The draw for the qualifying round of the 1996 European Championships saw Germany placed in a six-team group with a mix of new acquaintances and old friends. New were the former Soviet territories of Georgia and Moldova, while among the old friends were perennial opponents Albania, the now overly familiar Wales and the team that had torn up the form book to dump Berti Vogts’ side out of the recent World Cup – Bulgaria.
With two teams qualifying directly Germany’s place at the finals in England were never really in doubt, but there were a few hiccups on the way to what was in the end a fairly convincing overall performance that saw them head the group table by three points ahead of Bulgaria.
After two scrappy 2-1 wins against the Albanians and a solid if unspectacular 3-0 result in Moldova, a Jürgen Klinsmann first-half double gave the Mannschaft a 2-0 win over a brave Georgian side. Having hardly broken into a sweat Germany had collected a maximum twelve points from their four games, and went into their next game against Wales in Düsseldorf aiming to make it five out of five. The Welsh however were their usual obdurate selves, and had the temerity to take an eighth minute lead through Dean Saunders before Heiko Herrlich rescued the home side three minutes from half-time with his first – and last – international goal.
The two dropped points against Wales were followed by three more in Bulgaria; having moved into a two-goal lead and seemingly banished the memories of New York and Yordan Letchkov, the home side were awarded two dubious penalties – both of which were converted by Hristo Stoichkov – before Emil Kostadinov scored what turned out to be the winner with just over twenty minutes on the clock.
Luckily for Berti Vogts the defeat in Sofia came at the end of the 1994-95 season, and when things resumed in September it was a completely different story. Having gone behind in Nürnberg against Georgia the Mannschaft responded with four unanswered goals, before minnows Moldova were dispatched 6-1 in Leverkusen.
The final two matches would be against Wales and Bulgaria, and there would be no repeat of the previous season’s failures. A Jürgen Klinsmann winner nine minutes from time would ensure that there would be no repeat of Wales’ historic win in 1991, and in the final game in Berlin Berti Vogts’ side finally did for Bulgaria and made sure of first place in the group table by coming from behind to secure an emphatic 3-1 win. Cheered off the field to loud applause, they were back on track – and on their way to the finals in England.
Match Results and Details
v Albania, Qemal Stafa, Tiranë, 16.11.1994
Klinsmann 18., Kirsten 46. / Zmijani 32.
Team: Köpke – Matthäus (c) – Kohler, Berthold – Reuter, Eilts, Sammer (46. Strunz), R. Weber (83. D. Schuster) – Möller – Kirsten, Klinsmann
1-0 Stefan Reuter engineers a brilliant cross from a difficult position near the corner flag, and his lofted ball is met by Jürgen Klinsmann who beats his market in the air to direct a perfectly directed header past Albanian ‘keeper Fotaq Strakosha.
1-1 Albania win a free-kick just outside the German penalty area as fullback Artur Lekbello stumbles over a challenge from Jürgen Kohler, and Hysen Zmijani’s kick is beautifully curled around the defensive wall to beat Andreas Köpke at his near post.
2-1 Germany are on the offensive right from the second half kick-off, as subsititute Thomas Strunz plays a one-two with Andreas Möller who then tries to find Jürgen Klinsmann. The ball instead falls to Ulf Kirsten who steers his shot past Strakosha’s outstretched left hand.
v Moldova, Republican, Chişinău, 14.12.1994
Kirsten 7., Klinsmann 38., Matthäus 72. / –
Team: Köpke – Matthäus (c) – Berthold, Helmer – Reuter, Häßler, Sammer, R. Weber – Möller (79. Kuntz) – Kirsten (69. Strunz), Klinsmann
1-0 A Ralf Weber free-kick from out on the left is overhit, but Jürgen Klinsmann chases the ball down to put in a cross from the right flank where it is nodded in at the far post by an unmarked Ulf Kirsten.
2-0 Thomas Häßler chips the ball into the Moldovan penalty area for Kirsten, but he is quickly closed down by two defenders and cannot turn towards goal. Kirsten holds the ball up for Klinsmann, whose low right-footed drive skids past Moldovan ‘keeper Alexei Coselev and nestles in the right corner of the net.
3-0 After some good approach play down the right flank, an Andreas Möller cross is nodded down in the box by Klinsmann for skipper Lothar Matthäus, who controls the ball with his chest before hitting the target with his right foot.
v Albania, Fritz-Walter-Stadion, Kaiserslautern, 18.12.1994
Matthäus pen 8., Klinsmann 17. / Rraklli 58.
Team: Köpke – Matthäus (c) – Berthold, Helmer – Reuter, Häßler (78. Strunz), Sammer, R. Weber – Möller – Kirsten (59. Kuntz) – Klinsmann
1-0 Andreas Möller sets up an attack through the middle of the field, and after a one-two with Jürgen Klinsmann plays the perfect pass for Ulf Kirsten. Kirsten touches the ball past ‘keeper Fotaq Strakosha, but is then brought to the ground and Danish referee points to the spot. Strakosha dives the right way but is unable to reach Mätthaus’ kick, which finds the lower left-hand corner.
2-0 A patient yet incisive move sees Germany move the ball from one end of the pitch to the other in seven passes, and Thomas Helmer’s cross from just inside the left touchline is superbly met by a leaping Klinsmann who rises above his marker to nod the ball past Strakosha.
2-1 Strakosha punts the ball upfield, but with the play going nowhere Ulf Kirsten inexplicably decides to play a lofted pass back towards his own penalty area. Kirsten immediately turns away clutching his leg, but the high ball lands perfectly for Albanian striker Altin Rraklli, who lets it bounce once before thumping it past Andreas Köpke and into the top left-hand corner of the German net from all of twenty yards.
v Georgia, Boris Paichadze Stadium, Tbilisi, 29.03.1995
Klinsmann 24., 45.+2. / –
Team: Köpke – Helmer – Kohler, Babbel – Reuter, Eilts, R. Weber (46. Freund) – Basler, Möller – Klinsmann (c), Herrlich
1-0 Mario Basler’s well-struck corner from out on the right swings in over the Gerorgian penalty area, and the unchallenged Jürgen Klinsmann leaps above the static Georgian defence to steer the ball with his head to the left of ‘keeper Akaki Devadze.
2-0 Stefan Reuter drives forward with purpose from deep inside his own half, and charges down the centre before finding Heiko Herrlich out on the left. Herrlich switches inside to beat the first defender and in doing so loses his footing, but the loose ball falls for Klinsmann who swivels and sends his righted-foot shot through the legs of a defender and into the back of the net.
v Wales, Rheinstadion, Düsseldorf, 26.04.1995
Herrlich 42. / Saunders 8.
Team: Köpke – Reuter – Freund, Babbel – Eilts, Ziege (86. Kuntz), R. Weber – Basler (76. Scholl), Häßler – Herrlich, Klinsmann (c)
0-1 Germany fail to clear their lines from their own half, and a speculative lofted ball beats the offside trap to send Dean Saunders clean through on goal. The Aston Villa striker finishes things off with little fuss, sending a low shot across Andreas Köpke and into the right-hand side of the German net.
1-1 Ralf Weber picks up the ball on the left inside his own half, and sends a long and somewhat hopeful ball to the right of the Welsh penalty area. It finds Heiko Herrlich, who somehow slips in between two defenders before driving the ball past Welsh ‘keeper Neville Southall on the volley. It is Herrlich’s first – and last – international goal.
v Bulgaria, Vasil Levski Stadium, Sofia, 07.06.1995
Klinsmann 18., Strunz 44. / Stoichkov pen 45., pen 66., Kostadinov 69.
Team: Köpke – Sammer – Reuter, Babbel, Helmer – Basler (81. Möller), Strunz (90. Kirsten), Eilts, Häßler – Herrlich, Klinsmann (c)
1-0 A clearance by Bulgarian ‘keeper Borislav Mihailov is intercepted by Mario Basler, who accelerates down the right flank. After a neat exchange with Thomas Häßler Basler has plenty of time to deliver a perfect ball across the face of the Bulgarian goal, with Jürgen Klinsmann waiting at the far post to tap it in.
2-0 Germany have a throw-in on the right, and Mario Basler flings the ball into the Bulgarian box. The defence cannot clear and the ball falls to Klinsmann, who with his back to goal touches it back towards the edge of the penalty area. There to meet it is Thomas Strunz, who curls a delicious left-foot shot into the top-left corner of the net.
2-1 After some great play by the home side down the right, Krassimir Balakov makes his way into the German box where he is clattered by Strunz. Hristo Stoichkov’s penalty is calmly placed to Andreas Köpke’s left, as he sends the German ‘keeper the wrong way.
2-2 A lovely long ball from Balakov finds Emil Kostadinov in space, and he is quick to go to ground as Thomas Helmer challenges. Helmer looks to have got the ball, but the referee points to the spot. Stoichkov steps up, and in what is a carbon copy of the first spot-kick Köpke dives the wrong way as Stoichkov strokes it low into the right-hand corner.
2-3 Bulgaria initiate a move down the left flank, and the cross is cleared by Strunz only as far as Lyuboslav Penev. Penev chests it down for Kostadinov, whose after seeing his first snapshot blocked by Strunz is able to collect the rebound, skip past Matthias Sammer and plant the ball low to Köpke’s outstretched left hand for a dramatic winner.
v Georgia, Frankenstadion, Nürnberg, 06.09.1995
Möller 39., Ziege 57., Kirsten 62., Babbel 72. / Ketsbaia 28.
Team: Kahn – Helmer – Kohler – Babbel, Strunz, Freund, Ziege – Häßler, Möller – Klinsmann (c), Kirsten
0-1 The Georgians break at speed after Jürgen Kohler is dispossed, as Shota Arveladze charges towards the German goal. He finds Georgi Nemsadze, who checks and plays the ball back to Temuri Ketsbaia who drills a low right-footed shot past Oliver Kahn from the edge of the area.
1-1 After a Georgian attack breaks down Thomas Helmer charges up the centre of the field, finding Andreas Möller to his left. Möller continues the momentum towards goal, running through two defenders before beating Georgian ‘keeper Akaki Devadze at his near post.
2-1 Jürgen Klinsmann wins a free-kick on the left edge of the Georgian penalty area, which is swung in by Thomas Häßler. The ball is weakly punched away by Devadze before landing at the feet of Christian Ziege, who slams it into the net from close range.
3-1 A strong throw by Oliver Kahn is brilliantly collected by Ziege, who brings the ball under control and finds Klinsmann to his right. Klinssmann’s shot is well parried by Devadze, but Ulf Kirsten follows up to stroke the ball with power into the roof of the net.
4-1 An outswinging Thomas Häßler corner from the right is met superbly by Markus Babbel, who scores his first international goal with an unstoppable header that leaves Devadze flapping at thin air.
v Moldova, Ulrich-Haberland-Stadion, Leverkusen, 08.10.1995
Stroenco og 16., Helmer 18., Sammer 24., 72., Möller 47., 61. / Rebeja 82.
Team: Köpke – Sammer (83. Wörns) – Babbel – Freund, Eilts, Helmer, Ziege – Häßler, Möller (78. Scholl) – Klinsmann (c), Herrlich (74. Bobić)
1-0 With a neat succession of passes Germany break quickly down the left, and Andreas Möller outpaces the defence to get a shot on goal. His shot is well saved by ‘keeper Eugen Ivanov, but in the resulting mêlée skipper Sergei Stroenko botches his clearance and puts the ball into his own net.
2-0 Möller breaks again, and this time finds Thomas Helmer out on the left. With no obvious option in front of him, Helmer cuts back in side and skips past his marker before driving a low left-footed shot into the right-hand side of the Moldovan net.
3-0 Moldova are penalised for a backpass in their own penalty area, and the ball is placed on the six-yard line. Despite the goalmouth being marshalled by a phalanx of blue-shirted defenders, Möller rolls the ball back to Matthias Sammer who slams it home from just in front of the penalty spot.
4-0 Möller is quick to pounce on a slack Moldovan pass, and runs to his left into space where he plants a wonderful left-footed effort that beats the diving Ivanov before going in off the inside of the upright.
5-0 Christian Ziege delivers a long throw into the Moldovan penalty area, and the clearance only goes as far as Möller, who takes the ball on his chest before hitting a curling shot with his right foot on the half-volley. Ivanov manages to gets a hand on it, but can’t stop Möller claiming his second goal of the evening.
6-0 After a patient build-up in midfield it’s that man Möller again, as he plays the ball into Jürgen Klinsmann in the Moldovan area. Rather than going for goal Klinsmann outwits the defence by playing a cute backheel for Sammer, who nonchalantly strokes the ball past Ivanov with his left foot.
6-1 Vladislav Gavriliuc beats the offside trap to swing in a high cross from the left, where it finds Radu Rabeja advancing on the German six-yard box. Rabeja scuffs his shot into the turf, and the awkward bounce takes it over the helpless Andreas Köpke.
v Wales, Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff, 11.10.1995
Melville og 75., Klinsmann 81. / Helmer og 79.
Team: Köpke – Sammer – Babbel (46. Wörns), Helmer – Freund, Eilts, Ziege – Häßler, Möller – Klinsmann (c), Herrlich (74. Kuntz)
1-0 Christian Ziege makes a break down the left, and swings a left-footed cross into the Welsh box. The ball is too far in front of ‘keeper Neville Southall who desperately attempts to clear, and also manages to evade the outstretched leg of Stefan Kuntz before being turned into his own net by Andy Melville.
1-1 It’s two own goals in the space of four minutes, as Mark Pembridge’s outswinging corner from the right is turned in by Thomas Helmer. Helmer’s attempted clearance ends up looking like an Uwe Seeler off the back of the head special, with ‘keeper Andreas Köpke rooted to the spot.
2-1 After a rather freakish moment that sees the right corner flag spring out of the ground while keeping the ball in play, Dieter Eilts swings right-footed cross into the Welsh box where it finds the Jürgen Klinsmann in acres of space. Klinsmann calmly directs his header to the right of the advancing Southall and into the back of the Welsh net.
v Bulgaria, Olympiastadion, Berlin, 15.11.1995
Klinsmann 50., pen 76., Häßler 56. / Stoichkov 47.
Team: Köpke – Sammer – Babbel, Kohler (46. Strunz), Freund – Eilts, Helmer – Basler, Häßler (87. Reuter) – Klinsmann (c), Kuntz (82. Bobić)
0-1 A perfect defence splitting pass from Yordan Letchkov finds Emil Kostadinov, who charges towards the byline before cutting the ball back into the centre of the German penalty area where the unmarked Hristo Stoichkov strokes it into the back of the German net with his right foot.
1-1 A speculative up and under by Stefan Kuntz ends up in the Bulgarian penalty area, where defender Valentin Dartilov completely botches his attempted clearance by scuffing the ball straight into the path of Jürgen Klinsmann. Klinmann makes no mistake as he strokes the ball with his left foot past Dimitar Popov.
2-1 Stefan Kuntz is tripped right at the edge of the Bulgarian penalty area, and Thomas Häßler lines up the resulting free-kick. With the defenders probably expecting one of his curling shots, “Icke” takes everyone by surprise by drilling the ball low and hard into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
3-1 A swift German break down the left sees Kuntz put into space, and the 1. FC Kaiserslautern striker does brilliantly to skip past three men at pace before being brought down in the box by Popov. Klinsmann blasts the resulting penalty to Popov’s left as the ‘keeper goes the wrong way.
Final Group Standings
Other results: Georgia 0-1 Moldova; Wales 2-0 Albania; Moldova 3-2 Wales; Bulgaria 2-0 Georgia; Bulgaria 4-1 Moldova; Georgia 5-0 Wales; Wales 0-3 Bulgaria; Albania 0-1 Georgia; Bulgaria 3-1 Wales; Albania 3-0 Moldova; Georgia 2-0 Albania; Moldova 0-3 Bulgaria; Wales 0-1 Georgia; Moldova 2-3 Albania; Albania 1-1 Bulgaria; Wales 1-0 Moldova; Bulgaria 3-0 Albania; Georgia 2-1 Bulgaria; Albania 1-1 Wales; Moldova 3-2 Georgia.
Goals Summary: Klinsmann (9), Kirsten, Möller (3), Matthäus, Sammer (2), Babbel, Häßler, Helmer, Herrlich, Strunz, Ziege (1), own goals (2). Total 27.