Tag Archives: Germany

The Fascination Football Fans Have for Ties Between English and German Clubs

The Allianz Arena, site of the 2012 UEFA Champions League Final
Source: Richard Bartz, Wikimedia

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.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær
Source: Tor Alte Kleven, Wikimedia

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.

England take on Germany in a friendly
Source: Richj1209, Wikimedia

What Happened To World Cup Winner Mesut Özil?

Playing for Arsenal
Source: Wikimedia

A player who was widely regarded as among the most skillful attacking wingers in the world during his pomp, Mesut Özil has recently been seen on the substitutes bench more frequently than he has started for his club. Özil, who has been a key part of the German national squad in three World Cup campaigns, has few peers in terms of his distinguished playing career. And yet, some fans at his North London club, Arsenal, are concerned about his current form, commitment and the longevity of his career. The 30-year-old midfielder may be in the autumn of his career but with such pedigree, few top sides would not wish to have his experience and skills on board. Why then is there so much talk about his future at Arsenal?

Mesut Özil garners attention wherever he goes. The focus is sharper on him than other players right across the globe because of the very fact that he has enjoyed so much success over the course of his career. From opinion pieces in the New York Times, not a newspaper that is very often associated with European soccer, to daily coverage in the German press, interest in Özil has surrounded the player since his senior professional career began at Schalke 04 in the 2006-07 season. A truly worldwide star of the game, the fascination with the German player is not merely due to his footballing abilities. It comes down to an interest in his character and – for some – what he appears to represent. What is it that makes Mesut Özil stand out from other footballers, even those who have – like him – enjoyed plenty of success on the pitch?

Mesut Özil’s Playing Style

One of the great things about watching Özil play is that he expresses himself on the pitch in a way that few other players do, even if they had the technical skills needed. Yes, those who are fascinated by the statistics that they can use to work out the best bets to place on him will be more interested in hard facts like when he recorded the second most assists in the Premier League season of 2014-15 at 19. However, gathering footballing data for sports betting at online casino websites does not really give a true picture of Özil’s style. A mercurial player, he fails to fit into distinct categories – touches, assists, goals – when he is on the pitch. So much of what he does, especially when he is on the ball, defies such a tight view of what football is all about. In fact, watching him is often like observing a great soloist rather than a fully orchestrated individual. Perhaps he looks like he is improvising on the ball because he so often is? Although this quality makes him hard to defend against because you will never know what he will do next, such abilities can also cause coaches frustration no matter how much positivity he brings to a side.

Özil has received five German Player of the Year awards, a record number. No one could argue that he is not a team player. Nevertheless, his playing style is not always suited to teams which are trying to play in a fully structured manner. On the other hand, no player with 92 international caps to his name is incapable of adapting his style to meet the on-pitch requirements of his side at any given time. The question for many is whether Özil feels that he needs to meet a coach’s expectation of him now he’s in his thirties. After all, few managers in European football can point to a playing record that is as distinguished as Mesut Özil’s.

Representing the national team
Source: Wikipedia

The Personal and Cultural Factors

When interviewed by the British press about Özil, the Arsenal manager, Unai Emery, said that his highest-paid player had a personal life that was his own. However, Emery interestingly revealed that his star man – who had not been picked in the starting eleven for the Premiership club for a while – was planning to get married. Emery mentioned that Özil had told him of his plans to marry in the summer. Although this personal gem of information may not be of any significance to Özil as a player, the fact is that a new personal life at the end of the season may also mark a new professional beginning. Certainly, some Arsenal fans have speculated as much.

Secondly, Özil has faced some criticism – not least from the German Football Association – for being pictured with the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the past. A man of Turkish descent, it is perhaps not surprising that Özil might have chosen to meet the president. In Germany, it led to accusations of racism being levelled by the footballer against the German Football Association’s president, Reinhard Grindel. Consequently, Özil retired from international football. The player’s cultural origins are undoubtedly part of his identity as a man. What is noteworthy is the fact that Özil is not prepared to sideline issues that arise from them. Indeed, he is outspoken and not afraid to express his opinions. Perhaps this, too, has led to tensions between manager and player? After all, most coaches find it harder to manage articulate players who express themselves clearly.

Özil’s Recent Career at Arsenal

Given the tensions that followed his departure in the international set-up, many thought that Özil would put all of his energies into his club side. Given Arsenal’s rather poor form of recent times, some fans have questioned his commitment to the club. However, the future may not be as dark as some who follow the player’s career at the club suspect. Emery has said that Özil will feature in his starting sides again soon. He’s been keen to stress that Özil’s absence from his usual spot was down to injury concerns and not from any player-manager conflict. One thing is for sure – whether at Arsenal or elsewhere – people will continue to marvel at the playing career of Mesut Özil.