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England vs Germany

Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy - British Council
 This article was generously provided to ClubFootball by the British Council, which operates in China as the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy.


When the England team travels to Germany for a World Cup qualifying group match in September, one of international soccer's most intense and passionate rivalries will be resumed.
Intense and passionate it certainly is, though sadly at times it can also be overtly jingoistic due to elements of supporter-behaviour such as the jeering of the opposing team's national anthem and the bellowing of war-related chants.
Those kind of excesses will almost certainly be on view when Sven Goran Eriksson's England line up against the Germans in Munich on September 1st - but not when Hope Powell's England women likewise face Germany, also in a World Cup qualifier on September 27th.
While the women's teams and their supporters have the same desire as their male counterparts to out-do each other, the venomous streak which sometimes surfaces at men's matches is never evident in the women's game.
"I think it is a men's problem," says the German women's team coach Tina Theune-Meyer when discussing the rivalry between the two nations, adding: "We like your anthem and we also like your team."
England coach Powell concurs with her adversary. Having been involved in practically all of the 11 meetings between the two women's teams, first as player then coach, she says: "It's football, not war and I think it's nonsense to relate one to the other.
"The rivalry between us is phenomenal, but in the women's game it is a nice, friendly rivalry. We are always up for matches against Germany because they are considered one of the best teams in the world and nobody expects us to win - not because of history that has nothing to do with football."
When it does come to football history, the England-Germany fixture does not make pretty reading if you are English. Germany have won all 11 games to date, the most recent at this summer's European Championships finals.
In a full but trouble-free Carl Zeiss Jena Stadium, the Germans won 3-0 en route to becoming European champions for a third successive time. Now they are preparing to entertain England once again as each team sets out on the World Cup trail.
Can England break the mould and at last avoid defeat by the old foe? Experienced striker Marieanne Spacey, who retired from international football at the end of Euro 2001, reckons so. "We've got a potentially great young team coming together now," she says, "and I really believe we can get a result over there in September."
Just to show, on the other hand, that the rivalry is not all sweetness and light, German midfielder Maren Meinert disagrees totally with Spacey. Asked if England have a chance of achieving a surprise result, she simply replies: "No. Sorry, but England have no chance." Now there's rivalry for you!


Tony Leighton, August 2001

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