game and Inter was represented by Ronaldo and Youri Djorkaeff.




Gary Lineker produced my favourite quote about football when he said “Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.” Die Mannschaft made a very good case for that saying, winning 5 games on the road to the final. At the final hurdle, however, they were no match for Ronaldo’s brilliance.


After the tournament, Ronaldo moved from Inter to Real Madrid to join Florentino Perez’s rendition of a child left unsupervised in a candy shop. The losing side contained 4 Bayern players: Oliver Kahn, Carsten Jancker, Thomas Linke, and Jens Jeremies. Kahn, as big and scary as he was could not stop Brazil’s brilliance, marking the fourth time Germany collected silver at a World Cup.




I was in front of the television for this final, and boy was little me in for a treat. After Zidane opened the scoring, Internazionale’s Marco Materazzi equalized with a header and then, one of the most iconic World Cup moments happened.


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If Maradona had the hand of God on his side, Zidane’s head hitting Materazzi’s chest could be likened to Thor striking his hammer on a piece of metal in his workshop. His subsequent sending-off meant that Bayern’s Willy Sagnol, one of the most underrated right backs ever in my opinion, came out on the losing side.




Football had many games nicknamed The Battle of (insert location here). One of them was the 2006 Battle of Nuremberg between the Netherlands and Portugal. Four years later, the Dutch took the same kind of attitude to the Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg.


They had the brilliant Wesley Sneijder of Inter in their side, whilst Bayern delivered one of the best wingers of all time in the form of Arjen Robben and stalwart Mark van Bommel. The brilliance of both Spain and the Netherlands was overshadowed by a record high 14 yellow cards and one red.




The final at the Maracanã was overshadowed by what I believe to be the most beautiful game of football I have ever witnessed, Germany’s 7-1 demolition of Brazil. Nonetheless, a Germany side at the peak of their powers faced Messi’s Argentina with usual suspects Bayern and Inter once again having a raft of players.


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A total of seven Bayern players helped their national side stitch a fourth star onto their jersey: Manuel Neuer, Philipp Lahm, Jerome Boateng, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller, Mario Gotze. Rodrigo Palacio was the only Inter player on the pitch, coming on in the 78th minute.




The 2018 World Cup started two trends that we still see today. Even though the selection process of FIFA is nothing new, the amount of criticism directed at them and the hosts was something never seen before. The other trend that started was Croatia being almost impossible to beat. The surprise package of that tournament contained two Inter players in Ivan Perisic (who got on the scoresheet) and Marcelo Brozovic, with Frenchman Corentin Tolisso representing Bayern.




And now we have come to the present day and many things have changed. One of the most important changes has, in my opinion, been a shift in fan culture. Basically, instead of fighting amongst each other, many fans now fight for the betterment of football in terms of inclusivity and the sport itself being a force for good.


On the opposing side, FIFA’s corrupt and money-grubbing antics remain unchanged. Oh, and another thing; yep, you guessed it. Bayern and Inter will once again be represented in the World Cup Final. Internazionale Milano’s Lautaro Martinez will face off against three French players plying their trade in Bavaria: Dayot Upamecano, Benjamin Pavard and Kingsley Coman.


The magic of the World Cup, and football in general, is amplified by weird and wonderful facts and statistics like this. It only remains to be seen, if in 2026, both teams will be able to continue this amazing run. 


By: Eduard Holdis / @__He___