08 Jun The five best World Cup matches that involves Germany
With the 2018 World Cup just around the corner, defending champions Germany head to Russia as arguably one of the favourites to lift the trophy yet again. From Franz Beckenbauer and Lothar Matthaus, right through to Bastian Schweinsteiger, Germany have produced a whole host of world class footballers who have shone on the biggest international stage.
En route to winning the World Cup on four separate occasions, Die Mannschaft have been involved in countless classic encounters which provided joy to those watching around the globe. Mario Gotze’s extra time winner in the 2014 final was the most recent such moment, however there are five other vintage matches which have involved the tournament’s joint most successful European nation.
1, Germany 0-2 Italy: 2006 World Cup Semi Final
As hosts of the 2006 tournament, expectations were high on the German team to reach their second successive final. The Westfalenstadion provided a perfect backdrop of fervent support as the home team prepared to face Marcello Lippi’s Italian side in the semi final of the tournament.
Despite being just one step from a dream final, Germany never truly found their rhythm against the eventual champions and nerves quickly began to set in, something which Per Mertesacker would talk about in detail years later.
Jurgen Klinsmann’s team was an ageing one in truth and they had actually surpassed expectations in reaching this stage of the tournament, although the bright individual sparks provided by Lukas Podolski and Philipp Lahm had been a positive to take from the competition.
Both teams exchanged glancing blows with Bernd Schneider and Andrea Pirlo missing good chances in the first half, although the Azzurri looked to be the team playing with freedom and without any pressure. They entered the cauldron of noise which was Borussia Dortmund’s stadium without expectations of success but quickly sensed the nerves in the German side.
The score-board remained unchanged until the 119th minute of play, the host nation were preparing for the familiar penalty shoot-out when their world came crashing down courtesy of one of the most memorable moments in tournament history.
Pirlo slipped a clever pass into the penalty area towards the feet of Fabio Grosso, a defender with only one international goal to his name at that point, who fired a perfect left-footed shot curling into the far corner of Jens Lehmann’s net. The air was knocked out of the stadium completely and Italy were even able to score a second goal through Alessandro Del Piero before Germany heard the merciful final whistle.
2, Argentina 0-4 Germany: 2010 World Cup Quarter Final
By 2010 Joachim Loew was close to perfecting his system with the national team, although they would once again fall short in the semi final. After comfortably eliminating England in the first knockout round, almost causing a national enquiry back in London, Germany were drawn against Argentina in Cape Town for the quarter final.
Diego Maradona’s presence as coach had given all back in Buenos Aires hope of their first world cup triumph since the diminutive playmaker carried the team to glory in Mexico back in 1986. Having negotiated the group phase comfortably, Maradona seemed to have unlocked the full potential of his team, with Lionel Messi leading the charge.
However, outside concerns about the quality of Maradona’s coaching would quickly come to the fore as Loew’s charges eased to one of the more dominant victories of Africa’s first World Cup. Thomas Muller opened the scoring after just three minutes but the South American team simply couldn’t deal with the constant wave of German attacking moves.
It may have taken Miroslav Klose until the 68th minute to add a second goal, but from there La Albiceleste collapsed to a 4-0 defeat with Arne Friedrich scoring before Klose netted his second of the afternoon. Maradona’s tactics had failed and he would soon be out of a job, but for Loew and Germany people were now sitting up and really taking note of their progress.
3, Argentine 3-2 West Germany: 1986 World Cup Final
114,000 fans crammed into the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City to watch the World Cup final that Mexico had never imagined they would see again so soon after hosting the tournament as recently as 1970. Financial issues with Colombia’s initially successful bid ensured Mexico would once again be given the honour of hosting, becoming the first of only five nations to do so more than once.
Maradona had lit up the tournament with his exploits, even if the clash with England in the quarter final would be most remembered for his ‘hand of God’ goal. He scored five goals throughout the tournament and was voted as the Best player, although he wouldn’t find the net in the final.
Argentina’s momentum had grown as the tournament had progressed, they hadn’t lost a match since arriving in North America, whilst the West German side coached by Beckenbauer had yet to truly capture the imagination.
The final was a true classic, it was the last World Cup final to see more than three goals scored. Jose Luis Brown opened the scoring with Jorge Valdano doubling the Argentinean lead just after half time. South American celebrations proved to be premature though as their European counterparts managed to find a way back into the game.
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge pulled a goal back before Rudi Voller nodded home from close range to draw the match level. This goal seemed as though it flicked a switch within the Argentine camp, the complacency which had plagued them disappeared as Jorge Luis Burruchaga poked home the winning goal to hand Maradona and the country their finest ever moment.
4, Brazil 1-7 Germany: 2014 World Cup Semi Final
As Klinsmann’s Germany had experienced in 2006, Brazil were living through the pressures of being expected to lift the trophy on home soil in 2014. Belo Horizonte was the backdrop to arguably the most shocking World Cup match to ever be played, perhaps more for the sensations it send around the globe than the quality of football on show from both sides.
Crushed by Neymar’s injury in the quarter final against Colombia, the Selecao were left stunned by a German team right at their peak after eight years of work from Loew. After just 29 minutes of play it was 5-0 to Germany with Muller, Klose, Toni Kroos and Sami Khedira finding the net.
Brazil as a nation were stunned, they couldn’t believe what was happening and every goal brought a wave of silence across the stadium. Further strikes from Andre Schurrle in the second half ensured the final score was 7-1 in favour of the eventual winners, and Brazil’s dream of redemption for the 1950 World Cup disaster was over.
5, West Germany 1-1 England (West Germany won 4-3 on penalties): 1990 World Cup Semi Final
The summer of 1990 is remembered as the one of the brightest periods in English football history. After several off-pitch incidents and disappointing performances in recent tournaments, the reputation of Sir Bobby Robson’s English national team was at a record low, but all that was about to change.
Paul Gascoigne energised a nation with his flamboyant performances and in the blink of an eye, England had qualified for the semi final against their old rivals, West Germany. It was England’s best performance since they lifted the trophy back in 1966, and the match was to be an instant classic.
Both sides were evenly matched with each goalkeeper making crucial saves at either end, and there were no sign of nerves from Robson’s charges. Andreas Brehme’s free-kick took a wicked deflection off an on-rushing Paul Parker before looping over Peter Shilton into the net.
After having arguably had the best chances, England were now chasing the game desperately, hoping to find the goal that would keep them in the tournament. Gary Lineker would score this goal with a fine left footed finish across Bodo Illgner and into the far corner.
The romance with which Italia 90 is remembered in England is noteworthy, it remains the nation’s greatest chance of success on the biggest stage in the lifetime of most adults, although it would end in familiar heartbreak.
Gascoigne’s yellow card ruled him out of any potential final and from there everything seemed to go wrong. Chris Waddle could have won the game but his shot hit the post and bounced clear, before it was the dreaded penalty shoot-out.
West Germany didn’t miss a trick, they scored all four of their spot kicks with Stuart Pearce and Waddle missing their respective penalties to set up a final with Argentina in Rome.