West Germany easily qualified for the 1986 edition of the World Cup in Mexico by finishing top of their qualification group, but compared to previous campaigns it had not been wholly convincing. After leaving things until the last quarter of a hour to win their opening home fixture against Sweden, Franz Beckenbauer’s men huffed and puffed on an awful pitch in Malta, going through a rocky last few minutes after the home side had pulled the score back to 3-2.
These two sketchy performances were followed by a particularly purple patch in the spring of 1985, where a well-worked 2-1 win in Portugal was followed by a 6-0 thumping of the hapless Maltese in the return fixture and a stunning 5-1 away victory in what had been billed as a tough fixture against 1976 European Champions Czechoslovakia in Prague.
With five wins out of five and qualification for Mexico virtually assured the team then took its foot off the gas, winning one and drawing two of its last three games. After having let slip a 2-0 lead in Sweden where they conceded a last minute equaliser, the Nationalmannschaft then suffered its first ever World Cup qualification round defeat when it fell to a 1-0 defeat in Stuttgart’s Neckarstadion against Portugal. This was almost followed by another home defeat against the already eliminated Czechs, with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge sparing Germany’s blushes with a 86th minute strike to earn a 2-2 draw.
Franz Beckenbauer’s side eventually topped the group with twelve points and a goal difference of +13, two points ahead of the Portguese who by dint of their win in Stuttgart had leapfrogged the Swedes into the second qualifying spot. While the Germans had easily made it to Mexico and racked up twenty-goals at an average of just under three a game, the qualification campaign had revealed a number of signs that were hardly encouraging: in addition to their first home defeat, the result in Malta and the 2-2 draws against both Sweden and Czechoslovakia provided a clear indication that there was more than a degree of inconsistency.
It was also an ageing side, with a number of key players unlikely to take their career beyond the World Cup Finals – players such as Toni Schumacher, Hans-Peter Briegel, Klaus Allofs, Felix Magath and the influential Rummenigge. For these players the finals would be the opportunity for a last hurrah, but the German press and public were clearly less bullish than usual about the team’s chances of bringing home a third world title in Mexico.
Match Results and Details
v Sweden, Müngersdorferstadion, Köln, 17.10.1984
Rahn 75., Rummenigge 88. / –
Team: Schumacher – Jakobs, Herget, Kh. Förster, Briegel – Brehme, Matthäus, Falkenmayer (59. K. Allofs), Magath (75. U. Rahn) – Kh. Rummenigge (c), Völler
1-0 Picking up a short pass from Andreas Brehme on right just inside the Swedish half, substitute Klaus Allofs wriggles free of his challengers before threading a defence-splitting pass for debutant substitute Uwe Rahn. With what his first touch in international football, Rahn sends a skidding right-foot shot inside ‘keeper Thomas Ravelli that creeps into the net via the inside of the right post.
2-0 A fantastic ball from Allofs that crosses the entire width of the pitch finds Karl-Heinz Rummenigge out on the left, and the German skipper cuts inside at pace before sending a delicious right-footed strike that thunders into the back of the net, beating the flying Ravelli at his near post.
v Malta, National Stadium, Ta’Qali, 06.12.1984
Förster 43., Allofs 69., 85. / Busuttil 11., Xuereb 87.
Team: Schumacher – Jakobs (46. Thon), Herget, Kh. Förster – Matthäus, U. Rahn, Brehme, Briegel – Kh. Rummenigge (c), Völler, K. Allofs
0-1 Malta piece together an excellent move that sees the attack flow from the left into the centre of the field, and Calmel Busuttil provides an excellent finish by slotting the ball past Toni Schumacher from just inside the eighteen-yard box with his right foot.
1-1 An Andreas Brehme free-kick from out on the right is swung high into the Maltese penalty area, and Karl-Heinz Förster drills in a rather lucky header that flies into the net via the butter-coated fingertips of ‘keeper Raymond Mifsud.
2-1 Rudi Völler collects the ball on the left flank, and outwits his marker to run into the penalty area and put up a looping cross into the danger zone. Klaus Allofs manages to get on the end of it to beat Mifsud at his near post with a well-timed header.
3-1 Sweeper Matthias Herget puts Karl-Heinz Rummenigge through on the right, and his high cross from the byline is crashed against the crossbar by Uwe Rahn. With Maltese ‘keeper Mifsud now lying on his back in the goal, the ball falls to Allofs, who nods it it from close range.
3-2 A high Maltese ball into the German box from the left is only half cleared by Hans-Peter Briegel, and the it falls to Raymond Xuerenb whose volley from the edge of the eighteen-yard box skids past Schumacher and into the low left-hand corner of the German net.
v Portugal, Estádio da Luz, Lisboa, 24.02.1985
Littbarski 28., Völler 37. / Diamantino 57.
Team: Schumacher (c) – Berthold, Herget, Jakobs, Frontzeck – Matthäus, Falkenmayer, Magath, Briegel – Littbarski, Völler
1-0 Lothar Matthäus delivers a wonderfully-timed pass to send Rudi Völler into free space on the left flank, and the Bremen striker bursts forward into the Portuguese penalty area. He then plays a perfectly weighted ball behind the defence for Pierre Littbarski to slot into the roof of the net from six yards.
2-0 Picking up the ball just inside the Portuguese half, Hans-Peter Briegel embarks on a powerful run towards the penalty area where he plays a neat pass to his left and the fast-moving Völler. Having created the space for a shooting chance, Völler slips the ball under ‘keeper Bento with his left foot and sends it into the right corner of the net.
2-1 Portugal stream forward en masse towards the German goal, and when the defence fail to clear their lines following Pacheco’s effort the ball falls to Diamantino who drills a low left-footed shot past Toni Schumacher from just inside the eighteen-yard box.
v Malta, Ludwigsparkstadion, Saarbrücken, 27.03.1985
Rahn 10., 17., Magath 13., Littbarski 18., Kh. Rummenigge 44., 66. / –
Team: Schumacher – Berthold, Herget, Kh. Förster, Frontzeck – U. Rahn (66. Thon), Briegel (76. Brehme), Magath – Littbarski, Völler, Kh. Rummenigge (c)
1-0 Pierre Littbarski sends in an inswinging corner into the Maltese box from the left, Rudi Völler rises above the defence to glance the ball across the face of goal, and Uwe Rahn arrives at the far post to stab it into the roof of the net from less than two yards.
2-0 Rahn plays a ball through the Maltese defence into the penalty area, and Littbatski dummies to leave Völler clean through on goal, where he is clipped from behind. Littbarski hits the left post with his spot-kick, and after a messy goalmouth scramble from the rebound Felix Magath crashes it home with a firm left-foot shot past ‘keeper Johnny Bonello.
3-0 A sustained attack by the Germans on the Maltese goal sees full-back Michael Frontzeck find space out on the left to swing a low cross into the penalty area, where it is met by Rahn who finds the low left-hand corner of the net with a well-timed diving header.
4-0 Rahn picks up the ball out on the right deep in his own half, and plays a smooth pass into the opposition half which is collected by Thomas Berthold. Berthold slips a perfectly-weighted diagonal ball towards the D for Littbarski to chase, and the German number seven drills a firm low right-footed shot that skids across Bonello and into the left-hand corner of the net.
5-0 Matthias Herget finds the fast-moving Frontzeck who picks the ball up on the touchline before advancing down the left flank. He cuts inside towards the box before sending in a low cross that is met by Karl-Heinz Rummenigge sneaks in front of his marker at the near post.
6-0 An outswinging Littbarski corner from the right is sent into the Maltese penalty area, and is neatly nodded back towards the six-yard box and the ever-alert Rummenigge. With a swing of his left foot Rummenigge sends the ball crashing into the top left-hand corner of the net past the static Bonello.
v Czechoslovakia, Stadion Evžena Rošického Strahov, Praha, 30.04.1984
Berthold 8., Littbarski 22., Matthäus 37., Herget 43., K. Allofs 82. / Griga 86.
Team: Schumacher (c) – Berthold, D. Jakobs, Kh. Förster, Brehme – Matthäus (81. Thon), Herget, Magath, U. Rahn (70. K. Allofs) – Littbarski, Völler
1-0 Germany win a free-kick out on the right, and Pierre Littbarski’s well-hit shot curls invitingly into the Czech penalty area. Rudi Völler can’t get his head to the ball, but lurking behind him is Thomas Berthold, who sends a firm header into the back of the net via the fingertips of ‘keeper Vladimír Borovička.
2-0 Felix Magath wins the ball in midfield, finding Littbarski who brings the ball down neatly before turning inside towards goal. Cutting in towards the D, Littbarksi unleashes a ferocious left-footed shot that bends away to the left of the leaping Borovička and into the back of the net.
3-0 A poor Czech clearance is intercepted by Berthold on the right, and after skipping past an opponent chips a looped cross into the penalty area. The ball reaches the unmarked Lothar Matthäus who is out to the left some eight yards out, who drives it into the right-hand corner of the Czech net with a crisp right-footed volley.
4-0 Germany win a direct free-kick just outside the Czech penalty area, and sweeper Matthias Herget takes a couple of steps before curling the ball over the wall into the top left-hand corner of the goal with his right foot. It’s the perfect training ground exercise: Borovička scrambles to his right, but has no chance.
5-0 Ladislav Vízek’s pass comes off the foot of referee Joël Quiniou, and Rudi Völler seizes possession in midfield. Advancing towards goal with the Czech defenders standing back, Völler unleashes a left-footed shot from just outside the area which is blocked by Borovička. Quick to follow up is substitute Klaus Allofs, who crashes the ball into the left inside netting with his left foot.
5-1 Stanislav Griga makes his way towards the German penalty area, before squaring the ball out to his right and Jozef Kukučka. Kukučka fires a shot back towards the German goal, and Griga escapes the attention of his marker Karl-Heinz Förster to stab the ball past Toni Schumacher.
v Sweden, Råsunda Stadion, Stockholm, 25.09.1985
Völler 23., Herget 40. / Corneliusson 63., Magnusson 90.
Team: Schumacher – Augenthaler – Berthold, Kh. Förster, Jakobs – Littbarski, Herget, Briegel, Brehme – Kh. Rummenigge (c), Völler
1-0 A Pierre Littbarski corner out on the right is swung deep into the Swedish box, and Rudi Völler steals in front of his marker to beat Swedish ‘keeper Thomas Ravelli at his near post with a firm and well-timed header from right corner of the six-yard box.
2-0 Matthias Herget picks up the ball inside his own half and lofts it forward out on the left. Littbarski takes advantage of some sloppy play by Swedish right-back Glenn Hysén, and after some neat trickery that sees him escape two opponents, plays the ball inside to the edge of the box. Littbarski’s pass is perfect, and Herget arrives to smash the ball past Ravelli with his right foot.
2-1 After a patient build-up Sweden break down the right, and Torbjörn Nilsson beats Ditmar Jakobs to float in a well-placed cross into the German penalty area. Dan Corneliusson outpaces Karl-Heinz Förster to get to the ball first, and drives in a left-footed shot that leaves ‘keeper Toni Schumacher with no chance.
2-2 With the clock ticking down Sweden charge forward towards the German goal, and Torbjörn Nilsson plays an excellent high ball out to the right of the penalty area. Substitute Mats Magnusson is quickly onto it, outsprinting the German defence before chipping the ball over Schumacher into the left-hand side of the net.
v Portugal, Neckarstadion, Stuttgart, 16.10.1985
– / Carlos Manuel 54.
Team: Schumacher – Jakobs (46. Gründel) – Berthold, Kh. Förster, Brehme – Allgöwer, Herget, N. Meier, Briegel – Littbarski (63. T. Allofs), Kh. Rummenigge (c)
0-1 Midfielder Carlos Manuel assumes possession on the left side if midfield, and cuts back inside towards the German penalty area. With the defence standing back, Manuel gets to within twenty-five yards of the goal before launching a terrific right-footed shot that curls into the top right-hand corner of the net past the helpless Toni Schumacher.
v Czechoslovakia, Olympiastadion, München, 17.11.1985
Brehme 1., Rummenigge 86. / Novák 52., Lauda 61.
Team: Schumacher – Augenthaler – Brehme, Kh. Förster, Briegel (46. Frontzeck) – Rolff, Thon, Allgöwer – Littbarski (79. U. Rahn) – Kh. Rummenigge (c), Kögl
1-0 In the opening seconds Germany win a free kick some twenty-five yards out to the right of the Czech penalty area. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge touches it for Andreas Brehme, who drills in a stunning left-footed drive that flies into the top left-hand corner of the net past ‘keeper Luděk Mikloško.
1-1 Ladislav Vízek wins the ball from Klaus Augenthaler outside the German penalty area with what appears to be a foul, but the referee waves play on. Vízek weaves his way into the box before leaving the ball for Josef Novák who beats Toni Schumacher at his near post.
1-2 A hopeful long forward punt by the Czechs is badly misread by Brehme, who only succeeds in touching the ball on for Vladislav Lauda, who neatly dinks it over the advancing Schumacher with his right foot.
2-2 Brehme swings in a left-footed corner from the left, and when the Czechs fail to clear the ball falls to Ludwig Kögl, whose well-placed effort is cleared off the line by Jiří Ondra with Mikloško beaten. The rebound falls to Rummenigge, who sweeps a right-footed shot into the back of the net from five yards.
Final Group Table
|Germany FR (Q)||8||5||2||1||22||9||+13||12|
Other results: Sweden 4-0 Malta; Sweden 0-1 Portugal; Portugal 2-1 Czechoslovakia; Czechoslovakia 4-0 Malta; Portugal 1-3 Sweden; Malta 1-3 Portugal; Malta 0-0 Czechoslovakia; Sweden 2-0 Czechoslovakia; Czechoslovakia 1-0 Portugal; Portugal 3-2 Malta; Czechoslovakia 2-1 Sweden; Malta 1-2 Sweden.
Goals Summary: Kh. Rummenigge (4), K. Allofs, Littbarski, U. Rahn (3), Herget, Völler (2), Berthold, Brehme, Kh. Förster, Magath, Matthäus (1). Total 22.