Germany–Netherlands football rivalry

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German-Dutch rivalry.jpg
Two German fans wave their flag at a group of Dutch supporters during UEFA Euro 2008 in Basel.
Other names Germany v Netherlands
Locale Europe (UEFA)
Teams  Germany
First meeting April 24, 1910
Netherlands 4–2 Germany (Arnhem, Netherlands)
Latest meeting June 13, 2012
Netherlander 1–2 Germany (Kharkiv, Ukraine)
Most player appearances Germany Lothar Matthäus (8)
Netherlands Ruud Krol (8)
Top scorer Netherlands Jan Thomée (5)
All-time record

Number of meetings[a]
49 games

Total victories[b]
Germany 17–16 Netherlands
Largest victory West Germany 7–0 Netherlands
(Cologne, West Germany; 21 October 1959)
Largest goal scoring Netherlands 5–5 Germany
(Zwolle, Netherlands; 24 March 1912)
Longest streak
Longest unbeaten streak

The GermanyNetherlands football rivalry is one of the few longstanding football rivalries at a national level. Beginning in 1974 when the Dutch lost the 1974 FIFA World Cup to West Germany in the final (though deeply rooted in Dutch anti-German sentiment due to the German occupation of the Netherlands during World War II) the rivalry between the two nations has become one of the best known international football rivalries in the world.[1]

Both football nations are Top 3 in the Strongest football nations by Elo Ratings,[citation needed] and have met a total of 49 times (of which 9 matches were competitive) which resulted in 17 victories for Germany, 16 draws and 16 victories for the Netherlands.



For the Dutch, the origins of the rivalry are primarily based on the anti-German sentiment resulting from World War II in which, during a five-year German occupation, a quarter of a million Dutch people died and the country itself was devastated. In particular, matches up until 1988 show a strong emotional connection between war experiences alongside the sportive element among the Dutch, but this inevitably lessened with the passage of time.

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.[2]

— Wim van Hanegem (b. 1944), Dutch midfielder

When Germany and the Netherlands met in the final of the 1974 FIFA World Cup (which was also their first competitive match since 1945) the Dutch, despite being strong favorites, lost to the Germans which resulted in a national trauma which is poetically referred to as "De moeder aller nederlagen" ("The mother of all defeats") in Dutch.

The loss of the 1974 final was a source of great bitterness among the Dutch and it would not be until 1988 (when the Dutch beat the Germans in their own country and went on to become the new European Champions) that the public pressure on the Dutch team to be successful relaxed somewhat. The two competitive matches which would take place before the latter were notoriously aggressive, and created a lot of pressure on both sides. The 1980 match would see Toni Schumacher and Huub Stevens fighting on field, whereas René van de Kerkhof would go on to punch Bernd Schuster in the eye.

The pressure was tremendous. The popular press was blowing up the old rivalry. We knew that on the pitch the Dutch were ready and waiting for us. We had to stay focused. I think it's a true shame and pity that they regard football (sic) as an outlet for their hatred from the Second World War.[3]

— Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (b. 1955), German striker on the 1978 FIFA World Cup match

Before the game we knew that it was going to be tense. We had sworn to win, because that victory was so important to our sense of pride. To them, beating us is the best thing there is. They hate us so much more than we hate them.[3]

— Karl-Heinz Förster (b. 1958), German midfielder on the UEFA Euro 1980 match

During the semifinal of the UEFA Euro 1988, the Dutch defeated Germany (the host country) 2–1 with a goal by Marco van Basten in the very last minute of the game. After the game Ronald Koeman of the Dutch national team pretended to wipe his backside with Olaf Thon's jersey, creating outrage in Germany.

The Dutch proceeded to win the final against the Soviet Union. When the team returned to the Netherlands and were celebrated in the capital Amsterdam, headcoach Rinus Michels stood in front of the Dutch Royal Palace and said to the crowd: "We won the tournament, but we all know that the semi-final was the real final".

The Netherlands exploded into a mass celebration. As the Dutch team returned home they were paraded through the canals of Amsterdam as people jumped in the water and swam towards the players to congratulate them.

I had been waiting for that moment for fourteen years. Before the game I remembered my feelings watching TV as a teenager, and that boosted up my anger. I am happy to have been able to give this gift to the older generation, the ones that lived through the War.[3]

— Hans van Breukelen (b. 1956), Dutch goalkeeper on the UEFA Euro 1988 match

We gave joy to the older generation. I saw their emotions, their tears.[3]

— Ruud Gullit (b. 1962), Dutch striker on the UEFA Euro 1988 match

Following the 1988 match, anti-German sentiment became much less prominent among the Dutch, as defeating the Germans and going on to win the cup, in Germany itself, was to many the closest they would ever come to repaying Germany. It also marked a new phase in the rivalry because with the war-related sentiment lessened on the Dutch side, the Germans now as a consequence also became far more vocal about the football rivalry, which they had avoided previously. The rivalry continued, but the tone (though still highly competitive) became less aggressive.[4]


In 1990 both teams met again during the second round of the World Cup. This match is seen as the main catalyst for the modern German-Dutch rivalry, in which both Germany and the Netherlands enthusiastically participate. Both teams also met in the qualification round for this World Cup: 0–0 in Germany and 1–1 in The Netherlands.

Before kick-off the Dutch supporters shouted down the Deutschlandlied with boos and the Germans replied by chanting "Deutschland! Deutschland!" during the playing of Het Wilhelmus. The game that followed was notable for its many fouls and other incidents. After Rudi Völler had been hacked down by Frank Rijkaard, who was subsequently booked, Rijkaard spat in Völler's hair. After the following free kick, Völler and the Dutch keeper Van Breukelen had contact, both trying to get the ball, and Van Breukelen and Rijkaard shouted at Völler and Rijkaard pulled Völler's hair. The referee sent both Rijkaard and Völler off, and Rijkaard spat in Völler's hair a second time when both players left the pitch. Germany won the match 2–1 and went on to win the tournament and become World Champions.[5]

In 1992 the Dutch beat Germany 3–1 during the group stage of the 1992 European Championship. However, both teams progress to the semi-finals and Germany eventually lost the final against Denmark.

The next competitive match between the two nations, both teams' first one during the group stages of the 2004 European Championship in Portugal, ended in a 1–1 draw. In hindsight, after all group matches were played, this result turned out to be enough to send the Dutch on to the next round, with the German team being eliminated.

Another competitive match was planned, when the Netherlands and Germany were meeting in the group stages of UEFA Euro 2012. The Group B game assumed greater significance after the results of the first tranche of group matches, since they made it possible that a German win could eliminate the Dutch from progression in the tournament, depending on the result of the other subsequent group game (between Denmark and Portugal); the game ended in a 2–1 victory to Germany, putting the Netherlands' progression from the group stage into significant doubt.[6] The Dutch were eliminated with no points after losing to Portugal in their final match.

Overall balance and friendlies[edit]

Overall, the matches between both countries have been quite balanced in the past decades, including the latest friendlies. Since 1996 the friendly matches in The Netherlands resulted in one Dutch victory (2–1 in 2000), two draws (2–2 in 2005; 0–0 in 2012) and one defeat (0–1 in 1996). The friendly matches in Germany resulted in one Germany victory (3–0 in 2011), one draw (1–1 in 1998) and one Dutch victory (1–3 in 2002).

The teams were scheduled to play on 17 November 2015 in Hannover, but serious threats with connections to the Paris terror attacks which occurred during a Germany-France match, led German authorities to cancel the friendly. German authorities had evidence of a planned attack outside the stadium as well as in the Hannover Hauptbahnhof. The HDI-Arena was evacuated 2 hours before the match was scheduled to begin.

Competitive matches[edit]

1974 FIFA World Cup
7 July 1974 (1974-07-07)
16:00 CET (UTC+01:00)
Netherlands  1–2  West Germany
Neeskens Goal 2' (pen.) Report Breitner Goal 25' (pen.)
Müller Goal 43'
Olympiastadion, Munich
Attendance: 78,200
Referee: Jack Taylor (England)

UEFA Euro 1980
14 June 1980 (1980-06-14)
17:45 CEST (UTC+02:00)
Group stage (Group A)
West Germany  3–2  Netherlands
Allofs Goal 20'60'65' Report Rep Goal 79' (pen.)
W. van de Kerkhof Goal 85'
Stadio San Paolo, Naples
Attendance: 26,546
Referee: Robert Wurtz (France)

UEFA Euro 1988
21 June 1988 (1988-06-21)
20:15 CEST (UTC+02:00)
West Germany  1–2  Netherlands
Matthäus Goal 55' (pen.) Report R. Koeman Goal 74' (pen.)
Van Basten Goal 88'
Volksparkstadion, Hamburg
Attendance: 56,115
Referee: Ioan Igna (Romania)

1990 FIFA World Cup
24 June 1990 (1990-06-24)
21:00 CEST (UTC+02:00)
Round of 16
West Germany  2–1  Netherlands
Klinsmann Goal 51'
Brehme Goal 82'
Report R. Koeman Goal 89' (pen.)
San Siro, Milan
Attendance: 74,559
Referee: Juan Carlos Loustau (Argentina)

UEFA Euro 1992
18 June 1992 (1992-06-18)
20:15 CEST (UTC+02:00)
Group stage (Group 2)
Netherlands  3–1  Germany
Rijkaard Goal 4'
Witschge Goal 15'
Bergkamp Goal 72'
Report Klinsmann Goal 53'
Ullevi, Göteborg
Attendance: 37,725
Referee: Pierluigi Pairetto (Italy)

UEFA Euro 2004
15 June 2004 (2004-06-15)
19:45 WEST (UTC+01:00)
Group stage (Group D)
Germany  1–1  Netherlands
Frings Goal 30' Report Van Nistelrooy Goal 81'
Estádio do Dragão, Porto
Attendance: 48,197
Referee: Anders Frisk (Sweden)

UEFA Euro 2012
13 June 2012 (2012-06-13)
21:45 EEST (UTC+03:00)
Group stage (Group B)
Netherlands  1–2  Germany
Van Persie Goal 73' Report Gómez Goal 24'38'
Metalist Stadium, Kharkiv
Attendance: 37,750
Referee: Jonas Eriksson (Sweden)


Overall record[edit]

  • Total games played: 9
 Netherlands  Germany
Win 3 4
Draw 2
Loss 4 3
Goals for 15 14
Goals against 14 15


  • Series
    • The FIFA World Cup record: Germany (2–1–0) The Netherlands.
    • The UEFA European Championships record: The Netherlands (2–1–2) Germany.
    • 8 out of 9 games were played in June, 1 game was played in July.
  • Outcome
    • No match outcome (NED win/GER lose, draw, GER win/NED lose) has ever been directly repeated.
    • No match between Germany and The Netherlands has ended in a scoreless draw.
    • All games Germany has won, were won with a 1 goal difference.
    • All games The Netherlands has won, were won with either a 1 or 2 goal difference.
  • Goals
    • Both teams have scored at least one goal in every game – no team has ever been shut out.
    • No team has scored more than three goals in a single game; both teams achieved this once.
    • Germany has scored the first goal of the match, 6 out of 8 times.
    • The Netherlands has scored the last goal of the match, 7 out of 8 times.
    • In both draws, Germany has scored first.
  • Home advantage
    • No game has ever been played in the Netherlands; 2 out of 8 games were played in Germany.
  • Penalties
    • The Netherlands has scored 4 penalties out of the 13 total goals which equals 1/3.25.
    • Germany has scored 2 penalties out of the 14 total goals which equals 1/7.

In popular culture[edit]

  • Newspapers
    • After the German national team got eliminated from the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the German tabloid Bild suggested that Germans should now support the Dutch team (which they referred to as "Bundesrepublik Holland") because a number of Dutch players played for German clubs, mainly FC Bayern Munich. The article was subsequently picked up by several Dutch newspapers and was met with disdain and ridicule, De Telegraaf opening with "When lacking own talent ..." when discussing the Bild article.[7]
  • Museums
    • The Dutch Voetbal Experience museum in Roosendaal has one of its 18 permanent exhibitions dedicated to the German-Dutch football rivalry, with tours available in Dutch as well as German and English.
    • A Dutch poem on the 1974 defeat called 'De moeder aller nederlagen' can be found on the museum wall. The last line reads `Wij waren de beste, maar zij waren beter´ ('We were the best, but they were better').
  • In television
    • In the 2006 World Cup documentary Deutschland. Ein Sommermärchen, the early elimination of the Dutch team is illustrated by showing an Autobahn sign "Netherlands, exit right".
    • In an episode of the Dutch history series Andere Tijden on the 1988 European Championship, which the Dutch won, a shot can be seen of an overpass near the Dutch-German border which reads, in German, "You are now entering the country of the European Champions".
    • In a 2010 episode of Voetbal Insite, a Dutch football show, a clip is shown in which people are being interviewed on the streets and asked what they think the Dutch team should do in order to win the 2010 FIFA World Cup. After a while a (Dutch) man is shown who happily declares his "complete support" for the German national team, after which the clip stops and the presenters of the show are shown laughing uncontrollably.[8]
  • During the 1990s and 2000s a lot of adverts appeared, at first on Dutch television later also on German networks, which referenced the Dutch-German football rivalry, including:
    • A Sport Select ad, in which a Dutch couple in a caravan overtakes an elderly German woman on the German Autobahn, after which both cars start ramming each other.[9]
    • A Heineken ad, in which a mock press conference is given by a German official who presents earplugs as the 'ultimate weapon' against a string of Dutch fan noisemakers.[10]
    • A NUON ad, in which a Dutch fan accidentally spills his drink on a German fan, ruining his T-shirt. The Dutch fan then offers his own (black) shirt to the German as a compensation, which the German fan accepts. During the match the German is cheering violently, turning his shirt (being sensitive to body heat) orange.[11]
    • A Histor (Dutch paint brand) ad, in which a British 'wall whisperer' (Barrie Hall) concludes that the walls in the South African 2010 FIFA World Cup stadiums (all painted orange) are 'happy'. As he leaves it is revealed the room painted belongs to the German National Team.[12]
    • A Sportwetten (German betting site) ad, in which a German and a Dutch fan walk past each other and the German fan spits in the Dutchmans hair.[13] This was based on the notorious attack on Rudi Völler by Frank Rijkaard at the 1990 World Cup.
    • In 2000, a Dutch TV commercial, in reference to the infamous spitting incident, shows Völler and Rijkaard both wearing bathrobes, having breakfast together, suggesting the taste of butter is so good it gets the worlds most bitter rivals together. Rijkaard later declared in an interview that both he and Völler decided to be part of the commercial considering 10 years had passed since the incident and it was time to bury the hatchet.
    • A Bosch ad, in which a German couple is overtaken by a car full of Dutch fans who mock him. The German keeps up with the Dutch car, but then suddenly breaks off. The Dutch fans celebrate only to be caught in a speed trap.[14]
    • A 2006 EA Games ad for a football computer game, in which (animated) Dutch players and fans are celebrating victory, followed by a dramatic voice from the off claiming: "Holland will win the World Cup... Only you can stop them!" After that, the German team is shown scoring against the Dutch.[15]
    • Also in 2006, in the wake of the World Cup being hosted by Germany, a commercial showed Oliver Kahn and Michael Ballack decorating a dressing room for the Brazilian national team (poking fun at Germany's previous loss to Brazil in the final of the 2002 World Cup). At the end of the commercial Ballack is seen holding a bouquet of orange tulips, reminding Kahn that they have yet to prepare the dressing room of the Dutch national team.[16] The commercial added a more friendly perspective on the football rivalry between both teams.
  • A number of novelty songs have also been written, these include:
    • "Wir sind die Höllender" by De Toppers. A 2006 song, sung partly in mock German.
    • "Orange trägt nur die Müllabfuhr" by Mickie Krause. A 2008 song, the title of which means "only the garbage collector wears orange" in German, orange being the Dutch national colour. Waste collectors in the largest cities of Germany (such as Berlin,[17] Hamburg[18] and Frankfurt)[19] do typically wear fluorescent orange overalls. However the insult is largely lost in translation as in the Netherlands garbage men wear yellow. The song is based on the melody of the Song Go West.
    • "Holland" by Joint Venture. A 2002 song, about a singer who likes the Netherlands, the Dutch, and Dutch culture except when it comes to football.
    • "Ohne Holland fahr'n wir zur WM" by the German band Orange Buh. A 2002 song about the Netherlands not passing World-Cup qualification. The title means "We're driving to the World Cup without Holland".
    • "Schade, Deutschland, alles ist vorbei," meaning "Pity, Germany, it's all over," sung by Dutch fans after the Dutch team had reached the quarterfinals at the expense of the Germans at Euro 2004. Incidentally, this song is sung by the fans of other national teams – for example, by Danish fans during their 2–0 defeat of Germany in the UEFA Euro 1992 Final.
  • The two teams met prior to Euro 2012 in November 2011, for an international friendly at the Volksparkstadion, Hamburg. Germany was victorious with the final score ending 3–0. During Euro 2012 the two teams met competitively once again in Group B, the so-called "Group of Death", which features Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, and Portugal; Germany won that match 2–1.

Effects of Terrorism[edit]

A friendly match was scheduled to be played on 16 November 2015 at HDI-Arena in Hanover, Germany. Approximately 2 hours before the match, a tip of a bomb threat was reported to the German federal police from France's intelligence agency. Because of increased security concerns due to a terrorist bombing in Paris, France occurring days prior, the match was cancelled and the area evacuated.[20]

See also[edit]


  • Hesse-Lichtenberger, Ulrich (Ulrich Hesse-Lichtenberger) (2003). Tor! The Story of German Football. WSC Books. ISBN 0-9540134-5-X. 
  • Schiweck, Ingo (2006). Kicken beim Feind? – Der ganz alltägliche Friede hinter dem deutsch-niederländischen Fußballkrieg. Düsseldorf: MaveriX. ISBN 978-3-9810957-4-6. 
  • Winner, David. Brilliant Orange. 
  • Houtum, Henk van; Frank van Dam (2002). "Topophilia or Topoporno? Patriotic Place Attachment in International Football Derbies". International Social Science Review 3 (2): 231–248. 
  1. ^ 49 games, Total
    25 games, Germany – Netherlands
    15 games, West Germany – Netherlands
      9 games, East Germany – Netherlands
  2. ^ Total: Germany 17–16 Netherlands
    Germany 7–8 Netherlands
    West Germany 8–2 Netherlands
    East Germany 2–6 Netherlands
  1. ^ Andrew Jordan. "10 Best Rivalries in International Football". Bleacher Report. 
  2. ^ Willem van Hanegem, M.Verkamman, ISBN 90-71359-03-4
  3. ^ a b c d "". 
  4. ^ Schiweck, Ingo (2006). Kicken beim Feind? – Der ganz alltägliche Friede hinter dem deutsch-niederländischen Fußballkrieg. Düsseldorf: MaveriX. ISBN 978-3-9810957-4-6.
  5. ^ "Cheeseheads vs Krauts": 30 Years of Enmity,, June 14, 2004
  6. ^ Euro 2012: Mario Gomez goal gives Germany victory over Portugal, The Guardian, June 9, 2012
  7. ^ Telegraaf, July 8, 2010
  8. ^ YouTube. 
  9. ^ Germany vs. Holland. YouTube. April 22, 2006. 
  10. ^ Heineken reclame WK 2010 - Persbericht Duitsland - nederland germany holland. YouTube. June 12, 2010. 
  11. ^ wk 2010 - nuon reclame commercial YouTube. June 2, 2010.  External link in |title= (help)
  12. ^ wk 2010 - Histor reclame commercial YouTube. June 2, 2010.  External link in |title= (help)
  13. ^ Deutschland vs Holland. YouTube. January 20, 2006. 
  14. ^ Holland vs. Deutschland. YouTube. April 4, 2009. 
  15. ^ "Jung von Matt will Holland stoppen". HORIZONT. 
  16. ^ Wm Spot... Oli and Ballack!. YouTube. August 14, 2006. 
  17. ^ "Auch der Müll sah im Osten anders aus (Even the garbage in the east look different, too)" (in German). Morgenpost (Berlin). 
  18. ^ "Newsletter 2009-21". 
  19. ^ "Frankfurter Müll is am teuersten (The Frankfurt garbage is the most expensive)" (in German). Frankfurter Rundschau. 
  20. ^