Although the rivalry between the English and German national football teams can be intense at times, it is often considered to be more of an English obsession. German fans tend to focus on encounters versus Brazil, France and the Netherlands as much, if not more, than those against England. In fact, England has been playing internationals against Germany since 1899 so it is one of the most enduring rivalries in the whole history of international soccer. That said, fans on both sides of the North Sea have enjoyed some fantastic rivalries build up between the leading football clubs in each country. You only have to look at the excitement generated from the last 16 draw in the 2018-19 Champions League to understand just how much fans enjoy these encounters.
On-form Liverpool face a home clash against Bayern Munich, a club with an outstanding record of success in the competition. Likewise, FC Schalke will take on the highly positioned Manchester City. And if that were not enough for those who relish clashes between Premier League clubs and those in the Bundesliga, Tottenham Hotspur will take on Borussia Dortmund. With some justification, the current round of fixtures is being seen by many as a clash between the two leagues, both of which offer high-quality club football week in week out. Yes, fans of the six clubs concerned will take a great deal of interest in how their teams fare but there is also likely to be fascination from football fans across Europe and the globe. Many people who engage in sports betting will be interested in how the Premiership teams get on when pitted against those from the Bundesliga. Not only is there a great deal of fascination with the history of such ties but also in the relative merits of each of the nation’s leagues and – not least – the amount of money clubs in them spend on their players.
The Classic Encounters Between English and German Clubs
One of the things that piques the interest of sports fans when English clubs are drawn against German ones in European competitions is the history of high-quality matches between the two countries. For example, although Bayern Munich may consider their German counterparts Borussia Dortmund to be their main rivals, the 2012 UEFA Champions League Final versus Chelsea produced a truly classic encounter. Perhaps it was because Bayern Munich had just been pipped to the domestic league title by their old foes in Dortmund that the final against the London club took on such significance for the Bavarians. What made the encounter of such significance was the fact that the final was scheduled to be played at Bayern’s home ground. The Bavarian press billed the encounter as Munich’s odds-on chance to redeem their season at home and hyped it as such. When Chelsea restricted the home side to a one all draw after extra time, the pressure on the German team became utterly intense. Chelsea ended up pulling off the narrowest of victories against the odds after penalties.
Another memorable encounter in the Champions League Final came in 1999. This tie also featured Bayern Munich, this time against Manchester United. Contested at Camp Nou in Barcelona, Munich were in the lead for much of the game following an early free-kick which Mario Basler converted. It was only in injury time that one of United’s substitutes, Teddy Sheringham, managed to force an equaliser. Two minutes later, another super-sub Ole Gunnar Solskjær – United’s current caretaker manager – scored the winner, utterly deflating the German team. Interestingly, the final was welcomed widely by English fans, not just those who were avowed supporters of the Manchester club.
However, English clubs have not had it all their own way. Far from it! Famously, the 1975 clash between Bayern Munich and Leeds United ended in victory for the German side. The European Cup Final that year was played in Paris and Leeds fans went on to riot after the two-nil loss, resulting in a ban from European competition which would last two seasons. Borussia Dortmund won the European Cup Winners’ Cup in the 1965-66 season, beating both West Ham and Liverpool on their way to that title.
An Endless Fascination?
Given the many encounters between English and German clubs, you might wonder why these fixtures – as opposed to those between English and French clubs, for instance – attract so much global interest. Perhaps it has something to do with the top-notch soccer that is played but is there more to it than that? The outspoken English manager Brian Clough certainly had a theory. While managing Nottingham Forest, he gained victories over Cologne and Hamburg during his tenure. According to Clough, who was very proud of his record against German clubs, the rivalry stems back to the wartime experiences of older fans. Perhaps this is not so much of an issue for the current generation but one thing is for sure – German and English club fixtures will go on to offer fascinating football for years to come.