Sapporo Dome, Sapporo, 01.06.2002
Klose 20., 25., 70., Ballack 40., Jancker 45.+1., Linke 73., Bierhoff 84., Schneider 90.+1.
The German team that came into the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Japan and South Korea was a team in transition, one that had for the first time had to qualify for the finals via the playoffs. Little would be expected of Rudi Völler’s side, and there were some commentators who even went so far as to predict a shock result in the Nationalmannschaft’s opening group game against Saudi Arabia – a side that had sprung a number of surprises in previous tournaments.
The two sides had never met at full international level, and given the Saudis’ previous World Cup record – they had reached the second phase in 1994 – Völler would take anything for granted. The Nationaltrainer would name a strong side in an attacking 3-3-2-2 formation, with skipper Oliver Kahn in goal, a three-man defence consisting of Thomas Linke, Carsten Ramelow and young talent Christoph Metzelder, and a three-man defensive midfield unit featuring Torsten Frings, Dietmar Hamann and Christian Ziege. Further up the field Bernd Schneider and Michael Ballack would provide support to the two strikers, Carsten Jancker and the promising Miroslav Klose.
The match would be played indoors at Sapporo’s Sapporo Dome, and would be the first World Cup match played indoors by the German national team. In front of a crowd of just over thirty-two thousand people Paraguayan referee Ubaldo Aquino would get things underway, with Germany in a classical white-black-white ensemble and their Saudi opponents in green shirts, white shorts and green socks.
Miroslav “Salto” Klose celebrates in his own inimitable style after scoring the Mannschaft’s second goal
Bernd “Schnix” Schneider after scoring Germany’s eighth goal with a stunning free-kick in injury time.
In the face of much pre-match pessimism, Völler’s side had turned out a clinical and polished performance – even if the opposition would turn out to be not nearly as testing as first anticipated. The 8-0 scoreline would be Germany’s best result in the World Cup finals, indeed, their biggest score in any major tournament finals. It was also the fourth-highest score in the history of the FIFA World Cup, after Hungary’s 10-1 demolition of El Salvador in 1982 and the 9-0 victories achieved by the Hungarians and Yugoslavia against South Korea and Zaïre respectively in 1954 and 1974.
Miroslav Klose’s hat-trick of headers would be his third three-goal haul in only his thirteenth international, and would the sixth scored by a German player at the World Cup finals after Edmund Conen (1934 v Belgium), Max Morlock (1954 v Turkey), Gerd Müller (1970 v both Bulgaria and Peru) and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (1982 v Chile). With this sixth hat-trick, Germany would go clear of Hungary as the country with the most hat-trick scorers in all FIFA World Cup final tournaments.
With three points and eight goals in the bag the Mannschaft would move south to Ibaraki for their second match with the Republic of Ireland with renewed confidence.
Germany: Kahn (c) – Linke, Ramelow (46. Jeremies), Metzelder – Frings, D. Hamann, Ziege – Schneider, Ballack – Klose (77. Neuville), Jancker (67. Bierhoff)
Saudi Arabia: Mohammed Al-Deayea – Ahmed Dukhi Al-Dosari, Redha Tukar, Abdullah Zubromawi, Hussein Sulimani – Mohammed Noor, Khamis Al-Dosari (46. Ibrahim Al-Shahrani), Abdullah Al-Waked, Nawaf Al-Temyat (46. Abdulaziz Khathran) – Sami Al-Jaber, Al Hasan Al-Yami (77. Abdullah Jumaan Al-Dosari)
Referee: Ubaldo Aquino (Paraguay)
Assistants: Miguel Giacomuzzi (Paraguay), Michael Ragoonath (Trinidad & Tobago)
Fourth Official: Réné Ortube (Bolivia)
Yellow Cards: Ziege, Hamann / Noor Mohammad
Red Cards: – / –