The FIFA World Cup is one of the biggest sporting events, if not the biggest, in the world. With the Qatar 2022 World Cup on the horizon, we are looking at some of the biggest rivalries the competition has created.
First up, we will cover the rivalry between great rivals England and Germany, whose rivalry almost goes back to the start of football.
The early rivalry
England and Germany have been playing each other unofficially since the backend of the 19th century. However, the first official meeting of the two teams was in a friendly game in 1930 that produced a 3-3 draw, although the teams had first met in 1888. England had won all four meetings between the teams before the Berlin draw.
At the time of the draw, English football was admired by many Germans, with England considered to be one of the best teams in the world, whereas the game had not yet taken full hold in Germany.
The teams next met at White Hart Lane in 1935. It was the first meeting of the two teams on English soil and the first to take place during Adolf Hitler’s reign as German Chancellor. The game produced a 3-0 home win, although afterwards, many remarked that the game was played in a good spirit.
England triumph in first World Cup meeting: 1966 final
The first-ever meeting of the two teams at a World Cup came in the now-famous 1966 final at Wembley, in which England won 4-2 in extra time. In fact, not only was it the first time the two teams had met at a World Cup, it was their first-ever competitive meeting.
The two teams had met earlier that year in a friendly game that England won 1-0. The game also saw an international debut for a certain West Ham striker, Geoff Hurst.
The final at Wembley in 66’ is still considered by many as one of the most exciting in the history of the competition. Germany took the lead on 12 minutes, as Helmut Haller’s header from a Sigfried Held cross beat Gordon Banks in the home goal.
The lead didn’t last long, though, as six minutes later, Hurst rose unchallenged to head home the equaliser. The game remained level until 13 minutes from time when England scored their second goal. A Hurst shot deflected to his West Ham teammate Martine Peters, who scored from eight yards out.
Alf Ramsey’s England looked set to win the World Cup for the first time. However, with just a minute remaining on the clock, Wolfgang Weber scored the equaliser after a goalmouth scramble. The goal took the game into extra time.
The Three Lions dominated the early stages and, 11 minutes into extra time, scored what is now one of the most talked-about goals of all time. Alan Ball found Hurst, who turned and shot towards goal. His effort hit the underside of the bar and bounced clear.
The Swiss referee was unsure if the ball had crossed the line, so he consulted his Azerbaijani linesman Tofiq Bahramov, who informed him that the ball had indeed crossed the line. To this day, people are still arguing if the ball crossed the line. Where was goalline technology when we needed no doubt many German fans are saying!
With Germany desperately seeking an equalising goal, England scored a fourth goal on the counter-attack with just a minute left on the clock. Hurst picked up the ball from a Bobby Moore pass and drove towards goal. The forward fired the ball into Hans Tilkowski’s top corner.
Hurst later admitted that he mishit the effort and was actually attempting to waste time by hitting the ball into the crowd. Hurst’s third goal led to the famous line, “And here comes Hurst. He’s got… some people are on the pitch; they think it’s all over. It is now! It’s four!” by commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme.
The victory remains England’s only ever World Cup triumph, and still, some claim that the Three Lions didn’t deserve it due to the controversial nature of their third goal.
The two teams met in a friendly match two years later, with Germany recording a 1-0 win thanks to a Franz Beckenbauer goal. The win was Germany’s first-ever victory over England. The celebrations were significant, despite the fact that England were far from full strength for the defeat.
A memorable second meeting in the 1970 World Cup
The second meeting of the two teams at a World Cup was certainly a memorable one. England took a two-goal lead, but second-half efforts from Beckenbauer and Uwe Seeler brought Germany level. England lost both Gordon Banks and Bobby Charlton through injury before Hurst had a goal ruled out early in extra time with little explanation.
Germany were to get their revenge for the defeat four years earlier, as legendary Bayern Munich forward Gerd Muller scored the winner to send Die Mannschaft through to the semi-finals.
Gazza’s tears and penalty drama in 90’
The two teams then met in various friendlies and a dull second-round group game in the 1982 World Cup that finished 0-0. The next memorable meeting between the two teams came in Italia ’90, as the two teams faced off in the competition’s semi-finals.
The Germans, now managed by Beckenbauer, took the lead on 59th minutes in somewhat fortuitous circumstances, as Andreas Brehme’s free-kick took a massive deflection off Paul Parker and looped over Peter Shilton in the England goal. With just ten minutes left on the clock, Gary Lineker equalised for England and took the game into extra time. David Platt thought he had scored the winning goal in extra time, only to see his goal ruled out.
In the end, the game finished in a stalemate and was decided by the dreaded penalty shootout. Germany came out on top in the shootout after misses from Chris Waddle and Stuart Pearce. Germany went on to beat Argentina in the final to become World Cup champions once again.
In England, one of the lasting memories of the game is midfield playmaker Paul Gascoigne crying after receiving his second yellow card of the tournament, meaning that he would miss the final if England made it that far. Instead, he only missed a defeat against host nation Italy in the third-place play-off.
Clashes in the qualifying for World Cup 2002
The two teams meet in friendly matches before meeting in qualifying for the 2002 World Cup. Germany recorded a 1-0 win at Wembley courtesy of a Dietmar Hamann goal, a defeat that led to the exit of England head coach Kevin Keegan.
The reverse fixture produced a far bigger scoreline, as England romped to a 5-1 win in Munich under new boss Sven-Goran Eriksson. A Michael Owen hat-trick, along with goals from Steven Gerrard and Emile Heskey, inflicted Germany’s biggest-ever home competitive defeat. England won the group but exited the competition at the quarter-finals stage, while Germany finished as runners-up.
More controversy in World Cup 2010
The next time the pair met in a World Cup game came in the second round of the 2010 World Cup. Germany recorded a convincing 4-1 win. However, there was significant controversy at 2-1 to Germany, as England midfielder Frank Lampard saw an effort hit the bar and go over the line.
Neither the referee nor his assistant saw the ball cross the line, and Germany went on to score two more goals. Many in Germany claim that the decision is payback for the 1966 decision on Hurst’s goal. However, this time around, it was not hard to see that the ball had clearly crossed the line. The 4-1 defeat was England’s heaviest in World Cup history.
The pair could meet again at the 2022 World Cup
The pair have not met in the World Cup since that controversial 2010 game. However, the two old rivals could well meet once again in the 2022 World Cup held in Qatar. Both teams will be highly confident of making it out of the group stages, so who knows, their paths may well cross again before 2022 is out.
However, if history has told us anything about World Cup games between these two teams, it is that they tend to produce drama, tension, controversy and also entertainment. It could be a fascinating encounter if the two teams meet in Qatar.