CHAMPIONSHIP COUNTDOWN: No 4 Germany; Vogts is a favourite at last

If you wanted an international side to play for your life you would think carefully about the Dutch, then choose the Germans. They are the time and motion man's dream team, maximising while others disappoint. They qualify for every major tournament and usually reach or get close to the final.

Their preparation for Euro 96 is typical. In all probability they will have only one chance of playing under the Twin Towers, in the final, but they have still laid a pitch of Wembley dimensions and turf in the grounds of their Cheshire hotel. You suspect it will not be in vain.

After the relative failure of the last World Cup, when they were beaten in the quarter- finals by Bulgaria, the Germans have staged a typically robust comeback, winning eight of their 10 qualifying matches. They have since also defeated fellow finalists Portugal and the Netherlands away from home in friendlies.

Even the coach, Berti Vogts ("if I walked on water my accusers would say it's because I can't swim"), has shaken off his critics and, after the final qualifying game against the Bulgarians, was afforded a standing ovation from 75,000 fans in Berlin's Olympic stadium. If Vogts, who has had more calls for his resignation than John Major, is popular, then the rest of Europe must look out.

"I feel confident this German team can win the European Championship," Franz Beckenbauer, one of four of Vogts' immediate predecessors who have won either world or European titles, said. "The form they showed against the Bulgarians proved it."

Not that Vogts is entirely without selection problems, which have centred on his strikers. Tottenham's former talisman, Jurgen Klinsmann, once he has served a one-match suspension, is a certainty after scoring nine goals in the qualifying games but finding a partner has proved more of a problem.

Karlheinz Riedle and Heiko Herrlich have not fully recovered from injury while Fredi Bobic has a suspect knee, Ulf Kirsten has lost form and Stefan Kuntz has looked a lesser player since moving to Besikstas in Turkey. In desperation, Vogts turned to the neglected talent of Oliver Bierhoff.

Never fully appreciated in the Bundesliga, Bierhoff has prospered since moving to Italy's Udinese via Salzburg and is the only German left in Serie A. First capped against the Portuguese in February, he scored both goals in a friendly against the European Championship holders, Denmark, and seems to have cemented a place.

Vogts' other dilemma is the position of sweeper, which would normally be in the possession of Lothar Matthaus, the World Cup winning captain in 1990. A ruptured Achilles tendon cost him his place in the national team, which was not regained despite some storming performances as leader and sweeper of the Uefa Cup winners, Bayern Munich.

In his place has come Matthias Sammer, the first East German to play for the unified national team in 1990 and now, Klinsmann and Thomas Hassler not withstanding, possibly the most influential member of it.

Player to watch

Matthias Sammer

(Borussia Dortmund)

Wales pinpointed Sammer as a potential weakness, his eagerness to push forward sometimes leaving gaps. Instead, he dominated their qualifier in Cardiff, firing more shots at Neville Southall in 90 minutes than an English sweeper would contemplate in a career. A player, as the advert goes, for those who prefer silk.



Andreas Kopke Eintracht Frankfurt

Oliver Kahn Bayern Munich

Oliver Reck Werder Bremen


Markus Babbel Bayern Munich

Thomas Helmer Bayern Munich

Jurgen Kohler Borussia Dortmund

Stefan Reuter Borussia Dortmund

Matthias Sammer Borussia Dortmund

Rene Schneider Hansa Rostock


Mario Basler Werder Bremen

Marco Bode Werder Bremen

Dieter Eilts Werder Bremen

Steffen Freund Borussia Dortmund

Thomas Hassler Karlsruhe

Andreas Moller Borussia Dortmund

Mehmet Scholl Bayern Munich

Thomas Strunz Bayern Munich

Christian Ziege Bayern Munich


Oliver Bierhoff Udinese

Fredi Bobic VfB Stuttgart

Jurgen Klinsmann Bayern Munich

Stefan Kuntz Besiktas

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: £20000 - £25000 per annum + c...

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a number ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Sales Consultant - OTE £45,000

£15000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you want to work for an exci...

Day In a Page

Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food