Sunday, June 27, 2010

England versus Germany

Today England and Germany will face one another in one of the most classic rivalries in international football. The matches between these two European giants have always been immersed in drama, and cultural, historical and social associations.

This will be the fifth time that the two countries will be playing each other in a World Cup, which include some of the most legendary matches in football history:
  • The 1966 World Cup final, where England won 4-2 after extra time, and remains England's greatest international triumph
  • The 1970 World Cup quarterfinal, where Germany got their revenge for the 1966 final: England were 2-0 up but the Germans managed to equalize and won 3-2 after extra time.
  • The 1982 World Cup second round group match, which ended 0-0, and was enough to send the Germans through to the semifinals.
  • The 1990 World Cup semifinal: One of the most dramatic matches of all time, which ended 1-1 for Germany to win it in the end by penalty kicks, and going on to become world champions
Other legendary matches the two countries have played are in the European championships:
  • Quarterfinal of Euro 1972 (back then it was played in two-legs at home and away), where the Germans won 3-1 at Wembley (Germany's first victory there) and the teams tied 0-0 in Berlin. Germany went on to win the entire tournament.
  • The Euro 1996 semifinal: England was playing at home and had huge expectations to win the tournament. But the Germans were in the way in the semifinal, which as 6 years before in the World Cup, ended 1-1 and went into penalty kicks, which the Germans won.
  • First round of Euro 2000: England defeated Germany 1-0 in the group stages, but this did not matter to either team, who were eliminated by Portugal and Romania.
For the 2002 World Cup the two teams were in the same qualifying group, and Germany won 1-0 in London, but were destroyed 5-1 in Munich in what still remains the largest victory for England between the two countries.
The last time the two teams played was in a friendly match (as friendly as it gets between the two) in Berlin in 2008 which England won 2-1 on a late goal by John Terry.

That the teams will be facing each other already in the 2010 World Cup is perhaps a bit of a surprise: England was probably expecting to win their group, while the young German team (it is one of the youngest German teams ever to play in a World Cup) surprised positively by winning their group. Because of the relative inexperience of the Germans, England is probably a slight favourite, although there is no doubt that Germany played far better than England in the group stages. The English will have to play far better if they are to have a chance against this German side, although I would not be surprised if they will have set themselves up for the challenge.

This match should be obligatory for everyone, as it will only add another drama to the long history of football rivalry between England and Germany!

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