Russia vs Germany

Germany registered a second win in as many games to open the tournament as a late Jurgen Klinsmann brace put some gloss on the final scoreline after Matthias Sammer opened the scoring.  The final scoreline was harsh on a Russian team who had matched the Germans for long spells and provided some stubborn resistance.

The Germans again lined up in a 5-3-2, with Markus Babbel stepping in for captain Jurgen Kohler, who was injured in the opening game against the Czech Republic.  Coach Berti Vogts also rotated both his strikers from the first game, with Klinsmann returning from suspension to play alongside Oliver Bierhoff.

Russia switched to a 3-5-2 after playing a 4-4-2 system in their tournament opening 2-1 loss to Italy.  Captain Victor Onopko marshalled the back three, while Omari Tetradze and Dmitri Khokhlov featured in central midfield.  Aleksandr Mostovoi was deployed as a striker alongside Igor Kolyvanov.

It was a fast start for Germany who had two chances inside the opening five minutes.  Thomas Helmer got on the end of a Thomas Hassler long throw only to fire wide, before Dmitri Kharine saved an Andreas Moller diving header.

The Russians missed a golden chance to go ahead in the 9th minute.  Impressive midfielder Ilya Tsymbalar fired against the post, only for Kolyvanov to head the rebound directly at Andreas Kopke from five yards out.

In the opening half, Russia soaked up the German pressure well, and consistently found their front pair of Ilyvanon and Mostovoi to trouble the Germans.

Germany carried a threat of their own, again showing good ability to possess out of their 5-3-2 shape, with Matthias Sammer stepping out of central defense into a midfield position to give numerical problems for Russia in the middle third.  Right wingback Stefan Reuter was particularly impressive during the opening half, combining well in the right channel with attacking midfielder Hassler, and putting in some quality crosses.  The German focus on wide attacks served the dual purpose of creating chances, and also pinning back Russia’s dangerous left sided midfielder Tsymbalar into deep defensive positions.

Star striker Jurgen Klinsmann returned to the lineup for Germany, but was shackled well by Russian captain Victor Onopko for long spells during the game.  Onopko would receive a yellow card in the 31st minute for a foul from behind on Bierhoff, meaning he would be suspended for the final group game against Czech Republic.

The teams went into halftime scoreless, and at the break Russian coach Oleg Romantsev would sub on Valeri Karpin in place of Vladislav Radimov.  Karpin had assisted on Russia’s only goal in the defeat to Italy, and would go on to have an impressive second half in his central midfield role.

The deadlock was broken in the 56th minute with a goal that featured some clever movement by the Germans.  With the Russians proving stubborn and numbers behind the ball, both German wingbacks held wide positions and center midfielder Moller picked up the ball in a deep position.  Sweeper Sammer charged forward and found himself on the end of an excellent long range pass from Moller, having his initial shot saved before bundling home the rebound.

On the 70 minute mark, Russia would find themselves in a deep hole as central defender Yuri Kovtun was dismissed for a rash tackle through the back of German striker Bierhoff.  The red card, accompanied with the earlier yellow card for Onopko, would see Russia heading into the final group game with two of their back three suspended.

The extra man took a toll on the Russians, and German striker Klinsmann added two goals in the final 15 minutes to finish off the game.  Onopko had played well to deny Klinsmann until the 77th minute, when the Bayern striker latched onto a Bierhoff pass, knocked the ball past Yuri Nikiforov and curls a nice finish into the top corner with the outside of his right foot.

The scoring was completed in the final minute of play when Stefan Kuntz pressed to win the ball, before squaring for Klinsmann to calmly take a touch and roll home a sidefooted finish past Kharine.  As is the case with many great strikers, Klinsmann would finish a largely quiet game by taking the chances he did get and playing a major role in the end result.


The result meant Germany had all but qualified for the knockout rounds, with a maximum of 6 points, 5 goals scored and none conceded.  The 5-3-2 system was allowing Germany to possess well with both wingbacks contributing to the attach.  In addition, Berto Vogts would go into the final game against Italy selecting from four different strikers who had all registered either a goal or an assist.  One problem for Vogts would be having central defender Markus Babbel suspended for Italy game, and Jurgen Kohler still injured.

Russia were left in a deep hole, and would need to beat the Czech Republic in their final game, then also need Germany to beat Italy, just to enter a three way tiebreaker for the quarter finals.  That task would be made for difficult by captain Onopko and fellow defender Kovtun both suspended for the game.


56’ GER Matthias Sammer (Andreas Moller) 1-0

77’ GER Jurgen Klinsmann (Oliver Bierhoff) 2-0 

90’ GER Jurgen Klinsmann (Stefan Kuntz) 3-0


CD Matthias Sammer (Germany) – The German sweeper produced another outstanding two way display, defending well and also contributing massively in possession.  His run forward in the 56th minute provided the goal that opened up a stubborn Russian resistance until that point.



3:  CD Matthias Sammer – Man of the Match

2:  CF Jurgen Klinsmann – The striker showed patience and persistence throughout the game, adding two late goals to seal the three points for the Germans.

1:  CM Andreas Moller – The energetic Moller made his trademark forward runs consistently, but also dropped on to deep to collect the ball, displaying excellent long range passing to find Sammer rushing forward to open the scoring.


3:  LM Ilya Tsymbalar – The Spartak Moscow midfielder showed excellent composure on the ball and played a major part in many Russian attacks.  Tsymbalar also put in a big defensive shift, tracking the energetic runs from German right wingback Reuter.

2:  CF Aleksandr Mostovoi – Mostovoi saw a lot of the ball, particularly in the first half, and added energy and spark to the Russian attack against a high quality German backline.

1:  CD Victor Onopko – Despite blotting his copybook with two late goals when Russia were reduced to 10 men, Onopko defended well and contributed with some quality in possession also.

About the Author

Picture of Stewart Flaherty

Stewart Flaherty

Stewart is a native of Middlesbrough, England, and is a graduate of Loughborough University with a master's degree in sport psychology. Stewart has an extensive background in football, working with a variety of NCAA college soccer programs, as well as working with several leading youth clubs in the USA. Stewart is currently serving as Technical Director within a men's professional soccer club.

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