As the 2018 FIFA World Cup approaches, DFB.de takes you on a journey back through Germany’s previous appearances at the tournament, bringing you everything from historic matches to unusual anecdotes. After finishing runners up in 1986, West Germany were looking to go one better at Italia '90...
Having originally said after the 1986 World Cup that he would lead his country no further than the 1988 European Championships, Franz Beckenbauer finally made the decision to step down from his duties as national team coach at the end of the 1990 tournament.
The man to succeed him would be Berti Vogts, but the fact a decision had already been made on who would lead the team after Italia 1990, didn’t distract Beckenbauer from any of his preparations for his final shot at the ultimate title.
West Germany as a team were fully bedded in and there were barely any selection headaches for ‚Der Kaiser‘ as the tournament approached. Bodo Illgner in goal, Thomas Berthold, Andreas Brehme and Klaus Augenthaler across the back with Thomas Häßler, Uwe Bein, Olaf Thon and Andreas Möller taking care of the midfield to allow Lothar Matthäus or Guido Buchwald to open the door for the most harmonious strikeforce in the world: Rudi Völler and Jürgen Klinsmann.
Support for Beckenbauer and his team was terrific throughout the tournament given the close proximty of West Germany’s group fixtures in Milan to the German border – for many it was a simply a long day trip.
Though no one knew it at the time, it would be the final time Germany played at a World Cup as a non-unified nation. ‚West Germany‘ as a World Cup country went out on a high.
24 teams qualified for the tournament, and were drawn out using a seeding process into six groups. The top two from each group qualified for the final sixteen and were joined there by the four highest-scoring third-place teams.
30,000 Germans were in the San Siro to witness the opening group game, and those who made the journey across the border were treated to ‘a German footballing lesson from the year 2000’ in the words of one newspaper, as Beckenbauer’s side confidently got their campaign underway with a 4-1 win.
Matthäus’ wonderful opener set the two-time winners on their way, before Klinsmann rose to head in a second and despite Davor Jozic briefly halfing the deficit, a further strike from Matthäus and before Völler was deemed to have scored the fourth goal after some initial confusion as to whether or not he had touched Brehme’s effort.
The plaudits at full time went to Matthäus, who completed all of his 49 passes in the game.
“Lothar was brilliant and an inspirational captain,” said Beckenbauer. “It was practically the perfect performance with the perfect result,” added the coach and former World Cup winner.
The head of the UAE’s Football Association gave his country no chance of overcoming the West Germans in the second group game after losing their opening encounter to Colombia.
He would be proved right, as the only thing in the air that night was inclement weather, and lots of it. Those in the stands watching on got absolutely soaked. It rained goals on the pitch too.
The first half hour saw Klinsmann in his own personal battle with the UAE defence, missing three opportunities to open the scoring before Völler found the back of the net after the half hour, before Klinsmann got his goal two minutes later.
The newcomers caused a stir immediately after the break by getting their first ever tournament goal, before Matthäus restored the two-goal advantage within 60 seconds. Uwe Bein’s stunner with his weaker foot made it four and Völler rounded out the scoring with another header towards the end.
Guido Buchwald said afterwards that the game had felt more like a friendly against a side from the regional leagues of Germany. Nobody was getting ahead of themselves – tougher tests lay in wait.
Qualification to the last 16 had already been secured, but top spot in the group was still up for grabs in Milan.
Beckenbauer saw no need to rotate his squad, though that wasn’t to everyone’s taste. Pierre Littbarski voiced his frustrations. “It’s annoying because I get hooked even if I play well.”
He would stand vindicated, as the left back fired the West Germans into the lead in the 90th minutes, on a night when several big stars had been quiet.
Ironically, it wasn’t enough to win the game, as Colombia put a damper on proceedings by leveling things up with the final kick of the game.
Beckenbauer was frank in his review: “It was a game we wanted to win, even though we didn’t have to. It’s no bad thing we’ve had this little setback.”
Beckenbauer got his wish for the last 16 when the draw was made and the old enemy the Netherlands appeared from the hat with West Germany – “at last a tough opponent,” he said.
The national coach had been in the side that beat the Dutch in the 1974 World Cup final to give Germany its first star, and the pre-cursor to this second round clash could not have been more tasty.
West Germany wanted revenge for the 1988 European Championship semi-final defeat and the whole game had an Italian Derby feel to it, with Brehme, Matthäus and Klinsmann with Inter at the time and Dutchmen Frank Rijkaard, Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten all at AC Milan. The venue for the game? The San Siro.
To say the match was feisty was an understatement. Both sides were down to 10 men before the midway point in the first half, as Rijkaard and Völler came to blows in a scuffle which saw both men sent off.
It didn’t remain 0-0 for long after the break, with Klinsmann firing in the opener before Brehme doubled the lead with five minutes left.
There was time for the Dutch to make it a nervy finish as Ronald Koeman scored from the spot, but West Germany held on to reach another World Cup quarter final.
Klinsmann dedicated his goal to the dismissed Völler, while Beckenbauer declared: “Anyone who beats the Netherlands, can beat any country.”
Czechoslovakia came into this game off the back of a runner-up finish in a group containing hosts Italy, who had been the only team to defat them up to that point.
What’s more, despite two comfortable opening wins for Germany, the Czechs had scored more goals than Beckenbauer’s side to that point (12-11).
For the fifth time in succession, the San Siro was the venue, and it was Matthäus who fired his country into a record ninth World Cup semi-final with a first half penalty.
It had been far from a performance of champions though, with Beckenbauer remarking that he was unable to repeat what he had told his players in the dressing room at full time to the press.
The result however was the perfect send off for the stadium in Milan, as West Germany headed to Turin for their final four clash, where another old adversary lay in wait.
The host nation may have been in mourning following a gutting 2-1 loss to Argentina in the semi-final the night before, but there was plenty of press interest in the second last four clash in the Stadio del Alpi.
English newspaper The Sun wrote in the lead up to the match: “We beat them in 1945, we beat them in 1966, now it’s time for the battle of 1990.”
Kick off saw West Germany become the nation to play the most World Cup games (67), overtaking Brazil at the top of that particular statistic – an order which still stands to this day.
Goalless at half time, this one turned into the classic it would go on to be known as after the break, even if the opening goal did come in fortuitous circumstances for West Germany, as Brehme’s free kick looped off the approaching Paul Parker to perfectly lob Peter Shilton in the England goal.
Despite the introduction of defensive midfielder Stefan Räuter to try and see the game out, this one went to extra time, as Gary Lineker’s neat finish ten minutes from the end gave England hope.
Both sides had their chances in extra time, with Shilton doing well to deny Klinsmann’s header before the whole of Germany held its breath as Chris Waddle headed against the post with the clock ticking down.
It meant penalties. Twice before had West Germany found themselves in a deciding shootout, and twice they had triumphed. July 4th 1990 would be no different.
The first six kicks were tucked away convincingly, as neither Lineker, Peter Beardsley or David Platt for England nor Brehme, Matthäus or Karl-Heinz Riedle gave the opposing goalkeeper the chance.
Then came Stuart Pearce. The defender’s central penalty was kept out by Bodo Illgner in the West German goal and all of a sudden Beckenbauer’s boys stood on the brink of a record third World Cup final.
Olaf Thon, of whom Beckenbauer once said you could call at 3am in the morning and ask to take a penalty to get the reply ‘no problem!’ pushed the two-time winners in front before Chris Waddle, who admitted after he had never taken a penalty before skied the fifth and final English spot kick to send West Germany to the final.
An attractive game of high-quality had left the West Germans completely exhausted. “I slept in the bath,” recalled Klaus Augenthaler afterwards.
Tired they may have been, but they had another star in their eyes.
40,000 Germans made the trip to Rome for the final. The stands in the Stadio Olimpico were decorated with West Germany flags and even the Italians were behind Beckenbauer’s side – Argentina had knocked the hosts out en route to the final and two Germany players plied their trade in Rome at the time, Berthold and Völler.
It was an an opportunity the whole of West Germany had been waiting four years for, to finally avenge the 3-2 defeat in Mexico City.
An opportunity, that they grabbed with both hands, as Beckenbauer’s side dominated the tournament decider, amassing 23 shots to Argentina’s 1.
The Argentines had already created unwanted history when Pedro Monzon became the first player to be sent off in a World Cup final.
With 84 minutes on the clock the game remained goalless. That was until West Germany were awarded a penalty, and with regular taker Matthäus having come off at half time with a knock, it was left to Andreas Brehme to step up.
“It never occurred to me what the penalty might mean,” said Brehme after slotting away the winning goal.
Argentina finished the game with nine men as Gustavo Dezotti received his marching orders in the closing stages, and when the final whistle blew they also became the first side not to score in a World Cup final.
Street parties broke out all around West Germany at full time, as the nation toasted a third World Cup triumph following successes in Switzerland in 1954 and on home soil in 1974.
Beckenbauer pulled no punches with his post match words. “Never before have I seen such deserving world champions,” he said, before going on to declare that “Germany will go years and years without being beaten.”
50,000 people turned out the next day at Frankfurt’s Römer (Town Hall), where Kings of Germany were coronated in the Middle Ages, to welcome home and celebrate a team that had sent their King off into retirement with the crown he so richly craved.
West Germany 4-1 Yugoslavia 10 June 1990, San Siro, Milan (74,765 spectators)
Goals: 1-0 Matthäus (28‘), 2-0 Klinsmann (40‘), 2-1 Jozic (55‘), 3-1 Matthäus (63‘), 4-1 Völler (70‘)
West Germany 5-1 United Arab Emirates 15 June 1990, San Siro, Milan (71,167 spectators)
Goals: 1-0 Völler (35‘), 2-0 Klinsmann (37‘), 2-1 Mubarak (46‘), 3-1 Matthäus (47‘), 4-1 Bein (58‘), 5-1 Völler (74‘)
West Germany 1-1 Colombia 19 June 1990, San Siro, Milan (72,510 spectators)
Goals: Goals: 1-0 Littbarski (89‘), 1-1 Rincon (92‘)
ROUND OF 16
West Germany 2-1 Netherlands 24 June 1990, San Siro, Milan (74,559 spectators)
Goals: 1-0 Klinsmann (51‘), 2-0 Brehme (82‘), 2-1 R. Koeman (88‘, pen)
West Germany 1-0 Czechoslovakia 1 July 1990, San Siro, Milan (73,347 spectators)
Goals: 1-0 Matthäus (25’, pen)>/p>
West Germany 1-1 England (West Germany win 4-3 on penalties) 4 July 1990, Stadio delle Alpi, Turin (62,628 spectators)
Goals: 1-0 Brehme (60’, pen), Lineker (80’) Penalties: 0-1 Lineker, 1-1 Brehme, 1-2 Beardsley, 2-2 Matthäus, 3-2 Platt, 3-3 Riedle, Pearce (X), 4-3 Thon, Waddle (X)
West Germany 1-0 Argentina 8 July 1990, Stadio Olimpico, Rome (73,603 spectators)
Goals: Brehme (85’, pen)###more###