All eyes were on England, Italy and West Germany going into the 1972 European Championship qualifiers.
The strongest forces in European football at that time all had reasons to be hopeful, though two of them were on a collision course which could only produce one winner and the other side would not even make the semi-finals.
Being the form team, West Germany had the edge over the triumvirate, despite losing an incredible World Cup semi-final 4-3 against Italy in 1970.
In Gerd Muller they had probably the best forward in the world and his extra-time goal knocked England out of the Mexico finals. He was to figure prominently again when the two old foes met up two years later.
Wembley was the stage for the first leg of their quarter-final and Muller was on target again in a 3-1 victory over England, which was to prove more than enough to see West Germany through to the semis in Belgium.
The host nation were also able to take their place in the final stages and West Germany were to be their opponents.
Belgium, 2-1 aggregate winners over World Cup finalists Italy in the quarter-finals, knew they would have their work cut out and so it proved in a largely one-sided encounter.
Goal machine Muller turned up trumps again with strikes midway through either half, though the Belgians pulled one back late on thanks to Odilon Polleunis.
ENGLAND IN EUROPE: 1972
Qualifying Group 3:
Malta 0-1 Eng,
Eng 3-0 Greece,
Eng 5-0 Malta, Switz 2-3 Eng,
Eng 1-1 Switz, Greece 0-2 Eng
Eng 1-3 W Germany,
W Germany 0-0 Eng
Having reached the final, few would have denied that the right team were in the right place - and this was most definitely the right time for West Germany.
Their opponents would come from the other semi-final and, this being the European Championship, the Soviet Union were naturally there, keeping up their record of reaching the last four of every finals since the tournament's inception.
Hungary were not expected to cause them any problems, but then they were not expected to have reached this far.
A sparse crowd could barely contain their apathy when Anatoli Konkov settled the tie in the Soviets' favour with a deflected shot, though Hungary spurned a late opportunity to bring things level when they missed a penalty.
West Germany were at their arrogant best in the final. The Soviets were psychologically beaten before they started after a recent 4-1 thrashing by the Germans, with Gerd Muller scoring all four.
Inevitably, he claimed another two against the Soviet Union and Herbert Wimmer supplied the third to give the incomparably stylish Franz Beckenbauer some trophy-lifting practice in time for the World Cup two years later.
1972 European Championship results (Held in Belgium)
West Germany 2-1 Belgium
Hungary 0-1 Soviet Union
Third place play-off
Belgium 2-1 Hungary
West Germany 3-0 Soviet Union