Germany–Netherlands football rivalry

The Germany–Netherlands 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 the rivalry between the two nations has become one of the best known international football rivalries in the world.
Both football nations have been among the top ranked according to the strongest football nations by Elo Ratings, and have met a total of 44 times which resulted in 16 victories for Germany, 16 draws, and 12 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.
When Germany and the Netherlands met in the final of the 1974 FIFA World Cup the Dutch, despite being strong favourites, lost to the Germans which resulted in a national trauma which is poetically referred to as "De moeder aller nederlagen" in Dutch. NOS sports commentator Herman Kuiphof's remark on air after the winning goal was scored – "We are fooled yet again" – became a catchphrase.
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 between 1974 and 1988 – in the group stages at the 1978 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 1980 – 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.
During the semi-final of UEFA Euro 1988, the Dutch defeated Germany 2–1 with a goal by Marco van Basten in the last minute. After the game Ronald Koeman of the Dutch 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 celebrated in the capital Amsterdam, Head coach 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.
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 became less aggressive.


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 rivalry, in which both Germany and the Netherlands enthusiastically participate. The teams had 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.
In 1992 the Dutch beat Germany 3–1 during the group stage of the European Championship. However, both teams progressed. The Netherlands would go on to lose the semi-finals against Denmark, who then defeated Germany in the final.
The next competitive match between the two nations came at UEFA Euro 2004 in Portugal. The result was a 1–1 draw, with the Netherlands progressing to the knockout stages and Germany failing to do so.
Their next competitive fixture was in the group stages of UEFA Euro 2012. The match assumed greater significance after the results of the first tranche of group matches were known, since it was possible that a German win could eliminate the Dutch from the tournament, depending on the result of the other subsequent game in Group B ; the game ended in a 2–1 victory to Germany, putting the Netherlands' progression from the group stage into significant doubt. The Dutch were eliminated with no points after losing to Portugal in their last match; Germany lost in the semi-finals. After a friendly in Amsterdam in November 2012, the teams would not meet again for almost six years.


The stage was set for another chapter in the rivalry during the 2018–19 and the 2019–20 seasons, as the Netherlands and Germany were drawn together in a group for both the inaugural UEFA Nations League and the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifiers. The first of the two Nations League matches, in October 2018, was won 3–0 by the Dutch despite the Germans having the upper hand. In the return match in November 2018, two late goals from Quincy Promes and Virgil van Dijk got the Netherlands a 2–2 draw, as a consequence securing the group win for the Dutch and relegation for the Germans. In the Euro 2020 fixtures in March 2019, Germany bounced back by winning 2–3 in Amsterdam through a 90th minute goal from Nico Schulz; in September 2019, the Netherlands won convincingly by 2–4 in Hamburg, the first Dutch away win since 2002.

Overall balance and friendlies

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, two draws and one defeat. The friendly matches in Germany resulted in one Germany victory, one draw and one Dutch victory.
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.

Major tournament matches


Other competitive matches


List of matches


Overall record

Includes matches involving former West Germany

In popular culture

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 the Paris attacks occurring days prior, the match was cancelled and the area evacuated.