The Germany vs Netherlands football match, counts as one of the most bitter football rivalries that exist between nations. Both nations are separated by a border line, and speak languages that are similar to each other. It was not until the break of the Second World War that a rivalry accrued though.
Germany occupied the Netherlands during the war under Adolf Hitler’s rule. Thousands of Dutchmen and women were displaced and many more were murdered as Hitler looked to expand his power. Wim Van Hanegem had this to say after one match up in which the Oranje won: ‘I didn’t give a damn about the score. 1–0 was enough, as long as we could humiliate them. I hate them. They murdered my family: my father, my sister, two of my brothers. Each time I faced Germany I was angst-filled.’
The 1974 World Cup final was the first match that brought the conflict onto the football field. A Johan Cruyff-inspired Dutch team faced off against Franz Beckenbauer and his German teammates. The Dutch would score first in the encounter, but would eventually lose 2-1 after the final whistle.
This defeat left a bitter taste in the Netherlands, as more than anything, losing to the Germans was more painful than losing the football match itself. It was not until the 1988 European Cup that the pressure for the Netherlands national team to succeed somewhat relaxed. This was after they had beaten the Germans in the semi-final, in a tournament that the latter had hosted.
The victory for the neighbours was ever so sweet: with the champions receiving an overwhelming response when returning home with the trophy, after defeating the Soviet Union in the final. After the 1988 European Cup win, the negative semantics from the Dutch side due to the war somewhat dwindled. However, from the German side; which was more prone to keeping quiet on the rivalry, somewhat increased.
During the 1990s the rivalry continued on a competitive basis, but the aggressiveness of the encounters on the players and the fans’ part lessened. Their first encounter took place in 1910 with the Dutch wining the match 4-2. Their most recent came in 2012 which the Germans won 2-1.
To date, they have met 49 times, with the Germans leading with 17 wins, 16 defeats and 16 draws. No match between the two has ever taken place on Dutch soil. The largest victory is a 7-0 win by the Germans and the highest scoring match ended in a 5-5 draw.
Both Ruud Krol, for the Dutch, and Lothar Matthaus, for the Germans, share the most number of appearances in the encounter with eight, while Jan Thomee is the leading goal scorer with five strikes. This rivalry is credited for giving birth to the player rivalry between Cruyff and Beckenbauer. Both players turned out for their nations during the 1974 World Cup.
Both were captains for their nations and instrumental in their roles. Cruyff was considered a mastermind in his attacking position and is credited for being the heartbeat of the ‘Total Football’ system that the Dutch displayed at that tournament. Beckenbuar is credited for owning the sweeper role in defence and marshalling the defence without much trouble.
He was also known for chipping in with goals when the need occurred. Usually his goals or influence would bring the Germans back into the game when the chips where down.