As Gary Lineker once famously remarked: “Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and, at the end, the Germans win.” England fans will be hoping the former striker is proved wrong when the old foes meet at Wembley in what is undoubtedly the top tie of Euro 2020’s first knockout round. Memories will inevitably turn back to the Euro 96 clash at the stadium’s predecessor, but which other matches are among the most famous meetings between England and Germany?
6 classic England vs. Germany matches
England 4-2 West Germany (AET) – 1966 World Cup final
It is rarely remembered that the 1966 World Cup final was actually the first time England and West Germany had met in a competitive fixture. They did play each other in a pre-tournament friendly a few months before the World Cup, which is notable as it was when Geoff Hurst made his first appearance for the Three Lions.
Hurst probably would not have started the World Cup final had Jimmy Greaves been available, but the striker was injured and so the West Ham man got his opportunity. Everyone knows what happened next: Hurst hit a hat-trick, including a strike that bounced in off the underside of the bar, prompting debate to this day over whether or not it crossed the line.
England 2-3 West Germany (AET) – 1970 World Cup quarter-final
West Germany would not have to wait long for revenge, knocking England out in the quarter-finals of the next World Cup in another of the pair’s classic matches. Alan Mullery and Martin Peters struck either side of half-time to give England a 2-0 advantage, but Germany produced one of the World Cup’s classic comebacks.
Goals from Franz Beckenbauer and Uwe Seeler drew West Germany level to force extra time, with Hurst having a goal controversially ruled out during the added period. The great Gerd Muller then popped up with the winner to break England hearts. It would not be the last time.
Germany went no further, going out to Italy in the semi-finals after another epic that went to extra time, with the Azzurri triumphing 4-3 thanks to Gianni Rivera’s winner.
West Germany 1–1 England (AET) – 1990 World Cup semi-final
It was a similar story 20 years later in Italy. England had reached the semi-finals of the World Cup for the first time since 1966, but it was as far as they got after a defeat on penalties. Andreas Brehme’s free kick deflected in off Paul Parker but England levelled through Lineker. England could have won it in extra time but David Platt’s goal was ruled out for offside.
Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle then missed their spot kicks, allowing West Germany to progress – they then beat Argentina in the final. Along with the penalties, this clash is obviously remembered for Paul Gascoigne’s tears – and Lineker’s gif-able reaction – after he was shown a yellow card that meant he would have missed the final, had England made it, due to suspension.
England 1-1 Germany (Germany won 6-5 on penalties) – Euro 96 semi-final
Gascoigne was inches away from the ultimate redemption at Euro 96 as football threatened to come home, but it was not to be. More penalties. More tears. More heartbreak for England.
This time it was Gareth Southgate who missed from the spot, enabling Andreas Moller to score and send Germany into the final, where they beat the Czech Republic 2-1 in extra time.
Alan Shearer’s early header was cancelled out by Stefan Kuntz with neither side able to nudge ahead even in the added 30 minutes. Along with Gazza’s close call, England missed a golden chance to secure victory when Darren Anderton somehow hit the post with the goal gaping.
Germany 1-5 England – 2002 World Cup qualifier
England and Germany faced off not long later in World Cup qualifying. Dietmar Hamann secured a 1-0 win in what was the last game at the old Wembley before it was demolished with Kevin Keegan resigning as the hosts’ manager in the immediate aftermath.
England enjoyed one of their finest hours in the return game, though, demolishing Germany 5-1 in Munich despite Carsten Jancker striking first in of their best performances in matches between the pair. Michael Owen scored a brilliant hat-trick with Steven Gerrard and Emile Heskey also on target in a comprehensive rout for the Three Lions.
Germany 4-1 England – 2010 World Cup second round
Thomas Muller will have fond memories of facing England at a major international tournament, as his brace in Bloemfontein set up this victory for Joachim Low’s side. Shoddy defending let in Miroslav Klose for the opeer and Germany made it 2-0 through Lukas Podolski.
Matthew Upson made amends for his role in the Klose goal by heading in and, moments later, England thought they were level when Frank Lampard’s strike crashed against the crossbar. Inevitably drawing parallels with Hurst’s goal in the 1966 World Cup, this time officials ruled the ball had not crossed the line, though replays showed it was at least a foot over.
Protests from players fell on deaf ears and they collapsed after the break, Muller netting twice to convert rapid Germany counter-attacks that exploited England’s lack of pace at the back.
Southgate and his England players will be hoping to banish historic painful memories of facing Germany on Tuesday at Wembley in the latest of the long list of matches the pairs have played. They have the chance to become heroes. At least this time there will be goal-line technology.
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