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The German and English soccer teams have been playing against each other since the beginning of the 19th century, and they had their first official match in 1930. The English consider Germany to be one of their fiercest rivals in soccer and famously defeated the Germans in the 1966 World Cup final. However, it is an English phenomenon as the Germans consider their rivalry with the Netherlands or Italy to be of far greater importance.
There have been many encounters between the two great nations and we are going to be looking at the intense rivalry that has developed between them. Even though the Germans don’t consider the English to be their traditional rivals in soccer, they have been involved in quite a few intense and historic games with the English soccer team.
The Rivalry Between England and Germany “Early Encounters”
There have been numerous historic matches between England and Germany, and the first officially recorded one was played in 1930. However, the Football Association (FA) had initiated a four match tour of Germany in 1899, where the English side dominated their German counterparts. However, those matches weren’t recognized as official matches and thus didn’t hold much regard even though the English were clearly the superior side in these matches.
The first official match between England and Germany was played in 1930, which was a friendly match played in Berlin. England was clearly winning the game, but after an injury to their player, they were down 3-2 in the match until a goal from David Jack late in the game brought the score to 3-3 and that is how the match ended in a draw. The next match to be played between the two sides was in 1935 in London at White Hart Lane.
It was the first full international match to be played between the two nations since the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis in 1933. However, there were claims that the match was being used as propaganda by the Nazi regime and there was controversy surrounding the game before it had even begun. The match was fairly won by England 3-0, and the Germans were chivalrous in defeat, lauding their English counterparts with praise for their display.
The next game to be played between the two countries was before the Second World War and was the most controversial game of the early encounters. The English players were forced to perform a Nazi salute out of respect for their hosts. The match was played in Germany at the Olympic stadium in Berlin in 1938, and England comfortably won the encounter 6-3. However, the Germans weren’t that concerned about losing to England in such a manner because everyone lost to the English at that period. The propaganda effect of the game was more important to the Germans, and the two countries would not meet on a soccer field for sixteen years.
It was also the last time that England had faced a unified German national team in a contest till the 1990s. There were two German states founded in 1949, with the German national team continuing to play under the West Germany moniker and the other national team was East Germany. It was in a friendly at Wembley stadium after 16 years in 1954 where England would play against West Germany in a match that the English comfortably won 3-1. The West German side had been under-strength but they were the official champions of the world back then as they had won the 1954 World Cup.
Famous Matches Between England and Germany
A rivalry such as the one shared between England and Germany is bound to produce a ton of exciting and famous matches and that has proven to be the case. There have been plenty of encounters among the two great nations that have shown the soccer world some incredible spectacles. The matches between England and Germany have always been marred with controversy rearing its head in most matches. Even though they have played several friendly encounters, you can safely say that official matches between England and Germany are the ones that brought the most memories to fans of soccer.
Now, we shall take a look at some of the famous matches between England and Germany, which got the whole world talking about the sport. These matches included the following:
1966: FIFA World Cup Final
Both England and Germany had a successful World Cup run in 1966 and both teams met in the final, which would go down into the history books as one of the most controversial finals. It was the first time that the two nations had met in a competitive game and the controversy in the game is what sparked the rivalry between the two nations. England was leading 2-1 until the end of the game, but a German goal brought the scores level and took the game to extra time.
In the first period of extra time, it was a goal from Geoff Hurst that sparked controversy. Hurst had a shot at goal and the ball bounced down from the cross bar and then went out of goal before it was cleared away by the defenders. However, the England players began celebrating the goal, but the referee was unsure about whether the ball had crossed the line. The referee consulted with the linesman and then gave the goal to England. Germany didn’t believe the ball had crossed the line but they had to get on with the game.
Then towards the end of extra time, England scored another controversial goal that put the score 4-2 in favor of the English team. It was a goal that came about after fans started storming the field, believing that the game was all over, which would have stopped play under normal circumstances. The goal was a third in the game for English striker Geoff Hurst, as he became the only man to score a hattrick in the final of a World Cup.
1970: FIFA World Cup Quarterfinals
The next competitive match between England and Germany would be held in 1970 in the Quarterfinals of the FIFA world cup in Mexico. The match was going England’s way as they had been winning 2-0 until two goals from the Germans brought the match to 2-2 in the second half. The match ended as a draw and headed into extra time where a goal from Geoff Hurst was ruled out mysteriously, and then Gerd Muller went on to score in extra time and win the game 3-2 for the Germans.
It was the first time that the Germans had beaten the English in a competitive fixture, and England had already been weakened by losing their goalkeeper Gordon Banks, who had fallen ill earlier on. England had also substituted their leading player Bobby Charlton midway through the German comeback and would go on to rue that substitution as many believed that it had changed the game. The result was a psychologically damaging one for the English team, and the defeat marked the start of two decades of German dominance over the English, as their national team crumbled.
1990 and 1996: FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro Championships
England and Germany played several friendly matches between the 1970s and 80s with wins for both countries, but the next competitive meeting between the two nations that would make history would be at the 1990 FIFA World Cup. England had qualified for the semi-finals and it was the furthest they had come ever since their victory in the 1966 World Cup.
However, Germany stood in their way and proved to be a thorn in their side. The English team had started the tournament poorly and few had expected them to make it to the semi-finals. However, once there they were expected to go head to head with the strong German team. The match was one in which neither side dominated for long periods. The Germans took the lead with a free kick in the 59th minute and the English equalized in the 80th minute through a goal from Gary Lineker.
The match went into extra time and no team could emerge as the winner, so the game had to be decided by a penalty shootout. The Germans won the shootout 4-3 after Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle missed for the English side. Germany would go on to win the World Cup after defeating Argentina in the final.
England’s next match against Germany would come in the semi-finals of the UEFA Euro Championships. England went into the lead thanks to top scorer Alan Shearer’s header but the Germans equalized and got back into the match. The build-up to the match had been marred with controversy and the tension was paramount in the stands. The game went into extra time and the match would be decided by another penalty shoot-out. This time all five of England’s penalty takers were successful, but so were the Germans, and then Gareth Southgate missed for England and they were out of the competition.
The soccer matches between England and Germany are always ones that are hotly contested and are often marred with controversy. There have been many instances where Germany are the ones who have benefitted from the controversy, such as the 2010 World Cup quarterfinals, but the English have had their fair share of controversial moments as well.
A rivalry such as the one shared between these two great football nations is one that will live long in the memory, and whenever these two teams meet, they put up a spectacle. One can only wait for the next time England meets Germany in a match as it is surely going to be one to be remembered.