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. Today, we look back at 1994...
It was to be Germany head coach Berti Vogts’s first World Cup and he recalled experienced heads Rudi Völler, 34, and Andreas Brehme, 33. The squad had an average age of 29 – a Germany record for a World Cup to this day.
In blistering heat, the reigning World Cup holders kicked off the tournament in a sold out stadium and 19 million watching on TV. There was only to be one goal in the game and it came in rather comical circumstances. Häßler got through Bolivia’s offside trap and chased after Matthäus’s long ball. Bolivia goalkeeper, Trucco, charged out of his penalty area to clear but slipped at the wrong moment. Häßler knocked the ball to Klinsmann who hit the ball into the open goal on the hour mark. It was the first time in reigning World Cup holders had won their opening game and the first time three points had been awarded to a team in the World Cup for a win.
“He’s the creative force in Barcelona’s midfield. His vision is exceptional,” said Jupp Heynckes on Pep Guardiola. In the two clashes to date, Spain had lost 2-1 to Germany both times. However, this time around they took the lead. With 14 minutes on the clock, Andoni Goicoechea picked up the ball on the right flank and delivered what – at first glance – appeared to be a cross. Yet, the ball flew over the goalkeeper and straight into the back of the net. It was the first goal Germany had conceded in eight World Cup games and there was more than a slice of luck about it. The goal forced Germany to attack, leaving themselves much more exposed to the counter attack. No more goals came in the first half with Spain 1-0 to the good. In the second half, Germany responded immediately. Klinsmann found space from close range and headed home to make it 1-1 in the 58th minute. Fernando Hierro almost pegged Germany back immediately. His long-range strike trickled along the line but went out. Neither team was able to grab a winner and the draw was probably a fair result on reflection.
Temperatures were recorded at around 50 degrees out on the pitch in Texas and the game brought the heat to reflect that. In the 12th minute, Häßler cut the ball across the area from the right flank but the cutback was slightly behind Klinsmann who flicked up the ball, swivelled and volley home on the turn into the bottom left corner. It was a stunning strike and everyone in the stadium rose up in adulation. Minutes later, Germany capitalised further on South Korea’s shock to add a second. Buchwald turned a shot with the outside of his boot onto the post but Riedle was quickest to react and tapped home the rebound to make it 2-0 in twenty minutes. In the 37th minute, it was 3-0. Klinsmann fired home after a free-kick caused confusion in the South Korea penalty area. At the break, South Korea changed goalkeeper, while Germany seemed to take their foot off the gas. Sun-Hong Hwang scored to make it 3-1 in the 51st minute but it would be only a consolation goal… or would it? Suddenly, South Korea were rejuvenated. Defender Myung-Bo Hong tried his luck from range and bamboozled Illgner who was only able to parry the ball into the corner of his own goal. Fortunately, South Korea had given themselves too big of a mountain to climb in the first half and Germany saw out the win to top the group.
Prior to Die Mannschaft’s round of 16 tie, a statement was made by the head of the media team stating Effenberg was no longer part of the squad. However, Effenberg’s teammates and head coach Vogts stood by Effenberg. Though, in the eyes of DFB President Egidius Braun, Effenberg had crossed a line. He packed his bags and left the squad. Die Welt’s headline read “Hello World Champions, wake up and work hard”. The round of 16 clash with Belgium was labelled the game to “decide the fate of German football”. Germany started the game with a statement of intent. Some delightfully intricate build-up play ended with Völler leathering home in the 6th minute. 1-0. However, the lead was very short-lived. Two minutes later, a defensive mix-up allowed Grun to equalise for Belgium. 1-1. The game showed no sign of slowing down though. In the 12th minute, Völler turned provider to Klinsmann who restored Germany’s lead. Soon the lead was extended to three as Rudi Völler headed home to make it 3-1. However, there was one more goal to come. In the final minutes, Albert pulled one back for Belgium to make for a nervy ending but Die Mannschaft held on to progress to the quarter-finals. It was by far Germany’s best performance of the tournament.
In the eight day wait between Germany’s round of 16 clash and quarter-finals, Matthias Sammer picked up an injury which ruled him out. Germany had won their last six clashes with Bulgaria. This clash took place in New York and it was Bulgaria who had the first chance after hitting the woodwork from close range. However, neither side managed to open the scoring in the first half. Though, it did not remain goalless for long in the second half. Klinsmann burst into the penalty area and was fouled. Matthäus stepped up to take the resulting spot-kick and converted coolly. Then, a huge turning point in the game as Möller’s strike hit the post and Völler scored the rebound – but the Columbian referee and assistant called an off-side. A mere two minutes later, Hristo Stoitchkov scored an exceptional free-kick and the game was all-square. The goal rocked Germany to the core as, before they had time to regroup, they were 2-1 down. Letchkov rose highest to head home and send Germany packing at the quarter-final stage. It was the first time Germany hadn’t reached the final for three tournaments. Rudi Völler reflected: “We sat there in silence for about ten minutes.” Germany headed home empty-handed.