v Portugal, 2006 World Cup 3rd Place Play-off
v Portugal, Gottlieb-Daimler-Stadion, Stuttgart (Third Place Play-off) 08.07.2006
Schweinsteiger 56., 78., Petit og 61. / Nuno Gomes 88.
Following the heartbreaking semi-final defeat against Italy in Dortmund one would not have been surprised if the German team had found it hard to get themselves back into the right frame of mind for what was ultimately a meaningless third-place playoff against Portugal – but Jürgen Klinsmann’s side would pick themselves up and dust themselves down, with the aim of bringing their tournament to a satisfactory conclusion. While the world was gearing up for the big showpiece in Berlin, the Mannschaft would head south-west to Stuttgart.
The wave of expectation that had started to swell as the tournament had progressed had crashed against an all-too-familiar blue Italian wall, but the team knew that one last showing would be the perfect sign off, as well a thank you to supporters across all of Germany whose faith in the national team had been dramatically rekindled.
Like the home side, Portugal had also performed way beyond expectations. Having reached the last four in the World Cup for the first time since 1966, Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side would narrowly lose their semi-final to 1998 champions France, falling to a first-half penalty from Zinedine Zidane. All seemed set for an open game at the Gottlieb-Daimler Stadion, with both sides looking to finish their tournament with a flourish.
Nationaltrainer Jürgen Klinsmann would make a number of changes to the team that started against Italy, giving a number of fringe players an opportunity. Among these was one-time number one ‘keeper Oliver Kahn, who would wear the captain’s armband in what would be his final match for the Nationalmannschaft in place of Jens Lehmann.
Klinsmann would play the same 4-4-2 formation, but the defensive quartet would be more than unfamiliar. Left-back Philipp Lahm would switch out on to the right in place of Arne Friedrich, while Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Marcell Jansen would make his first start out on the left. In the centre of defence, Christoph Metzelder would be joined by veteran Jens Nowotny – who like Kahn would also be making his farewell appearance.
With skipper Michael Ballack also being rested, the recalled Torsten Frings would be back in the side alongside Sebastian Kehl and Bernd Schneider, while Bastian Schweinsteiger would make his way back into the starting lineup in place of Tim Borowski. Up front the German coach would stick with his tried and tested strike partnership of Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski.
Klinsmann’s side would be given a warm welcome in front of a crowd of just over fifty-thousand, and they would take to the field in their traditional white-black-white attire with their Portuguese opponents in their distinctive all blood-red strip with green and yellow trim. On what was a pleasant evening in Baden-Württemberg, Japanese official Toru Kamikawa would get things under way.
Germany’s emphatic victory would round off the host nation’s tournament in grand style, and complete the first chapter of what would soon become a new footballing renaissance. They had come so close to going all the way and reaching the final, but the third-place finish was way beyond most reasonable expectations at the start of the competition.
From the opening win over Costa Rica a month earlier through to this sparkling gala show in Stuttgart, Jürgen Klinsmann’s team had reignited everybody’s faith in the Nationalmannschaft. This young team had not only returned to the podium, but in a break from old stereotypes about German football had thrilled many and won large numbers of neutral admirers from their refreshing style of play.
Germany: Kahn (c) – Lahm, Nowotny, Metzelder, Jansen – Schneider, Kehl, Frings, Schweinsteiger (79. Hitzlsperger) – Klose (65. Neuville), Podolski (71. Hanke)
Portugal: Ricardo – Paulo Ferreira, Meira, Ricardo Costa, Nuno Valente (69. Nuno Gomes) – Maniche, Costinha (46. Petit) – Cristiano Ronaldo, Deco, Simão – Pauleta (77. Figo)
Referee: Toru Kamikawa (Japan)
Assistants: Yoshikazu Hiroshima (Japan), Kim Dae Young (South Korea)
Fourth Official: Coffi Codjia (Benin)
Fifth Official: Celestin Ntagungira (Rwanda)
Yellow Cards: Frings, Schweinsteiger / Ricardo Costa, Costinha, Paulo Ferreira
Red Cards: – / –