Germany had been one of the most attractive teams at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa, and embarked on their campaign to qualify for the 2012 European Championships in Poland and the Ukraine with much enthusiasm and expectation. Joachim Löw’s side were drawn in a six-team group that offered enough of a challenge without being overly threatening: the biggest threat was expected to come from Turkey, while Austria and Belgium both had up and coming young squads. The lower-ranked teams were not expected to be pushovers either: an ever-improving Azerbaijan squad would be meeting the Mannschaft for the second time in as many qualifying campaigns, while Kazakhstan – meeting Germany in international competition for the first time – would present something of a journey into the unknown.
There would be something of a German flavour to the entire group; a number of the Turkish team were either born in Germany or played in the Bundesliga, neighbours Austria and Belgium both had squads full of familiar faces, while even Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan had their own German connection: the coach of the Azeris was none other than former Nationaltrainer Berti Vogts, while the Kazakhs were coached by former Borussia Dortmund and German under-21 defender Bernd Storck.
The campaign got off to a good start with a well-worked win in Belgium as a Miroslav Klose’s goal accounted for a rather unlucky home side, but from that point on it would be smooth sailing for Joachim Löw’s side. Four days after the trip to Brussels Azerbaijan were given a hiding in Köln as Klose scored two more goals, and the following month would see two easy victories against Turkey and Kazakhstan. While the 3-0 result in front of a Turkish-dominated crowd in Berlin probably flattered the disappointing Turks, it took until the second half for the Nationalmannschaft to score in the Kazakh capital Astana. Following a bizarre late kick-off that saw the game start close to midnight, Klose opened the scoring and the Germans eased home with two further goals to make it three clean sheets in four matches.
Germany’s excellent form of 2008 was smoothly transferred to 2009, as Kazakhstan were calmly dissected in Kaiserslautern: a 4-0 victory was achieved with little fuss, and Klose – who had been finding it difficult to get a regular starting place at his club Bayern München, let alone score goals – scored two more to take his tally to eight goals in five qualifying games. Klose would be injured for the next game against Austria in Vienna, a fast-paced encounter that provided what would turn out to be the closest game of the ten-game campaign, but would not be missed too much as his Bayern team-mate Mario Gómez scored both of team’s goals. With the game looking set to finish all-square, Gómez’ last-minute winner was probably a little harsh on what was a brave and at times inventive Austrian side. The hard-worked win in Vienna would be followed by a slightly less taxing encounter in Baku where Azerbaijan were beaten 3-1, and the Mannschaft ended the season clear at the top of the group table with seven wins out of seven.
With three matches remaining Germany just needed one win to secure their place in the finals, and this was achieved in style against an Austrian side that was put to the sword in Gelsenkirchen. In what was truly a gala display, Jogi Löw’s side put six past the hapless Austrians: the mercurial Mesut Özil scored two, Lukas Podolski brought an end to a barren run, Miroslav Klose returned from injury to score his ninth goal of the qualifying campaign, and rising young stars André Schürrle and Mario Götze rounded off the evening in spectacular fashion.
In previous campaigns the German team had tended to go off the boil once qualification had been achieved – games that came immediately to mind were the flat three-goal defeat to the Czech Republic in 2007 and the disappointing last minute salvage act against Finland in 2009. The Nationaltrainer was determined that this would be the case for the final two matches against Turkey and Belgium, and that his team would be chasing an unprecedented ten wins out of ten. The outlook of the team would be shaped by the dynamic that had started to develop in the side with the selection of new and younger players: every place in the side was up for grabs and every man had something to prove, which in turn made for a team that would have little mercy on the opposition.
Germany’s last win in Turkey had taken place under Jupp Derwall in 1983, and after surviving an initial barrage from the home side they quickly asserted their dominance. An excellently-taken strike from Mario Gómez took the Mannschaft into a half-time lead, and two more goals were scored either side of what would turn out to be a Turkish consolation effort to take the score to an emphatic and well deserved 3-1. The game against Belgium four days later would follow a very similar pattern, with the Germans romping to another 3-1 win – sparked by a stunning strike from Mesut Özil – after the visitors had looked threatening in the first half an hour. With Germany away and clear at the top of the table, their victory – coupled with Turkey’s 1-0 win over Azerbaijan – sent the Turks through to the play-offs, with the Belgians missing out in third place.
As the curtain fell on what had been another highly successful qualifying campaign, Jogi Löw’s side had completed their mission of ten wins in ten matches – an achievement that bettered the 100% record achieved in qualifying for the 1982 World Cup in which only eight games were played. With a total of thirty-four goals scored and only seven conceded, Germany’s overall record was the best among all of the qualifiers, and once again set them up as one of the tournament favourites alongside Spain and the Netherlands.
As all of the qualifying games for Euro 2012 were played after this site was soft-launched, reports of all of the games are available on the News Blog. To view each individual blog report, just click on the “article” icon to the right of the score.
Fixture List and Results
v Belgium, King Baudouin Stadium, Brüssel/Bruxelles, 03.09.2010
Team: Neuer – Lahm (c), Mertesacker, Badstuber, Jansen (46. Westermann) – Schweinsteiger, Khedira – T. Müller, Özil (88. Cacau), Podolski (70. Kroos) – Klose
1-0 A lazy pass from Marouane Fellaini to Daniel van Buyten inside the Belgian penalty area is seized upon by Bastian Schweinsteiger, who robs his FC Bayern team-mate of possession before playing the ball back to Thomas Müller who is lurking just outside the box. Müller turns smartly and delivers the perfect ball that rolls beyond the defence for Miroslav Klose, who delivers an ice-cool finish past the advancing Logan Bailly.
v Azerbaijan, RheinEnergieStadion, Köln, 07.09.2010
Team: Neuer – Riether, Mertesacker (11. Westermann , Badstuber, Lahm (c) – Schweinsteiger (78. Cacau), Khedira – Müller (62. Marin), Özil, Podolski – Klose
1-0 A corner taken from the right is taken short and finds Miro Klose, whose neat horizontal ball finds the roving Heiko Westermann. Westermann’s first shot is parried by ‘keeper Kamran Agayev, but he gets a second bite and takes a second to settle himself before hitting the roof of the net.
2-0 Podolski makes space down the centre and finds Mesut Özil, who times a superb return ball for the 1. FC Köln winger who strokes a superb left-foot shot off the inside of the post.
3-0 Full-back Holger Badstuber charges up the centre of the pitch and plays a lovely ball through the Azeri defence to find Poldolski in space on the left, who unselfishly taps the ball into the path of Miroslav Klose who can’t miss from the edge of the six-yard box.
4-0 Sami Khedira finds space down the right after collecting a perfectly-weighted through-ball from Westermann, and his cross intended for Klose is turned into his own net by Azeri skipper Rashad Sadygov with ‘keeper Agayev left completely wrong-footed.
4-1 Vagif Javadov swings in the corner from the left for Azerbaijan, and the ball ends up in the back of the German net in a somewhat bizarre fashion. ‘Keeper Manuel Neuer attacks the ball at his near post, but instead sees it squirt straight through his hands and over the line.
5-1 Subtitute Marko Marin and Sascha Riether play a neat one-two at pace down the right, and win a corner. Özil swings it in, and Badstuber takes advantage of being in acres of space to bury a header to Azayev’s right for his first international goal.
6-1 Poldolski makes another charging run down the right, and his cross finds substitute Cacau with his back towards goal. The Stuttgart man – either through luck or that curious thing called Brazilian-engineered design – finds Klose who sweeps it in with his left foot.
v Turkey, Olympiastadion, Berlin, 08.10.2010
Team: Neuer – Lahm (c), Mertesacker, Badstuber, Westermann – Khedira, Kroos – Müller, Özil (90. Marin), Podolski (86. Träsch) – Klose (90. Cacau)
1-0 A high and teasing right-wing cross from Philipp Lahm is met by the leaping Thomas Müller, whose well-directed header is tipped onto the underside of the crossbar by Turkish ‘keeper Volkan Demirel. Unluckily the Turks, the ball drops perfectly for master-poacher Miroslav Klose, who steals in to nod the ball home from a couple of yards out before Volkan can recover his footing.
2-0 Müller, Lahm and Mesut Özil combine effectively to set up and attack down the right, with Müller playing the ball back to Lahm who rolls a perfectly-timed pass back inside to the fast-advancing Özil. The midfield playmaker controls the ball beautifully before slipping it under Volkan with a clinical left-footed finish.
3-0 Volkan receives the ball from a defender and doesn’t look to be in any great danger, but he fluffs his clearance by passing it straight to Klose. With no opposition defenders in sight, Klose takes the ball to the penalty spot before tapping in a right-footed shot that nutmegs the unfortunate ‘keeper.
v Kazakhstan, Astana-Arena, Astana, 12.10.2010
Team: Neuer – Lahm (c), Mertesacker, Badstuber, Westermann – Khedira, Kroos – Müller (71. Marin), Özil (79. Cacau), Podolski – Klose (55. Gómez)
1-0 Lukas Podolski picks the ball up on the left touchline just inside the Kazakhstan half, and engineers a well-crafted one-two with Mesut Özil that unlocks the defence. Özil finds the advancing Podolski with a perfectly-weighted pass, and the 1. FC Köln winger makes his way to the byline before cutting the ball back for Miroslav Klose. Klose outwits his marker with a neat touch with his left foot before sweeping in into the net with his left.
2-0 Substitute Mario Gómez gets the ball just inside the opposition half, finds Podolski to his left and charges forward to receive a fantastic return pass that slices through the Kazakh defence. One step ahead of his marker, Gómez strokes the ball with perfect precision across the diving ‘keeper Andrei Sidelnikov and sends it skidding just inside the post and into the right inside netting.
3-0 Philipp Lahm picks out Podolski halfway inside the opposition half on the left touchline, and the winger takes things into his own hands to score a fantastic individual goal. He zeroes diagonally in on the target, bursting inside, through and outside at least six opponents before wrong-footing Sidelnikov and driving a firm left-footed shot into the right-hand corner of the net.
v Kazakhstan, Fritz-Walter-Stadion, Kaiserslautern, 26.03.2011
Team: Neuer – Lahm (c), Mertesacker, Badstuber, Aogo – Khedira, Schweinsteiger (78. Kroos) – Müller (78. Götze), Özil, Podolski (65. Gómez) – Klose
1-0 Germany in a free-kick out by the left touchline, which is perfectly swung in by Bastian Schweinsteiger. The ball flies over the box and evades everyone, falling to the unmarked Miroslav Klose at the far post who ghosts into the perfect position to stab the ball past the static ‘keeper David Loria from inside the six-yard box with his right foot.
2-0 A Mesut Özil free-kick just outside the penalty area out on the right is beautifully floated towards the Kazakhstan goal, and the ‘keeper has no chance as Thomas Müller gets in front of the first defender to glance a well-timed header across and into the left inside netting.
3-0 Schweinsteiger’s inswinging corner from the left is cleared by the Kazkahstan defence, but only as far as Özil who has the space and time to craft a sweet left-footed cross back into the box. Lying in wait just outside the six-yard box is Müller, who controls the ball neatly on his chest before blasting in a low right-footed shot into the left-hand corner of the net.
4-0 Substitute Toni Kroos dinks a teasing high ball into the Kazakhstan box, and it is well taken by Klose who flicks it up in the general direction of Mario Gómez. Gómez is unable to reach it, but Sami Khedira takes advantage of some indecisive Kazakh defending to seize possession and make his way to the byline. He follows it with a sharp square ball past the helpless Loria, and Klose walks it into the empty net.
v Austria, Ernst-Happel-Stadion, Wien, 03.06.2011
Team: Neuer – Lahm, A. Friedrich, Hummels, Schmelzer – Khedira (69. Badstuber), Kroos (90. Aogo) – Th. Müller, Özil, Podolski (67. Schürrle) – Gómez
1-0 A Toni Kroos corner from the left is nodded towards the Austrian goal by the leaping Arne Friedrich, but before defender Christian Fuchs can get his bearings and clear the danger Mario Gómez is in front of him to almost accidentally nudge the ball past ‘keeper Christian Gratzei and into the net with his knee.
1-1 Julian Baumgartlinger hits a high ball across the entire width of the pitch to find David Alaba out on the left, and the young FC Bayern München winger cuts inside to cross towards Martin Harnik who is bearing down on the German goal. Defender Arne Friedrich manages get in front of Harnik, but his attempted sliding clearance deflects the ball into his own net under Manuel Neuer.
2-1 Kroos sends in a corner from the left that is only half-cleared by the Austrian defence, and the ball falls to Philipp Lahm who returns it back into the box with a high looping cross. Mario Gómez charges past defender Daniel Royer to get there first, and beats Gratzei with a firm and well-directed header from inside the six-yard box to secure the win right at the death.
v Azerbaijan, Tofik Bakhramov Stadium, Baku, 07.06.2011
Team: Neuer – Höwedes, Badstuber, Hummels, Aogo – Lahm, Kroos – Th. Müller (88. Holtby), Özil (81. Götze), Podolski (76. Schürrle) – Gómez
1-0 Philipp Lahm threads pass through for Benedikt Höwedes to the right of the Azerbaijan penalty area, who chips the ball back into the box from the byline. It floats over everyone and is picked up by Mesut Özil out on the left, who ghosts past his marker before coolly sending a skidding left-foot shot that cuts across ‘keeper Kamran Agayev before cannoning in off the far post.
2-0 Höwedes initiates a move down the left, and sends a well-timed low long ball from inside his own half to Özil who floats past two defenders before reaching the opposition penalty area. He plays a perfect square ball across Agayev, and Mario Gómez is there to meet it with his right boot from the edge of the six-yard box.
2-1 Vüqar Nadirov breaks down the left, and swings in a high cross that is only half-cleared by the flying Manuel Neuer. Mats Hummels scuffs at Arif Isaev’s low square ball and Holger Badstuber’s attempted clearing header falls to Rashad Sadygov, whose rather soft shot at goal turns into the perfect pass for Murad Huseynov, who sweeps it past the stricken Neuer with his right foot from just outside the six-yard box.
3-1 Badstuber picks out substitute Mario Götze down the left with a perfectly-weighted pass, and the youngster’s pace takes him past two opponents before he cuts the ball back from the byline for Gómez. The FC Bayern striker brings the ball under control well but can only hit his shot straight at Agayev, but supersub André Schürrle is perfectly positioned to slam in the rebound from around eight yards with his right foot.
v Austria, Veltins-Arena, Gelsenkirchen, 02.09.2011
Team: Neuer – Höwedes (46. Boateng), Hummels, Badstuber, Lahm – Schweinsteiger, Kroos (85. Götze) – Müller, Özil, Podolski (74. Schürrle) – Klose
1-0 Bastian Schweinsteiger puts in a decent cross from the right byline which is only half cleared by the Austrian defence, and Mesut Özil’s somewhat nonchalant on-target shot from distance is deftly deflected in by the right boot of master-poacher Miroslav Klose.
2-0 The Austrian defence are torn apart as Özil picks up the ball on the left and charges towards the box; a quick one-two with the ever-alert Klose, and the little number eight is through on goal. After a quick skip past ‘keeper Christian Gratzei and a deft left-footed clip the ball is in the back of the net.
3-0 Left-back Holger Badstuber initiates an attack down the left flank with the help of Toni Kroos and Lukas Podolski, and serves up the perfect pass for the 1. FC Köln winger. Podolski needs no second invitation as his well-placed left-footed shot beats Gratzei at his near post.
3-1 From nowhere, Austrian have a goal. A hopeful cross from Florian Klein, and Marko Arnautovic’s header takes a slight deflection off Badstuber before finding its way into the German net. Manuel Neuer is caught out by both the deflection and the awkward bounce, and can’t get anywhere near it.
4-1 Austria win a free-kick, but in a flash the ball makes its way to the other end of the field. A headed clearance by centre-back Mats Hummels, a long punt foward by Badstuber, a neat little nod forward by Thomas Müller, and a clinical left-footed finish by Özil who slots the ball inside Gratzei.
4-2 Austria get their second goal from nowhere. After a botched German clearance, Arnautovic flicks the ball back into the box for the unmarked German-born Martin Harnik to smash it past Neuer on the half-volley.
5-2 The energetic Müller charges in from the right into the Austrian penalty area and plays a neat a one-two with Klose. Having creating the vacuum in the middle of the empty penalty area, Müller leaves the ball for substitute André Schürrle to stroke into the back of the net past the stricken Gratzei with his right foot.
6-2 Müller makes another sprint down the right flank and switches inside the defender to find substitute Mario Götze with a perfectly-weight ball, and the teenager hits the Austrians for six with a spectacular right-footed volleyed finish that pings in off the right post.
v Turkey, Türk Telekom Arena, İstanbul, 07.10.2011
Team: Neuer – Boateng (74. Höwedes), Mertesacker, Badstuber, Lahm (c) – Schweinsteiger, Khedira – Müller, Götze (90. Reus), Podolski (62. Schürrle) – Gómez
1-0 Manuel Neuer’s huge clearing throw finds Thomas Müller on the right. The Bayern man looks up and lofts a fabulous pass across the width of the pitch to find Mario Gómez, who takes the ball down beautifully before jinking past his marker Servet Çetin and stroking the ball into the right side of the net with his left foot.
2-0 Neuer’s long clearance finds the marauding Mario Götze on the left, who advances deep into the opposition half and shows great skill to work the ball across the edge of the area. André Schürrle calmly leaves it for the fast advancing Müller, who finds the back of the net with a sweet right-footed shot that almosts floats past ‘keeper Volkan Demirel.
2-1 After a fast Turkish break down the right flank, Gökhan Gönül’s cross from the loops over the German defence and the unmarked Hakan Balta slides in to put the ball into the roof of the net, leaving Neuer no chance.
3-1 Müller makes a great break and cuts inside into the box, where he is challenged by Gönül. Müller goes down, and English referee Martin Atkinson points to the spot. Bastian Schweinsteiger steps up to take the kick, and sends Volkan the wrong way with a crisp shot that nestles in the lower right-hand corner of the Turkish net.
v Belgium, Esprit Arena, Düsseldorf, 11.10.2011
Team: Neuer – Höwedes, Hummels, Mertesacker, Lahm (c) (84. Gündoğan) – Khedira – Müller (71. Reus), Özil, Kroos, Schürrle – Gómez (77. Cacau)
1-0 Germany win a corner out on the left, which is played short to Thomas Müller who plays the ball across the box to Sami Khedira. Khedira’s shot on goal is blocked, but he is able to regain possession out on the right and plays a short reverse pass back to Mesut Özil who is lurking just outside the penalty area. With a sweep of his left foot, Özil slams the ball into the top right-hand corner of the net via the underside of the crossbar.
2-0 Belgium win a corner but their move breaks down, and Özil nonchalantly picks out Mario Gómez just ouside his own penalty area. Gómez charges just beyond the half-way line, and finds the fast-moving André Schürrle down the left with a perfectly timed pass. Schürrle continues his drive forward and calmly dinks the ball over the advancing Simon Mignolet.
3-0 Per Mertesacker comes out of defence and finds Müller, who then finds Özil who in turn plays a wonderful one-two with Gómez. The Bayern striker belies his reputation for clumsiness as he skips past Vincent Kompany and delivers a beautiful left-footed finish in the low right-hand corner of the Belgian net.
3-1 Belgium win a corner out on the left, and it is swung into the six yard box. Manuel Neuer has a wild flap at the ball and misses it completely at his near post as Marouane Fellaini gets above the almost static Mertesacker to head the ball into the back of the German net.
Final Group Standings
Other results: Kazakhstan 0-3 Turkey; Turkey 3-2 Belgium; Austria 2-0 Kazakhstan; Kazakhstan 0-2 Belgium; Austria 3-0 Azerbaijan; Azerbaijan 1-0 Turkey; Belgium 4-4 Austria; Austria 0-2 Belgium; Turkey 2-0 Austria; Belgium 4-1 Azerbaijan; Kazakhstan 2-1 Azerbaijan; Belgium 1-1 Turkey; Azerbaijan 1-1 Belgium; Turkey 2-1 Kazakhstan; Azerbaijan 3-2 Kazakhstan; Austria 0-0 Turkey; Azerbaijan 1-4 Austria; Belgium 4-1 Kazakhstan; Kazakhstan 0-0 Austria; Turkey 1-0 Azerbaijan.
Goals Summary: Klose (9), Gómez (6), Özil (5), Müller, Podolski, Schürrle (3), Badstuber, Götze, Schweinsteiger, Westermann (1). Own goals (1). Total 34.