Estadio Municipal El Molinón, Gijón, 16.06.1982
Rummenigge 67. / Madjer 54., Belloumi 68.
Germany lined up for their opening match against North African tournament debutants Algeria with victory more or less assured, with Nationaltrainer Jupp Derwall as laissez-faire as ever in suggesting that he would happily take the first train back to Germany or jump into the Mediterranean Sea should his side fail to win. As well as showing a completely unprofessional lack of respect to the opposition Derwall and his advisors had clearly not done their research: the tenacious Algerians – known as Les Fennecs or “the Desert Foxes” – were far from being a pushover, and had in fact beaten a German side – though admittedly a weak and inexperienced one – in their only previous meeting Algiers in 1964.
Derwall may well have been foolish in his overconfidence, but nobody would have really contradicted him. While seven of the Algerian squad plied their trade in either France or Belgium, they were an unknown quantity – in contrast to the reigning European Champions who boasted such names as Harald Schumacher, Paul Breitner and two-time European Footballer of the Year Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
Expecting his side to serve up a feast of goals, the Nationaltrainer would abandon his natural defensiveness in naming a 4-3-3 formation that saw a solid defensive quartet of Manny Kaltz, Uli Stielike, Karl-Heinz Förster and Hans-Peter Briegel sitting behind a creative-looking midfield containing Wolfgang Dremmler, the recalled veteran Paul Breitner and Felix Magath – while up front skipper Rummenigge would be teamed up with Euro 1980 final hero Horst Hrubesch and the sprightly Pierre Littbarski.
On what was a bright Wednesday late afternoon at Gijón’s El Molinón in front of a crowd of forty-two thousand, Peruvian referee Enrique Labo Revoredo got things underway with Germany in their traditional white-black-white and the Algerians wearing a green kit with white trim and red socks.
Paul Breitner shields the ball from Algeria’s Mustapha Dahleb during the first half with the score still goalless
While one could put the result down to the Germans underestimating their opponents and paying the price for their complacency, one could instead focus on the Algerians’ magic shirts, something that to this day has not been touched upon. During the goalless first half, Les Fennecs sported one design of their green shirt, but on emerging from the dressing room for the second half they would be seen wearing a shirt with a completely different design and emblem.
Many German commentators over the past thirty or so years have blamed this infamous defeat on Jupp Derwall’s tactics and his side’s underestimation of the Algerians, but in the midst of this have failed to notice the appearance of the magical shirt. What else could have inspired such a shock result?
Derwall would be made to regret his earlier comments, but the shockwaves in German football caused by the defeat against Algeria would be nothing compared to what was to follow.
Germany FR: Schumacher – Kaltz, Stielike, Kh. Förster, Briegel – Dremmler, Breitner, Magath (82. K. Fischer) – Kh. Rummenigge (c), Hrubesch, Littbarski
Algeria: Cerbah – Merzekane, Guendouz, Kourichi, Mansouri – Fergani, Dahleb, Belloumi, Zidane (63. Bensaoula) – Assad, Madjer (88. Larbes)
Referee: Enrique Labo Revoredo (Peru)
Assistants: Gilberto Aristizábal Murcia (Colombia), Paolo Casarin (Italy)
Yellow Cards: Hrubesch / Madjer
Red Cards: – / –