Classic EURO Performances – 1992 – Germany 0 – 2 Denmark

How Yugoslavia’s last minute replacement shocked Germany.

Denmark had failed to qualify earn a Euro berth during their qualification campaign to reach the tournament. Coach Richard Møller Nielsen had already made plans to renovate his kitchen, and most of the players had already planned their June holidays. Only one friendly against the CIS was left, and then the Danish players and their coach could relax if everything had gone according to plan. The detoriating domestic situation in Yugoslavia, and the  war that was haunting the country, saw Yugoslavia forfeiting their place in the 1992 Euros. Møller Nielsen’s kitchen had to wait, because he was suddenly forced to take his team to the 1992 Euros in Sweden.

A hastily assembled squad got together in Denmark for a few training sessions before leaving for the Euro’s in Sweden. The expectations of the Danish public were low at best, and the rest of Europe wasn’t considering the Danes to be a title-winning side either.

How they got the final

The low expectations allowed the Danes to relax and play according to former Arsenal player John Jensen. Not facing any sort of pressure, the team managed to get through the group stages. Denmark tied in their first group match 0-0 against England, before losing 1-0 against the host Sweden, their Scandinavian rivals.  The Danes managed to pull off an impressive 2-1 win over France in their third group match, seeing them take the second spot in their group behind Sweden.

Germany were saved by Thomas Hässler in their first group match against CIS. His 90th minute equalizer gave Germany a vital point in their first group match. Germany beat a lackluster Scottish team in their second match 2-0, with goals from Karl-Heinz Riedle and Stefan Effenberg. The Netherlands got on over their neighbors in the last group match, winning 3-1 against Germany.

Both semi-finals in the 1992 Euro’s were highly entertaining affairs. The Danish defeated the Netherlands in a penalty shoot out. The first 90 minutes produced a 2-2 draw between the sides, and extra time didn’t was goalless. Mario van Basten missed the Netherland’s second penalty, whilst all the other 9 penalty takers managed to tuck their spot kicks away. Germany managed to recover from their defeat against the Dutch, winning 3-2 against the host’s Sweden.


Germany: Illgner – Helmer – Reuter, Kohler, Buchwald, Brehme (c) – Häßler, Effenberg (80. Thom), Sammer (46. Doll) – Klinsmann, Riedle

Denmark: Schmeichel – L. Olsen – Piechnik, K. Nielsen – Sivebæk (67. C. Christiansen), Vilfort, J. Jensen, H. Larsen, Christofte – Povlsen, B. Laudrup

1st half: The modern Danes vs. German old school

Germany chose to go into the match in a 1-4-3-2 formation, playing Gudio Buchwald as the sweeper in the German defense. The Danes on their side had implemented the flat four back line., playing a 4-4-1-1 formation, with Michael Laudrup playing behind the striker. While the Danes were able to  outnumber the Germans in midfield, the Germans on their side outnumbered the Danish strikers and wingers in defense, creating a stalemate that didn’t produce many chances. The Danes had first and foremost reached the final by being a sound and solid defensive unit,

Captains Olsen and Brehme lead their teams out onto the pitch.

Stefan Reuter had the first decent chance of the game, when a pass by Mathias Sammer reached him. Storming into the box Reuter tried to lift the ball over the advancing Peter Schmeichel. The Danish giant managed to deflect the ball, and kept Reuter out.

Despite having most of the game for the opening period of the match, it was Germany who conceded the first goal of the match. Andi Brehme was tackled by Kim Vilfort after a pass by Jürgen Kohler. Vilfort worked his way into the box, and provided a brilliant cut back for the advancing John Jensen, who placed the ball behind Bodo Illgner in the German goal.

Both Jürgen Klinsmann and Stefan Effenberg had a good efforts kept out afterwards. Klinsmann was kept out by a brilliant safe from Schmeichel, while Effenberg managed to hit a Danish defender when he fired a shot goalwards from the resulting corner.

2nd half: Germany fail to get the equalizer

Denmark was happy to sit, allowing Germany to chase the equalizer. National team coach Berti Vogts had taken out Mathias Sammer at half time, replacing him by fellow East-German Thomas Doll, trying to give Germany more of a punch going forward.

The opening phase of the match passed without any major chances to any of the teams. Germany managed to misplace a number of passes, and a few promising attacks broke down, because of a lack of accuracy.

Vilfort’s second sealed the upset

Jürgen Klinnsmann was found by Reuter with a brilliant in the 73rd minute of the match. The future national team coach managed to get rid of his defenders and chipped the ball towards Riedle, but the Lazio striker was just beaten to the punch by Kent Nielsen.

The game would be decided six minutes later. Kim Vilfort snapped up a poor clearance by the German defense, using his hand in the process of gaining control over the ball. Afterwards he rounded Thomas Helmer, and getting the ball past Illgner in the German goal with a left footed shot.

Two minutes after the Danes second goal Vogts tried to inject more striking power by bringing on striker Andreas Thom for Effenberg. Thom narrowly missed the goal with his first crack at goal,  but otherwise hsi entrance into the match did little change the outcome.

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 33-year-old football writer and podcaster who has been following the Bundesliga and German football since the early 90s. You can follow him on Twitter, @normusings, and listen to his opinions on @TalkingFussball.

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