Germany National Football Team: History and Facts 

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As the World Cup Qatar 2022 is starting soon, it’s the right time to remember the legendary teams and their history, and the Germany National Football Team is definitely on the list.  

The German men’s national football team competes in an international men’s football tournament. The German Football Association (Deutscher Fußball-Bund), which was founded in 1900, governs the team. The Federation of International Football Associations and the Union of European Football Associations also have global jurisdiction over the team (UEFA).

Read on and find more about this legendary national team before watching their debut in Qatar. 

Early History and the Foundation of Germany National Football Team 

The German Football Association (DFB) was founded in 1900 by representatives from 86 clubs. This played a significant role in the consolidation of various German regional competitions into a single national league, which occurred in 1902. In 1908, the national team played its first official match, losing 3-5 to Switzerland. They competed in the 1912 Olympics football tournament, which is remembered for Gottfried Fuchs’ ten goals in a 16-0 win over Russia.

The DFB chose the players for the national team until 1926 when Otto Nerz was appointed coach. Germany qualified for the 1934 World Cup after missing out on the inaugural World Cup due to a lack of funds to travel to Uruguay. They went on to defeat Belgium and Sweden before falling to Czechoslovakia in the semi-finals. They finished the tournament on a high note, defeating Austria in the third-place match.

Post-World War II Schism

Austria was annexed by Germany on the eve of WWII. The Austrian national team was quickly disbanded, with Nazi politicians forcing several of their players to join the German team. Germany then competed in the 1938 World Cup but failed to advance beyond the first round in front of a hostile audience. Germany’s worst World Cup performance to date; they had reached the final eight in all of their previous tournaments.

Following WWII, Germany was divided into three states: West Germany, East Germany, and Saarland. They were all barred from international competitions until 1950, preventing them from competing in the 1950 World Cup. West Germany took over most of the country’s pre-war traditions and organizations, including the DFB. The DFB was accepted as a full FIFA member following the World Cup.

Bern’s Miracle

West Germany had little trouble qualifying for the 1954 World Cup four years later. They were assigned to a group with Hungary, Turkey, and South Korea. Following a convincing 4-1 victory over Turkey in the first match, coach Sepp Herberger decided to rest his best players for the Hungary match. They went on to lose 3-8 but still qualified for the knockout stage by defeating Turkey 7-2.

The Germans then defeated Yugoslavia (2-0) and Austria (6-1), setting up a finals rematch with the Mighty Magyars. This Hungarian team, led by the legendary Ferenc Puskás, is widely regarded as one of the best national teams in the sport’s history. They had not been defeated in 32 consecutive matches at that point. Given the rout in the first match, it’s safe to say they were heavy favorites to win the championship.

Hungary was already 2-0 up in the eighth minute. West Germany, on the other hand, responded with goals from Max Morlock and Helmut Rahn, tying the game before the halftime break. Hungary had complete control of the game at that point, but it was Rahn who scored the game-winning goal in the 84th minute, propelling West Germany to their first World Cup title. This upset, dubbed the Bern Miracle, played a significant role in the country regaining international recognition.

Tough Losses Ahead

The World Cups that followed were both relatively successful. They finished fourth in the 1958 tournament after losing to Sweden in the semi-finals and France in the third-place match. The 1962 World Cup was a step back for West Germany, which was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Yugoslavia. In response to these defeats, the DFB established the Bundesliga in 1963, bringing professionalism to German football.

Germany advanced to the World Cup finals in 1966, where they faced hosts England. Though England led 2-1 until the game’s final minutes, West Germany equalized through Wolfgang Weber, forcing the game into extra time. England took the lead after George Hurst scored a controversial goal off the crossbar. Hurst added another goal as fans rushed the field in the game’s final moments, making the final score 4-2.

West Germany would exact its revenge four years later, knocking England out in the quarterfinals. However, in the semi-finals against Italy, they suffered yet another heartbreaking defeat. Germany tied the game again moments before the final whistle in a match later dubbed the “game of the century.” They scored two goals in extra time through Gerd Müller, but it was insufficient to defeat the Italians, who scored three.

More Significant Trophies

West Germany competed in its first European Championship in 1972. They finished first in a group that included Poland, Turkey, and Albania in the qualifiers. They defeated England 3-1 on aggregate in the playoffs for the final four-team tournament. They defeated Belgium (2-1) and the Soviet Union (3-0) in the tournament, with Müller scoring four goals. It was their first major championship in 18 years.

West Germany was the favorite to win the 1974 World Cup because they played on their home turf. West Germany was paired with East Germany, Chile, and Australia in the first round. East Germany won the politically charged match-up 1-0, ensuring that both German teams advanced to the final round. Following this defeat, West Germany altered their lineup and tactics, increasing their chances of winning the competition.

West Germany advanced to the finals with the Netherlands after advancing from the second group, which included Poland, Sweden, and Yugoslavia. The Dutch team, led by Johan Cruyff, played an appealing brand of “total football,” making them a formidable opponent. They took the lead early on when Neeskens converted a penalty. West Germany, however, came back with goals from Breitner and Müller to win the game 2-1.

Success in the Future

Despite fielding strong teams in the next two major tournaments, West Germany was unable to defend either of its titles. They came back from a 2-0 deficit in the finals of Euro 1976 but ultimately lost on penalties. They failed to advance from the second group stage of the 1978 World Cup after losing 1-2 to Austria in the deciding match. This prompted a coaching change, with long-time assistant Jupp Derwall taking over.

West Germany cruised to another major title under Derwall at Euro 1980. This was the first European Championship with eight teams, and West Germany had to finish first in their group to advance to the finals. They accomplished this by defeating Czechoslovakia (1-0) and the Netherlands (3-2) before drawing Greece in the final round. Horst Hrubesch’s brace helped them defeat Belgium 2-1 in the finals.

West Germany’s 1982 World Cup campaign got off to a shaky start with a loss to Algeria. They did, however, recover by defeating Chile and Austria. They drew 0-0 with old rivals England in the second round and defeated Spain 2-1. The semi-final match against France was a nail-biter, with West Germany winning on penalties. They didn’t, however, have enough in the tank for the finals against Italy, who defeated them 3-1.

Beckenbauer’s Effect

Following a disappointing group stage exit at Euro 1984, the DFB turned to its former captain, Franz Beckenbauer. Beckenbauer exhibited many of the same qualities as a coach that he brought to the field. With him in charge, West Germany was almost always guaranteed to reach the tournament’s semi-finals.

This was demonstrated at the 1986 World Cup when the German team battled through arid conditions to reach the finals. They were, however, no match for Argentina’s Maradona-led team, losing the game 2-3. They reached the Euro 1988 semi-finals two years later, but the Netherlands were determined to avenge their 1974 World Cup defeat. Despite leading 1-0 for the majority of the second half, West Germany was defeated 1-2.

West Germany won its third World Cup title in 1990, its third consecutive appearance in the finals. This tournament will be remembered primarily for its lack of goals and defensive tactics. The Germans defeated the Netherlands (2-1), Czechoslovakia (1-0), and England on their way to the finals (4-3 on penalties). Andreas Brehme scored the winning goal in the 85th minute in the final match against Argentina.

Reunion

Following this victory, Beckenbauer retired from the national team, and Berti Vogts took his place. The fall of the Berlin Wall earlier that year, however, had an even greater impact on the team because it meant that West and East Germany would finally reunite. The East German Football Association (DFV) was absorbed into the DFB in October 1990, making this official. The unified German team faced Switzerland in its first official match.

The Euro 1992 tournament was new-look Germany’s first major tournament. Germany advanced from its group, defeating Sweden 3-2 on the way to the finals, where they were defeated by surprise winner Denmark. The 1994 World Cup appeared to be a chance for redemption, but Bulgaria knocked them out in the quarterfinals. Despite leading for the majority of the game, Germany allowed their opponents to come back and win 2-1.

The Euro 1996 tournament featured 16 teams and awarded three points for a win (instead of the previous 2). Germany adapted quickly to the new rules, advancing from their group and defeating Croatia and England on their way to the finals. They then defeated the Czech Republic 2-1, thanks to a brace from Oliver Bierhoff, which included the first golden goal in a major tournament.

Years Gone Abroad

Germany entered one of its worst slumps in history after winning its first trophy as a unified nation. They were knocked out in the quarterfinals of the 1998 World Cup by Croatia. The fans were especially disappointed at the following two European Championships (2000 and 2004), as they failed to advance from the group stage.

Despite a difficult draw (England, Portugal, and Romania), the Euro 2000 tournament was one of the team’s least successful. In three matches, they have only one point. Lothar Matthäus, one of the greatest players in the national team, made his final appearance in the last game at the age of 39. His career was cut short by a 0-3 defeat to Portugal.

The 2002 World Cup didn’t inspire much confidence either, especially considering Germany barely qualified for the tournament. Nonetheless, a string of 1-0 victories in the knockout stages propelled them to the finals, where they were set to face Brazil. However, the suspension of star midfielder Michael Ballack significantly reduced their chances, and they lost the game 0-2.

Germany found itself in a similar situation four years later. They again outperformed expectations, winning three games in their group and defeating Sweden and Argentina in the knockout stages. They were eliminated by two quick goals at the end of extra time in a hard-fought semi-finals match against eventual champions Italy. Then, in the third-place match, they defeated Portugal, with Miroslav Klose winning the Golden Boot.

A New Epoch of Germany National Football Team 

With the appointment of Joachim Löw as head coach in 2008, Germany switched from a defensive to an attacking approach. The first signs of this shift were evident at Euro 2008 when Germany battled their way to the finals against Spain. However, without effectively responding to the Spanish “tiki-taka,” Germany lost the game 0-1.

Germany also performed well in the following two European Championships. They won all three group matches and defeated Greece in the quarterfinals in 2012, setting a record of 15 wins in competitive matches, but were defeated 1-2 by Italy. They also lost in the semi-finals in 2016; this time, they were unable to advance past France, who won their first competitive match against Germany in 58 years.

Between these two appearances, Germany famously won the World Cup in 2014. After advancing to the knockout stages, they defeated Algeria (2-1) in the round of 16 and France (2-1) in the quarterfinals (1-0). In the semi-finals, they defeated hosts Brazil 7-1, scoring four goals in seven minutes in the first half. They defeated Messi’s Argentina in the finals thanks to a late Mario Götze goal.