The 1966 World Cup Final between England and West Germany is possibly the most famous football match ever played. The fixture took place at Wembley Stadium, the nation that invented the sport became the world champions, the match featured the only ever hat-trick in a World Cup final and the Queen of England presented the trophy to Bobby Moore. England’s friendly international in Germany on Saturday has a great deal to live up to and will probably come up short!
Germans to this day say England’s third goal in the 1996 final should not have stood. The ball after a shot from Geoff Hurst hit the underside of the bar and bounced over or not over the line. Surely if there was any doubt Roger Hunt would have made sure by knocking in the ball but he started to celebrate. Younger readers may refer to YouTube to understand this ramble. The Russian linesman judged the ball had crossed the line and the goal was legitimate but nobody is still really sure.
Anyway West Germany’s fluky goal in the semi-final of Italia 90 redressed the balance of the perceived injustice. The ball looped over Peter Shilton’s head from a deflected free-kick that was going nowhere. The boy Lineker equalised with ten minutes of normal time remaining before Waddle and Pearce became famous in front of about 25 million viewers by missing penalties while Germany never looked like failing from 12 yards.
In the last eight of the 1970 World Cup England led Germany 2-0 in the second half. Gordon Banks, the best keeper in the world at the time, could not play because of a dodgy stomach. Germany won the match 3-2 after extra time after some questionable goal keeping from the reserve, Peter Bonetti. In Euro 1996 when football came home Germany beat England on penalties in the semi-finals. Darren Anderton missed a sitter from four yards and Gazza could not stretch out his foot another six inches otherwise England would probably have won their own European championships.
Another classic between two main players in the European Union (until June 23rd maybe) was England’s 5-1 win in Munich in 2001 which was Seven-Goran Eriksson’s finest hour. That side containing Beckham, Owen, Scholes and Gerrard (and Heskey) could and maybe should have won the World Cup in 2002. Only Ronaldinho knows if he meant to chip David Seaman in the quarter finals but the goal decided the outcome of the tie and Brazil went on to beat Germany in the final. England could have won three World Cups by now except for some if, buts and maybes while West Germany and Germany combined have won in four total.
That’s enough of all our yesterday’s so now we must focus on the fixture this weekend. Germany are the world champions and ranked number four in the FIFA world rankings. England stank out the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and then qualified for the finals of Euro 2016 without dropping a point, scoring 31 goals and conceding three. England are five places behind Germany in the current standings, between Colombia and Austria. Wales are a further six places further down the rankings. Northern Ireland come in at number 28, Scotland are languishing in 45th place and the Republic of Ireland are 29th in the classification of international teams.
Since the unification of East and West Germany in 1989 England and Germany have met in 11 internationals. England have won three of those fixtures and the only draw was the 1990 World Cup semi-final in Italy from which Germany qualified for the final after extra-time and penalties. Matches since 1989 have produced 28 goals, both teams have scored on seven occasions and the total has been over 2.5 goals six times. There has never been a goalless draw and no match has produced more than one goal for both sides. Based on these numbers a low-scoring win for either side is expected.
In team news there is a chance that four Tottenham players will start for England in Berlin on Saturday. Harry Kane must play from the start in the Euros and that means his mates, Dele Alli and Eric Dier, should be included against Germany and Danny Rose is a contender for the left back position. Wayne Rooney is absent through injury but he could miss out in the Euros if Roy Hodgson pairs Kane with Jamie Vardy. The new name in the squad is Danny Drinkwater who has played a key role in the miracle that is Leicester City winning the Premier League, or almost.
Germany are a team in transition but some old stalwarts are still involved. Thomas Muller was the joint leading scorer in the 2010 World Cup and Mario Gotze scored the winning goal in the 2014 final against Argentina. Lukas Podolski and Mesut Ozil won’t let their country down and Manuel Neuer is the best keeper in the world. However, correct score bettors may consider 4-2 or 5-1 to England.
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