Euro 2000 England: Germany
The footballing rivalry between England and Germany has always loomed larger in England than in Germany, where they see the Netherlands as their most intense rivalry. But that didn't stop the intensity as this match was built up as 'The Big One' for the European Championship of 2000.
Post 1966 RecordThe World Cup final defeat in 1966 does rankle in Germany, in particular the ‘non-goal’ that Geoff Hurst scored in extra time to make the score 3-2. But since then Germany have won the World Cup twice, in 1974 when England didn’t even qualify, and in 1990, when they beat England in the semi-finals on penalties.
In addition, they had knocked England out of the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, coming back from two goals down to win 3-2 in the quarter-final, then defeated England 1-3 at Wembley in a two-leg qualifying tie for the 1972 European Championship. The Italia ’90 result was repeated during the 1996 European Championship, hosted by England; when Germany beat England on penalties in the semi-final once more and then went on to win the championship.
Euro 2000 Groups AnnouncedSo although the Germans were pretty relaxed when it was realised that England would face Germany in the group stages of Euro 2000, the English tabloids caught on to the battle between England and Germany, not Portugal and Romania, the other teams. If England could beat Germany, it would be the first time they had done so in a competitive match since the World Cup win.
The German team was not enjoying success during this period; in the World Cup of 1998 they had been shocked by tournament dark horses Croatia, going out 3-0 in the quarter-final. England had been worse, losing to Argentina in the second round, but an under-performing England side wasn’t such a shock back home.
Set up for the ChallengeBy Euro 2000 both sides were under different managers. Bertie Vogts had taken his side to the Euro 92 final and won Euro 1996, but he’d stepped down after the Croatian defeat and been replaced by Erich Ribbeck. In England the FA had failed to support Glenn Hoddle after the press had seized on comments about his religious beliefs that he had made in an interview, and people’s choice Kevin Keegan had reluctantly been pushed into the job.
In the team that Keegan took to Euro 2000, Phil Neville and Steve McManaman had come in for Graham Le Saux and Darren Anderton, but David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Paul Ince, Tony Adams, Michael Owen, Alan Shearer, Gary Neville, Sol Campbell and David Seaman all survived from the 1998 World Cup team. Tony Adams was replaced by Martin Keown for this game as he had been injured in the previous game, as was McManaman, replaced by Dennis Wise.
The Championships were hosted jointly by Belgium and Holland and the game against Germany was to be played in the Belgian city of Charleroi. England had disappointingly lost their first match against Portugal 3-2, after taking a two-goal lead, showing a gap in class against a side who didn’t panic after going behind and outplayed England in a number of areas.
The GameThe omens raised by that performance boded ill and so it proved to be as the game against Germany did not see a vintage performance, and for all the derision heaped upon the Germans, they were technically better and less predictable than England. Despite a poor start to the qualifying process under Hoddle, improvements had been seen in a young side that was learning to be more mobile, happier to keep control of the ball, and less predictable, but all that had now disappeared.
England won with a captain’s goal, a header from an unmarked Alan Shearer from an excellent David Beckham free kick in the 53rd minute. This heralded an onslaught on David Seaman’s goal but poor finishing and a point-blank save from Kirsten kept the raiders at bay. England had beaten Germany in a competitive match at last, and the nation celebrated.
The joy was short lived, as England went down, 3-2 again, to a fluid and skilful Romanian side with Dan Petrescu and Adrian Mutu in their ranks, and England were on their way home. The only consolation was that the Germans were too.