Eight competitive matches. Four draws. Four defeats. You can work out the rest, but I’ll say it anyway: zero wins. A record that defies all description, and more so after the defeat in the Euro 2012 semi-final, all logic. Even with a world-record winning spell behind them and a team in excellent form, Germany still couldn’t beat Italy when it really mattered.
One dares not ask why. Like many things in football, it’s just the way things are.
This extended special feature article provides a potted history of Germany’s first seven competitive meetings against the Azzurri, a painful run of results that many of us all thought would finally end in Warsaw back in June. For many, they will be pieces of footballing history. For others, they will bring back memories of the worst sort. Nightmares, even.
My first Germany versus Italy match was the World Cup Final in Madrid, which I watched while we were stationed in Cyprus. After the semi-final comeback against France, I was pretty confident – this in spite of Italy’s spectacular gathering of momentum that had seen them sweep everything in their path after a dire first phase. I had turned just turned eleven, and felt that it was my right that the Mannschaft should deliver a third world title as a birthday present.
I remember watching the coverage on local television, with the sound turned down and the radio tuned into what I think was the BBC World Service. Given that television at the time started only in the evening and there was nothing much of interest to watch – it was all Greek to me, after all – the only time it would ever really be used was when the football was on. Watched in black and white with the commentary arriving around three seconds late: a far cry from the digital coverage of today, but it worked.
When Marco Tardelli struck Italy’s second goal and wheeled away on that now (in)famous celebratory blubbing run, I knew the game was up; the Germans had nothing left to give.
It served as my introduction to what has now been over fifty years of pain.
Santiago, 1962: The First Encounter
Mexico City, 1970: The Match of the Century
Buenos Aires, 1978: Don’t cry for me, Argentina
Madrid, 1982: The Rossi Revival
Düsseldorf, 1988: Hackett saves the hosts
Old Trafford, 1996: Köpke’s Lucky Escape
Dortmund, 2006: The Blue Blur
The article is broken up into seven further pages, linked above. You can find the Euro 2012 match report here.