Soldier Field, Chicago, 17.06.1994
Klinsmann 61. / –
As reigning World Champions, Germany would begin the defence of their crown against first-time qualifiers Bolivia in what would be an historic first-ever meeting between the two countries at full international level. The South Americans were something of an unknown quantity in that they didn’t possess any noteworthy international stars, but a strong qualifying campaign – particularly at home – had seen them finish just a point behind Brazil and ahead of the more illustrious two-time World Champions Uruguay. The venue would be the impressive Soldier Field in Chicago, home ground of the gridiron outfit Chicago Bears.
Prior to kick-off there would be the opening ceremony – a colourful occasion attended by a number of dignitaries including US President Bill Clinton, German Bundeskanzler Helmut Kohl and the President of Bolivia, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada. The occasion however would always be remembered for the moment when singer Diana Ross would come onto to the stage to take a penalty kick, only to produce an effort that Chris Waddle would have been proud of.
Berti Vogts’ side may not have known much about the Bolivians – apart from the fact that tribal women in the country could often be seen sporting bowler hats – but it was clear that they couldn’t risk underestimating their opponents. En route to the finals the team known as La Verde (“The Green One”) had beaten the high-fancied Brazilians 2-0 in the rarefied atmosphere of La Paz – the first-ever defeat for the Seleção in World Cup qualifying competition.
Opening World Cup matches had always been cagey affairs, but the Nationaltrainer would name a fairly positive starting eleven in what could best be described as a 1-2-4-1-2 formation. With skipper Lothar Matthäus playing the role of Libero behind Jürgen Kohler and Thomas Berthold, the team would be defined by its talented midfield quartet of Thomas Häßler, Stefan Effenberg, Matthias Sammer and Andreas Brehme – with Andreas Möller in an advanced midfield role sitting behind the two-man attack of Jürgen Klinsmann and Karl-Heinz Riedle.
On a bright and warm afternoon in the Windy City, the Mannschaft would walk onto the field in what was a whole new take on the traditional Schwarz und Weiß. Following the successful introduction of the national colours on the previous two Trikot designs, the team now wore a shirt with a black, red and gold pattern that was meant to represent an eagle in flight – though to me it looked like a Schwarz-Rot-Gold chess board. Teamed with black shorts and white socks, the colours contrasted against the bright green and white ensemble sported by their Bolivian opponents.
In front of an enthusiastic crowd of just over sixty-three thousand, Mexican referee Arturo Brizio Carter would get both the match and the tournament underway.
Jürgen Klinsmann celebrates his sixty-first minute winner in the Mannschaft’s opening game against Bolivia
It had been a hard-earned victory for Berti Vogts’ side against what had been an obdurate Bolivian outfit, and the Mannschaft became the first tournament holders to win their opening fixture since England’s 1-0 victory over Romania in 1970. They would also become the first team in the history of the tournament to claim three points for the win.
Unlike in Italy four years earlier there would be no first phase “base” for any of the twenty-four competing teams, but Germany would remain in Chicago to play their second group fixture against Spain – their first meeting in the World Cup finals since the Mannschaft’s 2-1 win in Madrid in 1982.
Germany: Illgner – Matthäus (c) – Kohler, Berthold – Häßler (83. Strunz), Effenberg, Sammer, Brehme – Möller – Riedle (60. Basler), Klinsmann
Bolivia: Trucco – Rimba, Quinteros, Sandy – Borja, Soria, Erwin Sánchez, Melgar, Baldivieso (66. Moreno), Cristaldo – Ramallo (79. Etcheverry)
Referee: Arturo Brizio Carter (Mexico)
Assistants: Eugene Brazzale (Australia), Gordon Dunster (Australia)
Fourth Official: Rodrigo Badilla Sequeira (Costa Rica)
Yellow Cards: Kohler, Möller / Soria, Baldivieso, Borja, Quinteros
Red Cards: – / Etcheverry 82.