Olympiastadion, Berlin, 26.03.2016
Kroos 43., Gómez 57. / Kane 61., Vardy 74., Dier 90+1.
Germany: Neuer – Can, Rüdiger, Hummels (45. Tah), Hector – Khedira (c), Kroos – Müller (75. Podolski), Özil, Reus (64. Schürrle) – Gómez (79. Götze)
England: Butland (43. Forster) – Clyne, Smalling, Cahill (c), Rose – Dier, Henderson – Lallana (71. Barkley), Alli, Welbeck (71. Vardy) – Kane
Colours: Germany – grey/khaki shirts, ivory shorts, ivory socks; England – red shirts, red shorts, blue socks
Referee: Gianluca Rocchi (Italy)
Assistants: Lorenzo Manganelli (Italy), Filippo Meli (Italy)
Fourth Official: Paolo Valeri (Italy)
Yellow Cards: Can / Dier
Red Cards: – / –
Match Programme Details
The A4-sized edition of Aktuell – the official DFB match programme – for the 2016 fixture against England in Berlin contains ninety-eight pages, retaining the cover price of one Euro. On the cover are midfielders Mesut Özil and Marco Reus, sporting the new home and away Nationaltrikots.
There is an introduction by outgoing DFB President Wolfgang Niersbach, with features on the history of the Germany v England fixture and the upcoming 2016 European Championship in France. The programme also contains an A2-sized fold-out poster of centre-back Mats Hummels.
Dimensions: 297 x 210 mm (Standard A4)
Numbered Pages: 98
England were in Germany for the first time in almost a decade, eight years after their 2-1 victory at the Olympiastadion in Berlin in 2008. The German capital had become something of a home from home for the Three Lions, who were looking to extend an five-match unbeaten record stretching back to the first ever professional meeting between the two countries in 1930.
That first encounter had seen England equalise seven minutes from time to spare their blushes with a 3-3 draw, and it would be the last time that any German team would ever be in front in the German capital. The controversial meeting in 1938 where most of the headlines were made off the pitch saw England power to a dominant 6-3 win, and in 1956 the reigning World Champions were felled as the Three Lions ran out 3-1 winners.
Even the greatest German team of all time were unable to crack the Berlin nut. The team of Franz Beckenbauer, Günter Netzer and Gerd Müller had steamrollered a grubby England side 3-1 at Wembley in the first leg of the Euro 1972 quarter-final tie, but this same dominant eleven were held to a dire 0-0 draw at the Olympiastadion.
While it was the first match of 2017 for the Mannschaft after a long winter break, their form in previous matches towards the end of 2016 had not been fantastic. However, there had been other things to be concerned about. The last friendly of 2016 against the Netherlands had been abandoned before kickoff following a terrorist threat in Hannover, just days after the friendly against France that had been overshadowed by the horrific attacks in the French capital.
Germany had lost the match 2-0, but football had been the last thing on anybody’s minds.
The March friendly in Berlin was an opportunity for both Germany and England to continue with the fine-tuning process ahead of the European Championship finals in the summer, and both Nationaltrainer Jogi Löw and England manager Roy Hodgson would name teams containing a balanced mix of youth and experience. For England, it was an opportunity to continue their run of success in Berlin, while for Germany it was another chance to end their capital city hoodoo.
The was a new look to the German back line, where the absence of mainstay Jérôme Boateng saw AS Roma’s Antonio Rüdiger start in the centre of the back four alongside Mats Hummels, with the versatile Emre Can slotted into the right-back position and 1. FC Köln’s Jonas Hector out on the left. While the defensive unit may have looked a little short of experience, the could not be said for those further up the pitch, which even without injured captain Bastian Schweinsteiger was a first-choice lineup. With an average age of just over 26, the German team were a little older than their English opponents.
With England in mainly red red outfits, Germany took to the field in their new-look Auswärtstrikot: grey/khaki shirts teamed with off-white – or to be more precise, ivory – shorts and socks. In Schweinsteiger’s absence, the team was led out by Sami Khedira.
The visitors would make the brighter start, looking to close down the German players wherever possible and chasing every 50/50 ball. Not used to being hassled and harried to such an extent, the home side struggled to establish themselves early on. Germany’s passing game was far from its usual standard, and players were being forced into making mistakes and giving the ball away far too easily.
It took almost a quarter of an hour for Germany to finally get some decent possession and string some decent passes together, and from that point on it was largely a game of cat and mouse. England were doing all the pressing with their fast attackers continually looking to force errors and zip through the channels, with Germany more patient and prepared to concentrate on the counterattack. For all of their pace and energy however, England were unable to really test Manuel Neuer in the German goal.
On twenty-seven minutes, Mario Gómez would have the ball in the England net. Toni Kroos’s surgically sliced pass was perfect and Gómez’s finish equally clinical, but the celebrations were quickly quelled when the players spotted the linesman’s flag. Replays would show that Nathaniel Clyne was marginally in front of Gómez, but the German players would just have to suck it up and get on with the job.
Both Harry Kane and Adam Lallana blasted chances over the target for England, and as half time approached it was the visitors who were again making all of the running. When the deadlock was broken two minutes before the break, it was completely against the run of play – the result of an unfortunate comedy of errors for the Three Lions. England ‘keeper Jack Butland had clearly pulled a muscle in his own box, and rather than put the ball out of play he opted to punt it up the field.
Seizing the ball and sensing an opportunity, Toni Kroos ambled to the edge of the penalty and drilled a low left-footed shot to beat the unfortunate Butland at his near post. On any other day, the ‘keeper would have covered the ground and collected the ball. But for Butland, this was not any other day. Struggling to make his way back to his goal, his desperate dive was in vain.
Germany could conceivably have been two goals in front, but in truth they were more than a little lucky to be ahead at all. There was no doubt that England had been the better team as the two teams headed for the dressing room at half time. It was the first time any German team had been in front against England in Berlin since the first meeting in 1930, when “König” Richard Hofmann had put Dr. Otto Nerz’s side 3-2 in front – completing his hat-trick in the process.
The Mannschaft would make a better start to the second half that they had the first, but there were already signs that England had sharpened up their act going forward. Manuel Neuer was forced into making his first genuine save of the evening to deny Danny Welbeck, and Lallana should have done better than smash his shot straight at Jonas Hector with the goal at his mercy.
With England continuing to knock on the door, the play would inevitably swing back the other way for Germany to score their second, again against the general run of play. It was the perfect killer blow. A run into the England half from skipper Sami Khedira, followed by a teasing looping pass that was finished in style from just outside the six-yard box by the towering Mario Gómez.
When Gómez calmly steered his header past the helplessly static substitute ‘keeper Fraser Forster, the England team and their loud supporters in the stands must have felt really hard done by. For German fans, it finally looked as though the long winless run in Berlin was coming to an end.
The 2-0 scoreline hardly reflected the state of play, and it looked as though all of the wind had been taken out of the visitors’s sails. Mesut Özil should have put the the Mannschaft out of sight just two minutes later after Hector had forged a path behind the England defence, but the Arsenal playmaker could only scuff his shot straight at Forster. It was, as it turned out, a crucial miss.
England were down but far from out, and quickly picked themselves up again. Less than two minutes after Özil’s fluffed effort, Harry Kane showed how it should be done with a lovely turn and shot that just too good, even for a ‘keeper like Neuer. The almost immediate response was just what the visitors needed. Ramping up their attacks and adopting a nothing to lose approach, the men in red were relentless as they looked to turn the screw.
When the equaliser came, not even the biggest German fan could argue that it was not deserved. The break from Clyne turned the wobbling German defence inside out, and substitute Jamie Vardy delivered the sort of finish that his team had sorely missed in the first half. Rüdiger looked to have his man covered, but Vardy’s first-time backheeled flicked finish was truly world class. In a word, lethal. Neuer could only watch as the ball flashed into the back of the German net.
From that point on, Germany were all over the place, clinging on for dear life. Not content to go back home with a draw, the red shirts continued to flood forward. Another misplaced German pass should have been punished by Alli, but having collected Vardy’s defence splitting pass, the Spurs winger could only blaze his shot high over the crossbar. The clock ticked into additional time, and Rüdiger was forced to hack the ball behind. Cue an England corner, right at the death.
There was an sense of inevitability about what was coming next. A perfectly delivered corner from Jordan Henderson, and towering header from central defender Eric Dier. It was similar to the last meeting in Berlin, where John Terry’s header from a free-kick six minutes from time had settled the issue.
Germany should have won the match after putting themselves two goals in front, but in the end England were deserved winners. The energetic and positive play from the visitors had engineered an astonishing fightback, one that past German teams would have been proud of. Löw’s mean had crafted two good goals, but the fragility of the defence and their caving in at the end would have been the most concerning factor for the coach.
While the Mannschaft’s dismal record in Berlin against England was extended to half a dozen matches, it was Joachim Löw’s side that would take better stock of the defeat. While England flopped at the Euros later in the summer with a shock second round exit at the hands of underdogs Iceland, Germany would progress to the last four.
Home: played 14, won 3, drawn 3, lost 8. Goals for 20, goals against 35.
Away: played 13, won 7, drawn 0, lost 6. Goals for 14, goals against 26.
Neutral: played 7, won 4, drawn 1, lost 2. Goals for 10, goals against 9.
Overall: played 34, won 14, drawn 4, lost 16. Goals for 44, goals against 70.
Competitive: played 12, won 7, drawn 2, lost 3. Goals for 18, goals against 17.