“Football is a simple game – twenty-two men chase a ball for ninety minutes and, at the end, the Germans win.”– Gary Lineker
While it would be exaggerating things just a little to describe the two countries as genuine footballing rivals, any meeting between Germany and England will always be seen as a classic duel. From England’s World Cup final victory at Wembley in 1966 and the classic comeback by the Mannschaft four years later in Mexico to the nail-biting penalty shootouts of the 1990s, the fixture has produced a number of unforgettable moments. It is one of those encounters that has over time produced a heady mix of passion, commitment and more than a little injection of controversy – usually involving linesmen.
While in England the footballing relationship between the sides has often been described as a “rivalry” – possibly on account of the fact that the Germans have proved to be the stumbling block for many England teams over the years – in Germany opinions are a little more muted, with the “rivals” label being pinned – and even then with little or no real enthusiasm – to the likes of Italy and the Netherlands. For teams to be genuine rivals there needs to be some sort of parity in terms of overall success on the international stage, and to compare a team that has contested thirteen major tournament finals – winning six of them – and another that has won its only tournament at home in slightly dubious circumstances is probably stretching the term a little too far.
If there is any sort of rivalry between the two teams, it would probably have more to do with the relationship between the two countries away from the football pitch rather than their respective perfomances on it; nevertheless, as a British-born supporter of the German national team I simply had to write about the games played over the years between the two sides, which have included some epic encounters that will always be remembered by those who were caught up in the collective euphoria at the time. For me, this often meant having to batten down the hatches whilst hoping that my German-made car wouldn’t end up with a brick through the windscreen.
Many articles have been written on the subject – as well as an excellent book by David Downing – but nothing has so far been written by a Britischer who can describe himself as a diehard follower of the Nationalmannschaft. To make the piece slightly more interesting, the section also contains a few images from my collection of postwar Germany v England programmes – which goes back to the friendly played at Wembley in 1954 which pitted the England side against the newly-crowned World Champions.
Germany’s overall record against England currently stands at thirty-three matches played with fourteen victories, four draws and fifteen defeats – with all of their victories having taken place during the post war era. Up until their first victory in Hannover in 1968, the Mannschaft had played a dozen matches against England – losing ten and drawing two – but since then the two teams have met on twenty occasions, with Germany winning thirteen – including the two penalty shootout wins in 1990 and 1996 – England five and two draws.
The statistical analysis does however differ slightly dependent on how the fixtures are viewed. For instance while the DFB’s official statistical record includes every game played from the first encounter in Berlin in 1908, the English FA’s list starts in 1930 on account of the first four games not being counted as full internationals due to the England XI being an amateur side. The removal of the first four games from the records makes the statistics even more favourable for the German team:
Including the four amateur fixtures:
played 33, won 14, drawn 4, lost 15. Goals for 42, goals against 67.
Excluding the four amateur fixtures:
played 29, won 14, drawn 3, lost 12. Goals for 39, goals against 48.
For completeness and to keep in line with the official DFB records, I have included the match results and statistics from the first four fixtures – all of which took place before the First World War.
Germany v England Match Results, Reports and Details
The Amateur Era: 1908-1913 »
The Early Days: the 1930s »
England in the Ascendancy: the 1950s »
The Turning Tide: the 1960s »
Germany’s Supermannschaft: the 1970s »
Cynicism and Consolidation: the 1980s »
Deutschland Dominant: the 1990s »
Collapse and Recovery: the 2000s »
The Future is Bright: the 2010s »
More detailed statistical analysis, including a number of graphs and charts comparing overall and comparative tournament records for both Germany and England can be found here.