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Throwback Thursday: Netherlands vs Germany at Euro 1988

One of the biggest rivalries in world football continues this weekend, as for the third time in the past six months, the Netherlands will play Germany.

After edging past Germany in the UEFA Nations League last year, Netherlands will need to be wary of their rivals seeking revenge in the Euro 2020 qualifying match on Sunday. But this famous football fixture is no stranger to the seeking of revenge… in fact, it is based on it.

Back at 1974’s World Cup in West Germany, the hosts ruined what was to be the crowning moment in Dutch football, as that famous, Total Football pioneering side elegantly played it’s way through the tournament, before falling to defeat in the final to Beckenbauer and company. It has left a bitter taste in the mouth ever since and so, when the two sides met some fourteen years later at another major tournament, Euro 1988, the game needed no extra narrative.

Still chasing their first ever international honour, Germany stood in the way for the Netherlands making the final – again played in Germany like it was in ’74. Furthermore, the beaten Dutch manager, the legendary Rinus Michels, was in charge of the Oranje that summer and Beckenbauer, the captain fourteen years previous of Germany, was in the dugout of the hosts.

The parallels were uncanny, with the referee even awarding an early penalty like in ’74. Only this time, rather than the Dutch prancing into the lead, it was Germany, leaving the likes of Marco van Basten, Ronald Koeman and Ruud Gullit needing to chase the game…


It was symbolic that the Dutch would have to surpass their great rivals on what would be their finest hour in international football. Now, every time these two great football nations meet, memories of games like this flood back. A certain Dutchman wiping his backside with a German shirt, only fuelled the rivalry even more…