The conquest of the World Cup in 1978 will always be tainted by the bloody military dictatorship. It will suffice to remember that while the games were played in the Monumental, the detainees were tortured in the ESMA a few blocks away. However, that national team deserves recognition for the sporting achievement, which was huge.
I got the good fortune to be in the 74 World Cup at the Gelsenkirchen stadium, where the Netherlands and Argentina faced each other, and maybe that's why the comparison with what would come next is clearer. We all knew beforehand in Germany that there was no chance. On the one hand a self-confident, versatile, exciting team. On the other hand, a group of enthusiastic footballers who in some cases played out of position, with three coaches who didn´t agree with each other.
Beyond the final result (4-0), it was a painful defeat. The “Clockwork Oranje” crushed us. You got the feeling that the guys made the goals the wanted, when they wanted and how they wanted. There were four goals, but they could be eight, ten, as many as they want. Argentina didn´t even got close to the opposite goalkeeper, which seemed to be miles away.
Four years after that spectacle, the Argentine team reached the World Cup final, with other players and with a totally different approach.
The work of César Luis Menotti, who had assumed the coaching job shortly after the World Cup in Germany, reached its peak: the final was reached, with concrete chances of achieving the title against those who until then were presented as the best. And Argentina won that match deservedly and legitimately.
Four years after that nightmare in Germany, the dream of the world title became a reality. Almost everyone who had been in Gelsenkirchen was satisfied with just having reached the final, four years later. What goes from humiliation to pride.