England’s record against Germany and the former West Germany is: played 32, won 15, lost 13, drawn 4 (England played the former East Germany four times: won three, drew one, but this seems of little interest).
So hurrah for England then. The record shows that they’re better than Germany. Doesn’t it? Well not quite. England fans will have felt a shudder when the last 16 were confirmed. Here’s why…
The first World Cup was played in 1930. England didn’t bother to enter in those days. The first time they deigned to turn up was in 1950, when any delusions of superiority were dispelled by defeat to football minnows the USA. Meanwhile Germany were getting stronger and won the World Cup in 1954.
The first England-Germany match had been a 3-3 draw in 1930. Another seven meetings took place between then and February 1966; all England victories, but all eight fixtures were friendlies.
The World Cup final of July 1966 was actually the first competitive fixture between the two. Even non-football supporters know all about that one. At least they do in England.
German supporters don’t dwell on that defeat, although they might mention that still-controversial third English goal. Otherwise they can live with it. They have now been World Cup winners four times from eight finals, Euro winners three times from six.
In contrast, 1966 remains England’s only ever major final.
The next competitive meeting was in the 1970 World Cup quarter-final in Mexico. It was a disaster for England, who led 2-0 with 22 minutes of normal time remaining, but contrived to lose 3-2 after extra time.
It would be 12 years before England even qualified for another World Cup. The 1982 tournament produced a goalless draw, but England did little of note in the competition, while West Germany reached yet another final.
The next big meeting was the famous 1990 World Cup semi-final; Paul Gascoigne’s tears. West Germany won a penalty shoot-out following a 1-1 draw before winning the tournament.
Six years later the only difference was that Germany had reunited from East and West. The 1996 Euro semi-final at Wembley again saw a 1-1 draw, England lose on penalties then Germany win the tournament. Football “came home” but seemed to misplace its keys.
England have had their successes against Germany since 1966, but even then the fans would not be gloating for long.
The only English win at major championship finals came in Euro 2000 in Charleroi. An unusually poor Germany were beaten 1-0; but both teams were eliminated at the group stage anyway.
In 2001 England absolutely humiliated their rivals with a 5-1 walloping in Munich in a World Cup qualifier. However, 10 months later England’s players would have to settle for watching Germany on television in the final. Again.
It is now 11 years since the last competitive meeting between the two – with England thumped 4-1 in the last 16 of the World Cup in South Africa.
You have been warned. By history. So what are the chances for Tuesday?
Let’s predict an England win. Football is about nothing if not blind, completely unfounded optimism.