1974 FIFA WORLD CUP
1974 would see the World Cup return to Europe and would also see the return of a few teams such as Argentina and Portugal, both of whom who had failed to qualify for the last World Cup. It would also see the debut of many new teams such as the Netherlands, Haiti, Zaire, East Germany and Iran just to name a few. However even before a ball was kicked there was the shock absence of Mexico, the previous hosts and runners up who in their qualification had finished third and just missed out on qualification . Indeed if that wasn't bad enough, had Mexico made it to Germany, they would've been included as a seeded team due to new rules regarding the place of seeded teams.
The teams of 1974 prior to the draw was carried out
While the previous two tournaments had just the hosts and reigning champions guaranteed a place among the seeds, it was decided that the top four who finished in those positions at the last World Cup would be placed among the seeded teams. It was a format that had a mixed response by many with the annoyance being that FIFA was consentingly changing it around, however as Mexico failing to qualify seemed to make this idea look rather pointless, Poland and England would fill the rest of the seeded teams.
The draw itself would bring up a few head turning encounters with England and Argentina drawn together in what would be their first match together since the infamous 1966 semi-final . but perhaps the biggest moment in the draw was the moment when it was discovered that East and West Germany would be drawn together which the crowd present would applaud of what was to be a historic moment in German football history.
However what unlike other World Cup in which had the host nation play in the opening match, it was decided by FIFA that the reigning champions, in this case Brazil, would begin the tournament  and that their opponents would be a then unknown Dutch side who had never played at a World Cup since 1938. So thus would begin the 1974 World Cup...
Final results of Group 1
On a warm yet wet day in West Berlin, a rather charming opening ceremony featuring the opening of footballs to represent a group of dancers from each country  the first match would begin with Brazil and the Netherlands. However the result would be not what many expected as the Dutch would show the world of what was starting to be known as 'total football'. The Dutch would go on to blow all their group opponents apart without conceding a goal and quickly became the favourite to go all the way.
In contrast, Brazil spluttered their way through such as a dismal draw with Portugal and then finally a 3-0 victory over group whipping boys Zaire and were clearly a shadow of the brazil team that had amazed the world and the fact Pele had retired didn't help matters either as they were a team in transition. Portugal despite not thinking they had a chance would put up a decent show and would go through as one of the best third place ranked teams and may have even finished in second had they scored more goals .
All in all, Group 1 would be an interesting affair that many didn't quite expect and many wonder if this Brazil would do any better in the knockout stage, and for Zaire, the less said the better...
Brazil vs Holland in the opening match, note both wearing their away kits for the match
Final results for Group 2
Group 2 would see the hosts play their games, however it was the encounter of the two German teams in the final match that everyone wanted to see. That all said, West Germany would win their first two games before they would suffer a shock defeat to their eastern neighbours who in turn won the group . In the group, there would be the return of Chile who made a World Cup return for the first time in eight years and would finish in third place and qualify as one of the best ranked third place teams.
The group saw the debut of little Haiti but it would be a happy trip for them as they lost all their games finishing rock bottom without getting a goal and once again the question of the lesser teams diluting the quality of the World Cup. All in all, with East Germany's unexpected winning of the group, one had to wonder how far they could go and maybe be a dark horse.
The captains of the two German teams meet each other before the final group match
Final results of Group 3
Group 3 would see the highly awaited meeting of England and Argentina for the first time since 1966 and it would prove to be more of battle than an actual game of football with England scoring first before Argentina got a goal back and the game became more about cut legs down. It would be a brutal draw and both sides came under criticism for their style of play and thankfully, both sides would then get victories in their next two group games.
Bulgaria would have a poor World Cup while Iran managed to gain a point from their first ever World Cup game though thanks to a beating by England they couldn't go further. Argentina would win the group though it was only on goal difference and for a team that missed out on qualification, they had made quite an impressive return. Who was to say they could do better...?
England and Argentina during their opening match
Final results of Group 4
Group 4 would see the best ranked third place team, Uruguay, face of the likes of Scotland, Australia and Austria. Uruguay would win the group  thanks to their better goal difference with Scotland coming in second. Australia would sneak through as one of the best ranked third place teams  and by this point thanks to constant qualification to the World Cup, Australian football had been improving over the years.
In contrast Austria, who were making a return for the first time since 1954, would suffer a disastrous run of games which got off to the worst start thanks to defeat to Australia and with that they would fail to any points and finished bottom. Despite this, it would be quite a tight group and as such, no one really knew who would do better in the next round...
The Scotland team before their final game with Austria
Final results of Group 5
Group 5 was pretty the group how many expected would end up with Italy winning the group and Czechoslovakia coming in second, the latter being a far better improvement from their last two World Cup appearances. Though the group featured no new teams, it had the return of South Korea who were back for the first time since 1954, exactly 20 years ago in what was no exactly one to look back fondly on .
However despite two defeats in their first two matches, the Koreans would gain a point in their last group game that was almost a victory had Yugoslavia not scored at the end to deny what would have been South Korea's first victory and may have been enough to see them go through as one of the best ranked third place teams. For many, Italy were one of the favourites but could they live up to expectation?
The Italian teams of 1974
Final results of Group 6
The final Group would be something that many called the less 'attractive' teams with many not having many star players and in the inclusion of a new comer in the form of Trinidad and Tobago. Poland though would end up being the winner of the group after pulling off some quite an impressive run by winning all their games to look like an unlikely side that could go all the way. Both Belgian and Romania would also go through while poor old Trinidad looked out of their element and never scored once.
With that all done, the last 16 teams had made it to the knockout stage and once again many were looking forward to seeing which team would go all the way in the tense knockout phase...
Final result of the best ranked third place teams
--------And into 1974 we go! Hope you are liking what you are seeing with what team you support. Anyway, here are the notes to follow on:
 This happened with Mexico finished in third place behind Trinidad on goal difference, here it is more painful how close they came to qualifying.
 If you remember early on ITTL.
 As in OTL.
 Same opening ceremony as IOTL only with more nations here.
 Pretty much the same set of results that Brazil found itself, only difference is them losing in the group stage here.
 Same result as OTL.
 In contrast in which they finished bottom IOTL.
 Who actually finsihed bottom in OTL, however the team ITTL is improved thanks to play more World Cup football.
 South Korea had a poor World Cup in 1954, not thanks to the war that had wrecked the country.
So as with before, here is the last 16 set of fixtures...
Netherlands vs Australia
Belgium vs West Germany
Italy vs Scotland
Argentina vs Chile
Uruguay vs Romania
Brazil vs England
Poland vs Czechoslovakia
East Germany vs Portugal
So, who do you think will go through to the Quarter finals? Until then, catch you later!