The entire footballing world had been looking forward in anticipation for the double header between arguably two of the very best that Europe had on offer at the time: That West Germany and the Netherlands would be pitted against each other in a four team strong qualification group had left football fans drooling at the prospect. The two countries shared a rich modern day rivalry, and only a few months prior to the first of the two clashes they had met in an incredible game in Hamburg, where the orange clad visitors had triumphed 2-1 thanks to a late van Basten decider to progress to the final of the European Championships. This defeat had left West Germany feeling hurt. It had been their tournament, and bowing out to a major rival at the penultimate hurdle had not been part of their plan.
Olympiastadion in Munich was the scene this time around. Both West Germany and the Netherlands had won their opening qualification fixtures, with 4-0 in Helsinki and 1-0 in Amsterdam the respective outcomes. Neither team could afford to let the other out of sight, as there was only one guaranteed ticket for the 1990 World Cup on offer, with the team finishing in second spot needing to collect a sound amount of points to see out competition from at least one of the two other second best teams in groups of four.
West Germany team news
The convincing victory in Finland had left Teamchef Franz Beckenbauer and his assistant Holger Osieck with belief that their squad would be favourites for the top spot. Since then, they had hosted the Soviet Union in a home friendly. There had been a poor turn-out in Düsseldorf, with only 16 000 in attendance of their 1-0 victory. Beckenbauer had been without large portions of his squad, as the Italy based players had been out of contention, along with the set of players that had gone to defend the nation’s colours in the Olympic games in Seoul, South Korea. In addition, some players had been missing through sickness and injury, so it had been a much depleted team that saw off the threat from the USSR. As it would turn out, only two of the players that had started against the Soviets would also commence the game against the Netherlands.
Needless to say, the West Germans had all their best players available to them again for this crunch fixture. Essentially, fine defender Thomas Berthold had recovered from the injury which had kept him out of the win in Finland, something which meant that Armin Görtz was no longer in demand. With Holger Fach giving a good account of himself in the demanding libero position in Helsinki, he would continue in this role against the Dutch. Fach was a novice in the libero position, as he was a holding midfielder at club team level. He had been a major player in their Olympic campaign too, and again he had been selected in the defensive midfield role. Nevertheless, he clearly had something about him which saw Beckenbauer identify him as ideal for the libero position. Around him would again be stalwarts Jürgen Kohler, possibly the most fearsome man marker in Europe at the time, and Guido Buchwald, whose role with the national team was first and foremost as a central defender, though he would frequently participate even inside the opposition’s half. Berthold and Andy Brehme were easy picks for the wing back roles.
In midfield, Beckenbauer had welcomed Borussia Dortmund starlet Andy Möller’s international debut in the match against the Soviets. He had possibly had a ‘Man of the Match’ performance in Düsseldorf, but with Olaf Thon again available for selection, Möller did not make the matchday squad on this occasion. Skipper Lothar Matthäus was without competition for the central berth, and Thon would be accompanied by West German football’s rising star Thomas Häßler for the second of the errand boy’s roles.
They were quite similair in build, and both possessed skill, industry, tenacity and a forward drive which was essential for this position. Häßler’s rise to prominence had even seen him oust his experienced Cologne team mate Pierre Littbarski for a starting role. Last time around, though, in the Finnish capital, it had been Thon on the bench, with ‘Litti’ and Häßler around Matthäus. Could it be seen as a minor gamble to play Thon ahead of Littbarski in such a vital fixture?
Up top were Rudi Völler and the busy Jürgen Klinsmann. The latter had made the second forward positions his own during the European Championships, and he had given a fine account of himself during the Olympic Games, where he had scored four times in six matches, including a hat-trick during the 4-0 quarter final win against Zambia. His forward partner in Seoul, Frank Mill, would have to make do with a spot on the bench. There Mill would be accompanied by Nürnberg goalie Andy Köpke, who had yet to make his full international debut. Experienced defender Matthias Herget, seemingly no longer a major part of Beckenbauer’s plans for the future, would be the defending option, whereas hard man Wolfgang Rolff would be able to prove an alternative should they need some defensive midfield cover off the bench.
Netherlands team news
Since the 1-0 win against Wales in Amsterdam, Netherlands boss Thijs Libregts had been robbed of the service of captain Ruud Gullit, whose 1988/89 campaign would be littered with injuries. Gullit had got the only goal in their opening qualifier, and in particular his aerial strength would be sorely missed in Munich. Another player who was absent from that match was wide midfielder Hendrie Krüzen, who was possibly not considered good enough defensively for the trip to West Germany.
Instead, Libregts had drafted in former Ajax defender Sonny Silooy, who would take over Krüzen’s place in the starting line-up. Belgium based forward John Bosman, also strong in the air, would try as best as he could to make the Dutch minimize the loss of Gullit. Apart from Gullit, the visitors were at full strength.
De Oranje were in a luxury position as far as the goalkeeper situation went. Veteran Hans van Breukelen was the prefered choice as long as he was available, and as back-up, Libregts still went with Feyenoord’s reliable ‘keeper Joop Hiele. Behind them were Ajax’ Stanley Menzo and also Theo Snelders, who had moved from Twente to Aberdeen in Scotland to try and enhance his reputation even further.
There was no change in the defensive trio since the match against the Welsh, and why would there be as long as all of Ronald Koeman, Frank Rijkaard and Adri van Tiggelen were still available. In-form Twente defender Fred Rutten, yet uncapped, was the defensive cover on the substitutes’ bench.
The Netherlands formation could be seen as 3-5-2 rather than 5-3-2, as the wide players both seemed more a part of midfield than defence. Berry van Aerle, a versatile and extremely dependable player both for club and country, would take the right sided position, whereas said Silooy would be found towards the left. Hard nail Jan Wouters was the clear pick for the central defensive position, and just ahead of him in more creative roles would be Gerald Vanenburg and Erwin Koeman. From the bench, should they need to, they would be able to call upon the services of either Aron Winter or the uncapped Rob Witschge, both representing Ajax.
Marco van Basten, arguably one of the hottest strikers in Europe at the moment, continued to be Netherlands’ number 9 also in the post Michels era, and he would be accompanied by strong Mechelen forward John Bosman this time around.
Perhaps there had been a feeling that super sub Wim Kieft had deserved a starting role, but the PSV striker would yet again take up a position among the substitutes.
42 year old Italian Pietro D’Elia, with six internationals to his name since the debut back in ’82, was the man in charge on this occasion. This was his first assignment with West Germany as one of the participants, whereas he had once officiated the Dutch: in a 1-0 defeat away to Belgium in a qualifying match ahead of the 1986 World Cup.
The most recent meeting had obviously been the famous semi-final in Hamburg four months earlier, though the most talked about encounter between these two rivals was still the 1974 World Cup final, when, on this very ground in Munich, the West Germans had triumphed 2-1 against a mighty Dutch outfit, their finest to date. Since then, they had also crossed paths in the 1980 European Championships in Italy, with the West Germans again defeating the Dutch: 3-2 on this occasion. This fixture in Munich would be their 28th meeting overall, with West Germany having won eleven to the visitors’ seven. Nine previous meetings had ended in draw.
West Germany (5-3-2)
|1 Bodo Illgner||21||Köln|
|2 Thomas Berthold||23||Verona|
|3 Andreas Brehme||27||Internazionale|
|4 Jürgen Kohler||23||Köln|
|5 Holger Fach||26||Bayer Uerdingen|
|6 Guido Buchwald||27||Stuttgart|
|7 Thomas Häßler||22||Köln|
|8 Olaf Thon||50′||22||Bayern München|
|9 Rudi Völler||28||Roma|
|10 Lothar Matthäus (c)||71′||27||Internazionale|
|11 Jürgen Klinsmann||sub 67′||24||Stuttgart|
|12 Andreas Köpke||26||Nürnberg|
|13 Matthias Herget||32||Bayer Uerdingen|
|14 Wolfgang Rolff||28||Bayer Leverkusen|
|15 Pierre Littbarski||28||Köln|
|16 Frank Mill||on 67′||30||Borussia Dortmund|
|1 Hans van Breukelen||32||PSV|
|2 Adri van Tiggelen||11′||31||Anderlecht|
|3 Sonny Silooy||38′||25||Racing Paris|
|4 Ronald Koeman (c)||25||PSV|
|5 Frank Rijkaard||63′||26||AC Milan|
|6 Jan Wouters||28||Ajax|
|7 Gerald Vanenburg||24||PSV|
|8 Berry van Aerle||sub 20′||25||PSV|
|9 Marco van Basten||23||AC Milan|
|10 John Bosman||23||Mechelen|
|11 Erwin Koeman||27||Mechelen|
|12 Aron Winter||on 20′||21||Ajax|
|13 Fred Rutten||25||Twente|
|14 Wim Kieft||25||PSV|
|15 Rob Witschge||22||Ajax|
|16 Joop Hiele||29||Feyenoord|
This was a classic West German line-up, and the formation was also well known to the international public. They featured Holger Fach in the libero role, and he would play with a certain attitude and swagger despite his limited international experience. Jürgen Kohler would take the man marking role on van Basten, whereas Guido Buchwald would again be allowed to participate inside the opposition’s half, something which he seemed to relish. At times, Buchwald more resembled a midfielder than a third central defender. Both full-backs would also be allowed to venture forward, and they both possessed fine crossing ability.
Captain Lothar Matthäus enjoyed enormously to drive forward ball at feet, and given the opportunity, he would wander deep into enemy territory; he was by far just sitting back. Around him he had two players in Thomas Häßler and Olaf Thon bent on running all evening, and who were also technically gifted. Up front, Klinsmann seemed to prefer the right side of centre, with Völler opposite.
They had scrapped their 3-4-3 from the meeting with Wales for a more traditional 3-5-2 this time around, with Berry van Aerle (right) and Sonny Silooy with clear defensive tasks against the West German wing backs. At the centre of defence was Ronald Koeman again as the spare man, with Adri van Tiggelen (v Klinsmann) and Frank Rijkaard (v Völler) in man-marking roles. They had Jan Wouters sitting in the holding midfield role, and he would rarely venture forward. Gerald Vanenburg was the more creative in the Dutch’ central midfield trio, whereas the reliable Erwin Koeman would contribute with his excellent left foot; the latter would do less running than Vanenburg.
John Bosman, in for Gullit since the defeat of Wales, seemed to be engaging Buchwald. Libregts knew that Buchwald was prone to wandering forward, and whenever he did, Bosman would do his best to keep him company. In fact, it was an identical scenery inside the West German half, where Buchwald would look to challenge Bosman’s aerial strength. Even further forward was Marco van Basten, who would rarely be allowed much space with Kohler always tight to him.
Both sets of supporters were in fine voice in the Munich autumn evening. The away contingent was sizeable, and the aura of anticipation was great as the Italian referee blew his whistle to get the game under way. The home side saw to kick-off through their forward duo of Völler and Klinsmann. Needless to say both teams knew what was at stake, so they would both be uninterested in relinquishing any initiative to the opponent. However, it was West Germany playing at home, so they would be expected to set the initial pace.
A great tactical battle
The Dutch are a fearless lot, full of confidence and belief since their summer triumph in this very country. Since their last outing, they have opted for a much more defensive outlook: the 3-4-3, at times even resembling a 3-3-4, against the Welsh has been abandoned for a much more conservative 3-5-2 formation, and physically strong players such as Silooy and Bosman have been brought into the side. They had lost the influence and leadership of the injured Gullit, but his goal apart, the Netherlands captain had far from been at his best against Wales, a bit static and unable to shake off his marker Horne. However, he possessed an extreme aerial capability, and this Libregts had sought to compensate for through the use of Bosman.
The Belgium based striker clearly had less flair about him than Gullit, but he was a disciplined, strong individual, and the manager obviously felt he was well capable of doing a tactical job. As it turned out, Bosman had been instructed to look after Buchwald, the one West German central defender most prone to wandering into the opposition’s half. Buchwald was, like Bosman, strong in the air, and they would enjoy a fine battle throughout, cancelling each other out at both ends of the pitch.
Home midfield energy
The West German midfield had run the Finns ragged in their opening fixture, and with a central trio consisting of two pint-sized players in Häßler and Thon just ahead of skipper Matthäus, they were again looking to get the upper hand on their opponent in this department. Häßler had indeed made his debut during that convincing win in Helsinki, and both him and Thon possessed many of the same qualities: Both thriving on the ball, equipped with great individual skill, and both were eager runners and would even put in sound shifts defensively. They did both seem to complement the somewhat more sedate Matthäus, from whom it was expected that he would sit at the deep end of midfield and direct traffic. The visiting central trio was far from as strong in its running, though they had an anchor man in the gritty Wouters who had the ability to strike fear in many an opponent. Wouters would try his best to keep up with whomever of Thon and Häßler who would make runs deep into Dutch territory, never shy of taking strict means of approach: With just over three minutes on the clock, the Netherlands’ number 6 scythes down Thon by the touchline in a tackle which could have seen the referee dish out an early booking. As it were, mister D’Elia would keep his cards in his pocket on this occasion. Thon did not seem duly affected, and he quickly got back onto his feet.
Man v man set-ups
There seemed to be designed battles all over the pitch. Wouters against Thon/Häßler was one; the Bosman/Buchwald combination another. Then, of course, there was Kohler again up against van Basten, who had had the last laugh when the teams had met four months earlier.
The Cologne defender was quickly developing into a man marker of the highest calibre, and van Basten would hardly relish to have him breathing down his neck for 90 minutes. At the other end of the pitch, it was much the same with van Tiggelen looking to battle it out with Klinsmann, the striker of the West German two operating to the right of centre, with Rijkaard locked in combat with Völler towards West German left sided areas. The match started like a tight frame of high quality snooker, where the opponents were terrified of making a mistake which would hand the other the initiative. Intensity levels are high; there’s little being held back in tackles on either side.
The visiting midfield composition
Vanenburg, the technically gifted PSV player, had been performing in a more forward role in the home win against Wales, but here he was back in midfield. He was to the right in their central three, and he carried a lot of tenacity in addition to his flair, and so was an ideal player in giving chase to the opposition, as he would do when he harried Matthäus into a mistake just to the left of his own penalty area with less than seven minutes of the match gone. Vanenburg’s high pressure game eventually set the left-sided central midfielder Erwin Koeman up with a shooting chance from 22 yards, but to the left of goal, he does not connect cleanly. The first effort of the evening goes well wide of the target.
In Vanenburg and E Koeman, the Dutch seem to have a fine duo to complement Wouters’ defensive strength. They are both good when in possession: Vanenburg able to take the ball past an opponent, whereas E Koeman’s biggest asset was his excellent left foot, which could pinpoint passes for team mates higher up in the pitch, or, if he were out wide, for team mates in central areas. The Netherlands would make use of both’s strengths. There would, however, be times when they would both struggle to keep up with the energy levels of the West German midfield.
Efforts on target
Still inside the opening ten minutes and with both sets of players high on adrenaline, it is Matthäus who becomes the first one to test out the opposing goalkeeper, not just once but twice within half a minute: First he takes the ball inside from a right sided position and fires a powerful left-footed effort at goal, which van Breukelen punches away, and from a similar position moments later the West German captain again drives in an effort with his left foot.
This time his low shot goes straight into the waiting grasp of the Dutch doelman. Matthäus higher in the pitch had no designated marker among the visiting players, and was so able to find range with relative ease. This the Dutch would have to address, or they would live to regret it later. You would not invite Matthäus into shooting range too often; if you did, you would eventually suffer. Shortly after, one is left with a feeling of the Dutch starting to feel the pressure, as van Tiggelen becomes the first player to have his name taken by the referee. Berthold has played a short ball inside, and when Thon cleverly lets the ball roll on to Klinsmann, the latter’s marker van Tiggelen only anticipates the Stuttgart striker’s change of pace too late, and clumsily brings him down. The referee is left with little option other than dishing out the first yellow card of the evening.
West Germany assert domination
The home side seem to gradually seize the initiative, and from the free-kick following the booking on van Tiggelen, Brehme becomes the next player to have a go at goal. However, the free-kick is a full 30 yards out, and the defensive wall has few problems in dealing with his right foot effort. It is van Aerle making the block, and perhaps did the right-sided midfielder in the Dutch 3-5-2 set-up take an unfortunate hit? He seemed to make grimace under his moustache as if the ball had hit him awkwardly. Left-back Brehme again gives his shooting boot air time when he lets fly first time from distance after connecting with Matthäus’ right wing corner kick. The captain finding Brehme 25 yards out with a 45 degrees angled flag kick was something also previously seen attempted by the West Germans. This time the effort clears the bar by a good few yards. But it is the home side in the ascendancy, and the increasingly influental Thon makes a fine run diagonally to cause some stir in the Dutch defence, where Rijkaard tries to close him down just outside the penalty area to the West German left. With Dutch legend Johan Cruijff giving name to a technical manouevre in dragging the ball back with the heel, it is one of Cruijff’s finer fellow countrymen, Rijkaard, who will succumb to the decoy as Thon simply outwits the AC Milan ace to gain several yards of space in finding a good crossing position. Thon manages to pick out Klinsmann, but the striker’s header clears the goal to the left. The Dutch seem to live a charmed life at the moment. With a quarter of an hour gone, the Netherlands need to regain their composure.
Netherlands forced into making early substitution
Probably was it right that van Aerle had taken an unfortunate hit from Brehme’s earlier free-kick, for as early as 19 minutes into the game, he has to limp off in order to be replaced by Ajax man Winter.
The Netherlands would have to make do without one of their stronger defensive players, but it was unlikely that Winter’s introduction would mean that they would be much weakened. Winter was capable of performing in several positions, and this time he would be drafted in to fill the vacancy left by van Aerle. This would prove a manageable task for the 21 year old, winning his only seventh cap. The right-sided player in the Dutch 3-5-2 set-up was instrumental in preventing the West German left-back to go forward at will. Winter would need to call on all of his discipline resources to stop Brehme from having a big say down the West German left.
Liberos to make their mark on the game?
With the first half approaching the halfway stage, it is so far little which has been seen from either libero inside the opposing half. With neither side willing to take great risks in committing lots of men forward, neither Fach in the home side or R Koeman with the visitors have yet been daring. Fach had only made his full international bow in the Finland match, and so was particularly keen on not making any mistakes which could lead to Dutch breaks. However, he did seem to gradually grow in confidence, and would take his first few steps inside the visitors’ half before the halfway point in the first half. He would play a couple of measured passes once he was across the halfway line, as if to cautiously tread the water. The much more seasoned R Koeman down the other end would have his first foray across into West German territory when the Netherlands were awarded a free-kick some 30 yards out, but he had a wasteful low effort easily cleared by the home defence. The Dutch captain would rather try to engage Rijkaard, carefully setting the ball up for his central defensive partner to his right to try and advance across the halfway line. However, also Rijkaard would have a careful approach, and on his first couple of ventures into the West German half, he had been tracked back by Völler, who had felled him on the first occasion. The pair would have a few arguments during the game.
Fach’s confidence sees him test van Breukelen
The pressure is still applied by the home side, although they have yet to create any clear cut openings. They enjoy large spells of possession, and their midfield seems livelier than that of the visitors. In fact, the Netherlands need Vanenburg, the most creative player in their midfield three, to assist Wouters in chasing Häßler and Thon, and this hampers their ability to be constructive. On 24 minutes it is Völler who drives into the penalty area to the right, but his low effort is blocked by Wouters, and on 27 minutes it is Fach who comes closest to breaking the deadlock so far when he decides to enter the penalty area after he had first carried the ball into the Dutch half and fed Völler on the left. Klinsmann softly flicked on his forward partner’s cross, and Fach had snuck in behind R Koeman’s back to connect with his right foot only five yards out. To van Breukelen’s fortune, the home libero was unable to angle his effort, which went straight at the ‘keeper.
Were we close to a breakthrough by now? There were promising signs for the home team, who had held the upper hand for the best part of the opening half hour. And Fach’s confidence only seemed to grow as he brought his confidence with him from club level and into the national team. He played with swagger, and so far his contributions had only been of a positive character, by now even outweighing the normally so attack-minded Buchwald inside opposition territory. Bosman’s job on Buchwald seemed to be one of few Dutch success stories so far, which told its tale of their absent forward threat.
Netherlands on the counter
The game is tight. Yes, West Germany have so far outrun the Netherlands, predominantly through their extremely agile and mobile midfielders, and through this the hosts have created a few openings, even if van Breukelen had only really been threatened through Fach’s effort. Matthäus’ two early shots had been relatively straight forward business for the goalkeeper. On 38 minutes, the Netherlands’ left-sided player Silooy sees yellow for a nasty challenge on Häßler. The latter tries to storm forward along the right, and Silooy’s tackle is both high and very late, and the booking was unquestionable. They are victims to such challenges both Häßler and Thon, due to their quick and nimble feet. Shortly after, the Dutch will provide their first counter-attacking threat so far, when Vanenburg releases van Basten down the right. The cross into the middle finds its way to an unmarked E Koeman to the left inside the area, and connecting with the ball as it bounces up, he proceeds to fire a few yards over Illgner’s goal frame. The older Koeman brother had rushed his effort; he could have taken more time to aim and ought to have hit the target. It had been their biggest threat yet, and not surprisingly Vanenburg had been the orchestrator, for once with space and time in midfield.
Late opportunities for the home side
Matthäus had been the more anonymous in the home side’s midfield, but he would be the next to make a run in behind the visitors’ defence. The Netherlands’ backline had been somewhat unaware when Kohler, to most people’s surprise, had decided to leave van Basten be and take a pass from Brehme inside the Dutch half. With no one closing him down, the defender chipped a delicate pass into the path of the home captain which just cleared the head of Winter. The visitors’ right-sided midfielder had been caught slightly out of position, something which almost cost the Netherlands dear as Matthäus proceeded into the area. However, the midfield ace had to rush his shot as Rijkaard was coming in to block his path to goal, and Matthäus poked the ball with the tip of his right foot.
He tried to find the bottom far corner, but the ball ended up a yard wide of the upright with Völler throwing himself forward, yet unable to get a touch. Great initiative by Kohler, whose pass had been measured with great precision into the path of his captain. This was a big warning to the Dutch that they should not forget about Matthäus. Less than a minute later it is Thon who wriggles free from R Koeman, cutting in from the left just outside the area. Thon attempts a shot, but it goes high and wide from a decent position. The home side had threatened the visitors’ goal on a great number of occasions by now.
End of an exciting half
The Netherlands had enjoyed slightly more possession towards the end of the half, but it was like the West Germans had lured them out of their half in order to try and get in behind them, like had been the case with Matthäus just before half time. Häßler, who never stopped running all night, made a fine tackle almost down by his own left corner flag to prevent Rijkaard from progressing. The young Cologne midfielder really put an impressive performance in, and as the Italian referee blew his whistle for half time, much of the pause talk among the nearly 70 000 spectators would surely concentrate around the West German midfield duo in front of captain Matthäus. Both Thon and Häßler had been excellent. Yet, the visitors could enter the dressing rooms with the score at 0-0.
Perhaps had the first half not brought any goals, but it sure had brought a lot of excitement, and the home side had been on top for large spells, their midfield dynamism at times too much to cope with for the visitors. Wouters had been seen in close proximity to Thon on a number of occasions, but with the equally lively Häßler also present, there was no way he could cope with them both on his own. E Koeman was no great chaser of the ball, so a lot of defensive labour fell into the hands, or feet, of Vanenburg, supposedly their creative midfield outlet. Should Libregts have addressed the home side’s superiority in the midfield department at half time? Could Rijkaard have been moved further afield to play in midfield rather than waste his talent as Völler’s man marker, a job which surely could’ve been done as prolifically by another player? As it were, no changes in personnel had been made during the break, and referee D’Elia would let van Basten and Bosman kick the second half into motion.
Visitors first out of the blocks
One could be forgiven for thinking that the second period would see a sluggish start after the relentless pace into which the first 45 had been wrapped, though the all-action impression would continue no end almost immediately from kick-off. The Dutch sought to bring stability back into their play having at times been run ragged, and they were aiming to keep the ball in the side early on, trying to let the ball do the work and to have the West Germans running inbetween. It is like they wish to make a statement: “Hey, we’re the European champions, for crying out loud! We can deal with this.” This will culminate two minutes into the final 45, when Silooy makes a delicate step-over to advance past Klinsmann inside his own area and play a ball in field for van Basten, which R Koeman will eventually guide onwards for Vanenburg to pick up inside the centre circle.
With no opposing player trying to close him down, Vanenburg can for once use one of his assets: He carries the ball 40 yards, and only faces a half-hearted challenge from the home libero, who does not seem too comfortable when forced to perform an act of defending. Vanenburg has little trouble in wriggling past Fach, and the midfielder elects to shoot from 25 yards, forcing a save low down from Illgner just inside the upright, the West German ‘keeper’s first of the game. This is more like it from the visitors. But were these the defensive credentials that Fach carried? Surely, he had let himself be advanced past way too easily, although, 30 yards from goal, there had not seemed to be imminent danger.
Rapid response from the hosts
The home side will soon make a reply, as if to let the visitors know they will not have it their way at all. Völler takes a quick throw from the left, and Thon through some fancy footwork had been able to gain a few yards on the unsuspecting Wouters, something which enabled the home midfield schemer to let the ball bounce before he swivelled and hit a right foot half volley straight onto van Breukelen’s crossbar.
The goalkeeper was well beaten. The ball rebounded back into play, but the visitors regained control. What a moment from one of the game’s pace setters! This will have brought a certain level of adrenaline into Thon’s mindset, and shortly after he will become the first home player to be booked as he catches R Koeman’s calf with a vicious kick when trying to steal the ball from the Dutch libero. Ronald Koeman’s far from fazed, and just gets on with things after some quick treatment by the Dutch medical team.
Bosman introduces himself
Surely, something would have to give sooner rather than later. It was perhaps not due to the sheer amount of clear cut opportunities created which gave the match the impression of being a heavy weight clash; more the fact that these two were going at each other with a calculated and measured approach, and equal levels of mutual respect, yet at incessant speed. It was high octane football at its very best. And next up will be the so far anonymous Bosman, who will connect with a header after another cross by E Koeman from the left hand channel. It had been Silooy, who had made a fine start to the half, who had set the Mechelen based player up for the delievery, and his new team mate at club level had snuck in behind the back of his companion Buchwald. Those two were never far apart, but on this occasion Buchwald had been caught ball watching. However, Bosman’s diagonal header into the ground goes well wide of Illgner’s upright.
Perhaps were the West Germany bosses feeling a bit disappointed with the efforts from their forwards, as neither Völler nor Klinsmann had managed to shake themselves free from Rijkaard or van Tiggelen respectively, for Mill was seen warming up on the sidelines at the start of the second half. Yet few would pay attention to the substitute as it was impossible to even blink: If you took your eyes off the match even for a few seconds you were likely to miss vital bits of action. Such as Matthäus’ fine, deep run into the left hand channel, where Winter gave up tracking him back and instead decided to let Rijkaard pull out to try and dent the home skipper’s path towards goal. Unlike the late first half involvement when Matthäus had toe poked the ball just wide, he was in no position to make inroads on goal, and he crossed into the area for Völler, who was off balance and unable to control. However, Silooy made a meal of trying to clear the ball, which only went as far as left-back Brehme, who struck a firm right-foot shot which went just over the bar. The second half was still only nine minutes old, and there had already been a number of opportunities at both ends.
Not a lot of Berthold
With so much quality packed into the centre of the park, neither team were looking to utilize the wide areas in particular as a means of attack. With both teams operating according to fairly similar formations, there were a total of four wide players on display, all of whom were excellent individuals. The home pairing of Berthold and Brehme, both of whom were based in Serie A, the leading European league at the time, were not unwilling to participate across the halfway line, but their opposing pair of Winter and Silooy clearly carried instructions which sought to nullify any threat from the home wide areas. This very Dutch pair was disciplined, and though Brehme had got into a couple of crossing positions during the first half, Berthold’s contribution inside the Dutch half had been sparse.
The Verona man would be defending against E Koeman’s left foot, and so far he was putting on a sound performance inside his own half, just like you’d be expecting from a player of his stature. Thomas Berthold was, not without reason, considered one of the finest right-sided defenders of the game, even if so far he had reserved his best for disciplined work inside his own half. When E Koeman had swung the cross from the left from which Bosman headed diagonally wide, Berthold had been busy confronting Silooy, and so it had been Thon rather than Berthold who should’ve closed E Koeman down on that occasion.
Tame van Basten
If Völler and Klinsmann had been unable to show any great threat levels in front of the visitors’ goal, the same could be said for van Basten down the other end. The player who had scored five times during the European Championship was being monitored very closely by man marker Kohler, who so far had had the upper hand. The van Basten/Bosman tandem was not working as such, as the latter of the two always had to focus on Buchwald, stopping the wily West German central defender from making wanted progress. van Basten had during the first hour of the game hardly been seen doing anything else than trying to shield the ball, though he had played his part in the late first half counter attack from which E Koeman had fired over. He had not been at his most prolific against Wales in the qualification opener, and his performance still left a bit to be desired here, though he could be excused as long as Kohler was sitting so firmly on him.
Tackles were at times flying in, and van Tiggelen, the Dutch defender designated with the task of Klinsmann, was probably fortunate to remain on the pitch when he went heavily and clumsily into a challenge a few yards inside the Netherlands’ half. He sent the Stuttgart striker flying, and having done similarly and been cautioned during the first half, he knew he had to thread carefully. However, the Italian referee did not even proceed to have a word with the seasoned defender. Perhaps it was just after all, as Häßler only a few minutes earlier had scythed down Bosman 30 yards away from Illgner’s goal without being booked. Häßler, who had been a dominant force during the first half, had so far after the break struggled to recreate the same level of performance, and was hardly known for his ill tackling, but on this occasion he had sent the opponent flying. When a third bad foul inside five minutes happened, Rijkaard was not so lucky: D’Elia produced the fourt yellow card of the afternoon after the defender had hacked Völler down rather unnecessarily inside his own half. The two had been close to each other all night, and Völler had already made a couple of complaints having taken big challenges from the imposing Dutchman.
West German substitution
The early second half promise had given way to a more destructive kind of football, and this saw the West German midfield duo of Häßler and Thon influence the game less. Battle was what the Dutch wanted, as they knew they were far from intimidated by the hosts in this respect. And as the home side had greater pace in their side overall than the visitors, it was quite obvious which team were the more pleased as the second half was approaching its halfway stage.
This is when Beckenbauer decides to take the relatively anonymous Klinsmann off and replace him with Mill, as the Team Chef seeks to spark life into a game which has gone a bit off the boil in the last ten minutes. Mill has an excellent goalscoring record at club level, but has yet to get off the mark in the national team jersey. What an occasion this would be to break the duck.
Game’s final booking
Matthäus becomes the fifth player to have his name taken when he tackles E Koeman inside the centre circle. However, the referee was probably too strict on this occasion, and a couple of the bookings could have been avoided, whereas other tackles again could well have been addressed. D’Elia was making a sound impression in trying to let the game flow, but his decision making when called upon was not always spot on. Matthäus had possibly caught E Koeman’s shin before he tackled the ball, but a warning was harsh even though the Dutch midfielder needed treatment. The Internazionale man tried to plead his innocence to the referee as the couple surely knew each other from Serie A, but he reluctantly accepted his fate with a wry smile. Moments later yet another hard van Tiggelen challenge sent an opponent to the ground, this time the recently arrived Mill. Was the moustached defender not aware that he had already been yellow carded? Again the referee does not even have a word with the Dutchman.
van Basten gets his chance
Half an hour into the second half, there’s an urgent lack of fluent football. There’s little niggles all across the pitch, and the referee sees need to stop the game every now and then. Häßler, who despite being less influental after the break, never stops running, and he had had an earlier effort wide to the left of van Breukelen’s goal. On the 75 minute mark, a quick short free-kick from Matthäus feeds Buchwald, who had momentarily escaped the attention of Bosman. Shots from distance were hardly Buchwald’s main strength, and somewhat off balance he fired his right foot effort well over the target from almost 30 yards. Despite retracting back into their own half and so conceding possession, the visitors seemed comfortable by now, as West Germany were no longer able to carve them open. The hapless van Basten, in the pocket of Kohler all night, takes his frustration out on Fach in a typical striker’s challenge. He sends the home libero flying, and is fortunate to escape a booking. Fach had done well in his first major international test, showing confidence on the ball, although his defending had been questioned, not least after that Vanenburg effort early in the second half.
And again eight minutes from time when he loses his concentration somewhat to allow van Basten to have a shot from inside the area after another ball in from E Koeman. Perhaps had Fach expected Kohler to keep check on van Basten, but on this occasion the ace marksman had won several yards on his adversary. Fach had been unaware, but fortunately for him and his team mates, van Basten’s effort was a poor one as his shot went both high and wide. It was the kind of opportunity which you would’ve trusted the Milan striker to at least hit the target from.
Game petering out
Since the introduction of Mill, Völler had switched sides and was predominantly up against van Tiggelen inside the final quarter of an hour. Not that it meant much as he would never test van Breukelen all afternoon. The home substitute also carried little influence, and with the game mainly a midfield battle in the latter stages, it became evident that it would take something very special for either side to break the deadlock. Defeat would spell disaster, not least for the hosts, who could ill afford to drop both points against their main, and only real, group rivals at home. The Dutch, on the other hand, seemed very pleased to see the game out and take a strong point back home. Their many supporters seemed in buoyant mood in the stands as the clock reached the 90 minute point.
The hosts won a late free-kick 25 yards out as van Basten brought Matthäus down, but the defensive wall blocked away the home captain’s low effort. Precisely two minutes into time added on, D’Elia blows his whistle one final time, and there’s a big cheer to be heard from the visitors’ section, whilst Beckenbauer can be seen quickly walking off to the dressing room displaying displeasure.
The opening half is a breathtaking spectacle, and it is the hosts taking control and putting the visitors to the sword. They control the midfield areas, where the exciting young pairing of Thon and Häßler run the Dutch ragged. The Netherlands will be on the back foot for the majority of the first half, yet there’s no clear cut opportunities created in front of van Breukelen, who can only watch as Thon fires an early second half shot from distance onto the crossbar. As the second half progresses, there’s a flurry of fouls making the match a start-stop affair, and the fluency which had been a feature of the opening 45 minutes was replaced with a number of second half free-kicks. Kohler had van Basten in his pocket throughout, but fell asleep on one occasion as the striker had an opportunity to fire at target from inside the penalty area.
His wasted effort probably summed the second half up, but the Dutch cared little as they were clearly the side more pleased with the point in this eventual stalemate. The referee had dished out a total of five bookings, although some could have been avoided, and van Tiggelen could possibly count himself lucky to remain on the pitch for 90 minutes.
1 Illgner 6.9
not often called into action, but makes a confident stop from Vanenburg’s early second half effort. Keeps his concentration throughout
2 Berthold 6.9
would have contributed more inside the attacking half were it not for Silooy. Rarely challenged defensively, but once allowed E Koeman too much space to hit a cross. Had a second half clash of heads with the same opponent
3 Brehme 7.0
sees no threat from the Dutch right hand side, and advances forward a few times, yet to limited effect. Does fire a second half attempt over
4 Kohler 7.1
keeps van Basten in check for most of the game, apart from when he goes to sleep and lets the striker have a go at goal late on. Elegantly feeds Matthäus for a late first half opportunity
5 Fach 7.1
after a quiet opening treading water, he gains in confidence after instigating and rounding off a fine first half move, with van Breukelen saving his effort from close range. Seen shouting orders for team mates in the second half, a clear sign of him feeling all the more comfortable in his role. However, somehow his involvements inside the Dutch half at times seemed a little cramped, and it does on a couple of occasions shine through that he’s not a natural defender
6 Buchwald 6.8
is up against Bosman all game; the pair hardly let each other out of sight. Comes out second best in aerial challenges, and a man of his build should certainly put himself about more
7 Häßler 7.5
his first half is of the highest order, when he dictates the midfield along with Thon. High energy levels, very strong on the ball, and even gives chase whenever the opponents were in possession. Second half performance not quite up to those standards, but another impressive performance
8 Thon 7.4
a somewhat similar performance to that of Häßler, and he is unfortunate not to score when he strikes the crossbar just after the break. At the receiving end of a couple of hard challenges, and often comes in contact with Wouters. His quick feet will usually see him prevail
9 Völler 6.6
slightly better than his forward partner, even if he is up against world class opposition in Rijkaard. Likes to challenge along the ground, but is not penetrative enough to cause the visitors trouble
10 Matthäus (c) 7.1
would sit behind his two midfield compatriots and dictate the pace. Has two fine left foot shots early, and another poked effort wide late in the first half. Sees yellow following a tackle on E Koeman
11 Klinsmann 6.5
does not pose much of a goal threat as he is being closely surveilled by van Tiggelen. Gets into a first half heading position, but there was little accuracy. Did not seem to coexist ideally with Völler on this occasion, and his withdrawal was understandable
(16 Mill –
came on midway through the second period without adding much. Struggled, like the man whom he had replaced, to get past van Tiggelen)
1 van Breukelen 7.0
appears confident, and though he’s not put to a lot of tests, he deals comfortably with what the West Germans can throw at him. A mere spectator when Thon strikes the bar early in the second half
2 van Tiggelen 7.2
a very sound game by the veteran man marker, who makes sure Klinsmann has an off day. Cooperates impeccably with the other two central defenders, and even shows his technique when on the ball on a couple of occasions. Fortunate to remain on the pitch until the final whistle after bad second half tackles on Klinsmann and Mill
3 Silooy 7.0
an effective weapon against West German attacks along the right as he silences Berthold’s forward contributions. Also composed on the ball, and does participate inside the hosts’ half on a few occasions. Deservedly booked for his nasty challenge on Häßler
4 R Koeman (c) 7.0
did not make any great strides into enemy territory, but did have a couple of long distance attempts which, however, never found the target. A cool head in defence; never stressed when in possession
5 Rijkaard 7.1
the stylish defender would often come out the stronger in the battles with Völler. Crossed the halfway line a few times, but fell for a proper ‘Cruijff trick’ from Thon in a rare defensive slip. Strong in the air as always
6 Wouters 6.7
when the home side upped the tempo in the centre of the park, Wouters struggled to live with them. A particularly nasty tackle on Thon early on which had warranted a booking. Toiled, but did not have a lot of influence on proceedings
7 Vanenburg 6.8
meant to be the creative outlet in midfield, but more often than not chasing shadows. Shows a fine initiative early in the second period, when he tests Illgner from distance having advanced past Fach. At the heart of the visitors’ set-pieces, but they’re of little threat to the home team
8 van Aerle –
forced off early with an injury, and until then sacrificing himself for the team in preventing Brehme’s forward bursts. Never recovered after attempting a right wing cross when challenged by Häßler, eventually aided off by two members of the Dutch medical staff
(12 Winter 6.8
a quiet yet relatively effective performance in preventing Brehme from having things all his way along the Dutch right hand side. No attacking threat, probably according to the manager’s instructions)
9 van Basten 6.5
a disappointment. Unable to shake himself loose from the attention of Kohler, and does even at times appear unmotivated. Woeful shot when finally in a good position ten minutes from time
10 Bosman 6.9
makes sure Buchwald has his work cut out as the two are head to head for most of the 90 minutes. Strong in the air, slow along the ground. Does not provide van Basten with much forward assistance as his role is of a deeper nature. A second half diagonal header wide
11 E Koeman 7.0
stabilizes the Dutch left midfield with his presence, and he is a fine man to take to combat. Does not shirk responsibility, and is at the heart of many a set-piece. Presented with two shooting opportunities in the first half, the latter which he could have buried. Excellent pass for van Basten’s late opportunity