La Meinau, Strasbourg, 14.06.1984
– / –
Coming into the 1984 tournament as defending European champions, Germany would be presented with a tough but not impossible first phase group consisting of Spain and two tournament debutants – Portugal and Romania. Despite their poor form coming into the tournament, Jupp Derwall’s side would be expected to make to at least the semi-finals.
Germany’s opening opponents would be Portugal, and both sides would line up in the eastern city of Strasbourg for what would be the first competitive international encounter between the two countries. The Mannschaft had been beaten 1-0 by the Portuguese in a friendly in Lisbon the previous year – their first defeat in six matches against this opposition – but had been expected to claim the points; Fernando Cabrita’s team on the other hand would be desperate to show what they had to offer having qualified for a major international tournament for the first time since their third-place finish at the FIFA World Cup in 1966.
Derwall’s team selection would see a solid-looking 4-4-2 formation that would have plenty of steel and experience – but precious little flair. Bernd Schuster had been injured before the tournament and the out of favour Hansi Müller had been left out of the squad, and the eleven players that would take to the field in Strasbourg would be perfectly suited to the Nationaltrainer’s attritional approach. Even the potentially creative sweeper Uli Stielike would find himself employed as a defensive chopper.
In front of a crowd of just under forty-five thousand on what was a pleasant June afternoon in eastern France, Germany walked out in their familiar white shirts and black shorts, with the Portuguese in their usual red and green.
The opening fifteen minutes of the game would produce little in the way of genuine opportunities for either side, with the only shot on target coming from Karl-Heinz Rummenigge who gently warmed the gloves of Manuel Bento in the Portuguese goal.
With skipper Rummenigge sitting back in midfield Germany’s patient approach was not creating any openings, while a central formation packed with defensive midfielders was enough to prevent the opposition from overcommitting themselves. The Portuguese for their part were more than happy to also bide their time; as a spectacle, it was all pretty dire for the some sections of the crowd whose only real sense of excitement had been the almost methodical booing and jeering of German ‘keeper Toni Schumacher every time he touched the ball. Almost two years had passed since Schumacher’s foul on Patrick Battiston during the World Cup semi-final in Seville, but some people were determined to have the German ‘keeper not forget it.
The crowd would have to wait until over a quarter of the match had passed before either goalkeeper would have to make a genuine save, and the first chance would fall to the Portuguese when some excellent buildup play from Chalana and Jordão allowed Jaime Pacheco to strike a crisp shot from some twenty-five yards that was well parried by Schumacher, diving to his right. Klaus Allofs sent a well-directed cross into the box that was bundled well wide by Guido Buchwald and then sent a shot of his own high and wide of the target after a high cross from Karl-Heinz Förster had eluded Bento, but these half-chances would be the best that a toothless and unambitious German attack could muster in what had been forty-five minutes of fairly pedestrian football.
At the half-time whistle the score was locked at 0-0, and the first forty-five minutes had passed with only the one genuine shot on goal. The crowd were distinctly unimpressed, though the teams themselves must have felt fairly content at going into the break without having conceded.
The sun would come out for the start of the second half, and on the pitch things would continue in much the same way as they had for the first forty-five minutes. A Rudi Völler effort would flash across the face of the Portuguese goal, while at the other end Jordão would smash his shot yards wide of the target before sending in a low ball across the German box – only to have nobody there to meet it. The game would have 0-0 written all over it.
Skipper Karl-Heinz Rummenigge rolls up his sleeves, but his side would be unable to penetrate an obdurate Portuguese defence
Germany’s first real opportunity of the second half would come some ten minutes in – inevitably, from a set-piece. After Rudi Völler’s run towards the opposition penalty area was ended by Frasco’s mistimed challenge, Klaus Allofs’ well-struck free-kick would evade Bento before skimming off the outside of the right upright. With just over an hour gone Portugal would have their turn as Carlos Manuel managed to outpace the German defence down the right flank, sending in a cross that just evaded Jordão before skidding in front of ‘keeper Schumacher and across the face of the German goal.
With a quarter of the match to go it seemed that even Jupp Derwall was getting tired of his side’s inability to create a decent opportunity, and in what was for him a truly bold move replaced the solid pairing of Guido Buchwald and Wolfgang Rolff with two far more creative midfielders, Lothar Matthäus and Rudi Bommer. Just moments later however it would be the Portuguese who would come closest to breaking the deadlock, as Jaime Pacheco’s excellently-timed pass found João Pinto who was able to hold off Hans-Peter Briegel before launching a right-footed shot from just inside the eighteen-yard box that was spectacularly turned over the bar by the hitherto untroubled Schumacher.
Not long after Schumacher had been forced into making his first genuine save of the match Bento would get his turn with eighteen minutes remaining, as an Allofs shot from distance was well turned around the post by the Portuguese ‘keeper. Both sides seemed unable to penetrate each others’ defences, and the total of two decent shots at goal – with both of these being long-range efforts – pretty much summed things up. When either side made their way into the final third of opposition half, every move seemed to end in a misplaced pass or cross that was either badly overhit or sent aimlessly into the ether.
With three minutes left on the clock Derwall’s side would almost snatch the points. Picking up the ball out on the right flank just inside the opposition half, Bernd Förster swung in a high and hopeful long pass towards the opposition penalty area. The ball was missed completely by Lima Pereira and nodded on by Andreas Brehme, falling to Völler who managed to steal into space between two retreating defenders before hooking a right-footed shot wide of the target with the goal at his mercy. It was not what one could call a gilt-edged chance, but one that a striker of Völler’s ability should have been expected to finish.
Völler’s miss would be the final act of what had been a fairly forgettable ninety and something minutes, with a share of the spoils being more satisfactory for the Portuguese than the reigning champions. Given the complete dearth of chances for either side it is not hard not to say that the draw was probably the correct result – and that Portugal deserved their point.
Germany: Schumacher – B. Förster, Stielike, Kh. Förster, Briegel – Rolff (67. Bommer), Buchwald (67. Matthäus), Kh. Rummenigge (c), Brehme – Völler, K. Allofs
Portugal: Bento – João Pinto, Lima Pereira, Eurico, Álvaro – Carlos Manuel, Sousa, Frasco (79. Veloso), Chalana, Pacheco – Jordão (85. Gomes)
Referee: Romualdas Yushka (Soviet Union)
Assistants: not known
Yellow Cards: – / –
Red Cards: – / –