Argentina vs. Germany – Maradona, a crib sheet and the World Cup win of 1990

Both Germany and Argentina can boast about a rich football history, a history that has seen them win a combined total of 5 World Cups. On Sunday the two teams are meeting each other in a World Cup final for the third time. For both of these nations, their last World Cup win came against each other (back in 1986 and 1990). Germany are in fact setting a new record — they are the only team who has managed to reach a World Cup final on 8 occasions.

These teams have played against each other 6 times at World Cups, seeing Germany win 4 of those matches and only losing one. The only draw between these two sides came during the group stage of the 1966 World Cup in England. La Albiceleste and Die Nationalmannschaft ended up sharing the spoils after a goalless draw.

Taking a closer look at their shared World Cup history, one could certainly appreciate why Sunday’s pairing seems fitting. Whenever these two sides have met at the World Cup their matches, the circumstances surrounding the matches have become part of footballing legend. Here are some of the most memorable moments from Germany’s matches against Argentina at previous World Cups.

Maradona’s World Cup (1986)

The tournament in Mexico didn’t get off to a good start for Germany. The team only managed to draw 1-1 against Uruguay in their opening match (a mistake by Lotthar Matthäus saw Germany concede the first goal), before the national team managed to pull of a scrappy 2-1 over Scotland.

Ahead of the match against Denmark star striker Karl-Heinz Rummenigge had gotten into an argument with Pierre Littbarski and Toni Schumacher. National team coach Franz Beckenbauer had to step in to avoid seeing this argument get out of hand. In the last match of the group stage against Germany conceded the first goal of the match for a third consecutive time and Die Nationalmannschaft were unable to get back into the match. Denmark’s coach Sepp Piontek was dismayed by Germany’s performance, stating that Germany had very little to offer.

After a narrow win against Morocco and a penalty shoot win over the hosts Mexico, Germany somehow progressed to the semi finals. France were beaten handily 2-0, meaning that Germany would play their second World Cup final in a row. Furthermore, Germany’s win meant also that Die Nationalmannschaft was the first team to compete in 5 World Cup finals.

Their opponents Argentina had been great up to this point, led by their dazzling playmaker Diego Maradona. El Diego stood also for the biggest controversy of the tournament when he used his hand to score against the English national team, the famed ‘hand of God’ goal.

The final between Germany and Argentina was amongst the most dramatic ones of the tournament’s history. By the 55th minute Argentina had taken a 2-0 lead through José Luis Brown and Jorge Valdano. Germany didn’t give up, though,and managed to equalise in the 82nd minute. Two corner kicks from Brehme were the key to Germany getting back into the match, however, as Lotthar Matthäus would later say, the two goals had given Germany the impression that they were going to win the tournament. Beckenbauer had allowed his players to go all out on attack when Germany were chasing the two goal deficit and the players weren’t going to stop.

Only three minutes after the equaliser Jorge Luis Burruchaga marched through the German defence, which had moved high up the pitch, and scored the winning goal for La Albiceleste. The 1982 World Cup final is amongst the best finals of the competition’s history, given the sheer drama and excitement it managed to produce.

Germany’s ugly win (1990)

Four years later the two teams met in the World Cup final once again. This time around the Argentinians were hampered by suspensions and injuries, meaning that their coach Bilardo had to do without Batista, Giusti, Olarticoechea and Caniggia. Maradona had been the best player at the World Cup four years ago, but in 1990 the playmaker was feeling the effects of his weight loss medication and his drug use. The quality of football produced by La Albiceleste suffered as a result, and the Argentineans only won 2 of their 6 matches at the World Cup. Their matches against Yugoslavia and Italy were decided during penalty shoot outs. Germany on the other hand managed to score 14 goals during their six matches, which at that point was a new record. Playmaker Matthäus was on song and the attacking department around Völler, Klinsmann and the midfielder Hässler and Littbarski had been impressive throughout the entire tournament.

Bilardo decided to approach the match with an emphasis on defending, allowing Germany to attack most of the time. The first half didn’t produce many  highlights, and in the second half the match got ugly. Mozon was sent off for a nasty challenge on Klinsmann 20 minutes after he had been subbed on for Ruggeri. Germany were slowly managing to find their way, but their efforts weren’t rewarded until the 85th minute. Matthäus had sent Rudi Völler on his way, but the AS Roma striker was brought down by Sensini. The penalty was converted by Andy Brehme. After Germany had taken the lead the referee became the focal point of the Argentinians anger. Matters got worse when Mezotti was sent off for an attack on Jürgen Kohler.

Germany had created 155 shots and scored 15 goals, more than any other team. However, it wasn’t their attacking qualities which grabbed the headlines. It had been a nasty final, played between one side which only chose to defend and a German team which failed to find their way through.

Lehmann’s crib sheet (2006)

The national team’s 2006 World Cup campaign took most Germans by surprise. Jürgen Klinsmann’s new training regimes had been scrutinised by the media ahead of the tournament and the memory of the team’s poor performance at the EUROs two years earlier lingered among supporters of the German team. After a somewhat bumpy start Germany managed to get past Sweden in the last 16 to reach the next round. At that point Germany had discovered a new side of itself, showing the entire world that Germans knew how to party and to celebrate a World Cup.

Argentina proved a much tougher task in the next round, however, with most Germans spent the match anxious for the result. Roberto Ayala gave La Albiceleste the lead after 49 minutes.  Klinsmann’s team, though, found their way back into the match. Miroslav Klose equalised after 80 minutes. but there was still no winner after 120 minutes. Both teams had never lost a penalty shoot out at a World Cup before this match, but this time one of them was going to experience their first loss.

Oliver Kahn wished his bitter rival Jens Lehmann the best of luck ahead of the shoot out, and goalkeeping coach Andreas Köpke gave Lehmann a now famous crib sheet. Köpke had studied the Argentinian penalty takers ahead of the match and compiled a list of their characteristics. In the end Lehmann was able to guess the right corner on all four occasions and he saved two penalties. The meticulous work of Köpke and Lehmann’s good goalkeeping secured Germany a place amongst the last four. These days one can admire the piece of paper which Köpke’s notes were written on at a museum in Bonn.

The barnstorming Germans too much for La Albiceleste (2010)

Four years later, Germany were once again among the contenders to win the World Cup as South Africa became the first nation on the African continent to host the tournament. Die Nationalmannschaft began the tournament by defeating Australia 4-0 and the appealing, barnstorming counter attacking style of Löw’s young team provided a great deal of entertainment for a worldwide audience.. England was swept aside with a comprehensive 4-1 beating in the last 16 and the Argentinians, now coached by El Diego, were no match for the national team either. Thomas Müller started the scoring early and Germany were simply ruthless in exploiting the space given to the team during the second half. The last meeting between these two sides at a World Cup ended in a 4-0 win for Löw’s team.

The following two tabs change content below.

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.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.