When England and Germany play each other, most people in either country would almost immediately come up with the World Cup Final of 1966. English football supporters would remember fondly England’s day on top of the football world, while the Germans would argue about the injustice suffered at the hands of the referee and his assistant. This is of course justified but limits this football rivalry to just one game when in fact there have been more than 30 matches over the course of more than a hundred years. The current tally stands at 14 victories for Germany and 13 for England highlighting the long history of these two footballing nations. Germany may have had the upper hand by winning the important matches after 1966 especially those in 1970, 1972, 1990 and 1996 or most recently the knock-out match during the 2010 World Cup. Each of these games provide enough space to fill book chapters and magazine articles.
An England team that many described as better than the 1966 World Cup winning blend, the team in Mexico inexplicably squandered a 2-0 lead only to lose 3-2 after extra-time. Largely described as revenge for 1966, the Germans were not on the pitch for the better part of the 90 minutes. Only after an hour or so of play, did they get back into the game. Was it Ramsey’s fault to substitute Bobby Charlton? Or was ot just a bad day at the office for Peter Bonnetti in goal? We’ll never know for sure. What is clear is that this turnaround has now become part of the Anglo-German football folklore.
The game that would haunt England for 30 years not because of the final score of 3-1 but because for the way they saw how far behind they were left technically in contrast to the Germans. It was the beginning of the end for Sir Alf Ramsey; a year later he was gone and replaced by Don Revie. It was the start to a bleak decade for the English national team.
Almost 20 years later England and Germany would meet again in a competitive match. The World Cup semi-final of 1990 was an instant classic. It had everything: two teams going for it, there was drama, there were tears and possibly a very lucky German team.
Gareth Southgate, the current England manager has shown his England team the penalty shoot-out. It is an indicator how strong this game still reverberates with him. Copy/Paste everything there was written for Turin and it gives a good description of the match. This time though the press got nasty.
England nonetheless have provided the odd shock result, most importantly in 2001 in the Olympic Stadium of Munich when the German national team was outplayed and beaten 5-1 in Munich. “5-1 and even Heskey scored” sang the England fans in the years following until Germany beat England again at the new Wembley in 2007. The period between 2000 and 2001 must be considered the worst in German football history as they finished bottom of their group at Euro 2000, behind England! That was the first time England finished ahead of Germany since 1968!
Tradition and Continuity
It seems to be tradition that England beat Germany often at home as they have done last year in Berlin. Moreover, England have always beaten Germany after the latter have won the World Cup. So it was in 1954 in 1975 in 1991 and 2016. With the exception of 1956 when England really were playing in a different class, the second match between these two always went Germany’s way. So it was in 1978 and in 1993. With England arriving without a number of strikers the chances are higher for Germany to win the match, however there is always Jamie Vardy who stunned Germany, England and possibly himself last year with a superb flick of the heel only four minutes after coming on as a substitute. At the end England had overcome Germany in dramatic fashion which gave hope to England and was a warning shot for the Germans. It came at the right time. For England it was once more a false dawn. With no tournament around the bend, tonight’s game will be one among many between England and Germany, though nothing could take the history away from this fixture.