Austria vs. Germany: A Century of Rivalry pt. 1 ⋆ An Old International

Austria vs. Germany: A Century of Rivalry pt. 1

[typography font=”Alike” size=”14″ size_format=”px”]When Austria and Germany meet in their World Cup qualifier on Tuesday, both nations can look back on 100 years of football history from a very different perspective. Part 1 will look at the games 1912 and 1938. [/typography]

[typography font=”Alike” size=”24″ size_format=”px”]It began with a Controversy: 1912[/typography]

[typography font=”Alike” size=”14″ size_format=”px”]It all started with a dispute: When Austria and Germany met for the first time in 1912, it did not go well. In the group stages of the 1912 Summer Olympics, Austria beat Germany convincingly 5-1. While the result is pretty clear, the match had one major talking point and possibly ignited the Austro-German football rivalry. At 1-0 down, the German goalkeeper Albert Weber was injured. At the time substitutions were only permitted if the two team captains had made an agreement before kick-off. This did not happen. Therefore, Germany had to continue with 9 field players while Willi Worpitzky had to deputize in goal. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal. However, the Germans expected some concession to substitute their injured goalie for a fresh one. The Austrians on the other hand expected the Germans to stick to the rules and be manly enough to fight, as they are known for their obedience for rules. However, the Germans were not pleased with the strictness of the Austrians, who themselves possibly scratched their heads in surprise when confronted with the German plea. Neither team played a major role at the tournament. Austria made it to the final of the ‘consolation tournament’ while Germany lost to Hungary in the semis of the same ‘tournament within the tournament’, who went on to beat Austria 3-0. The major tournament meanwhile saw Great Britain beat Denmark in a repeat of the 1908 final 4-2.[/typography]

[typography font=”Alike” size=”24″ size_format=”px”]The ‘Anschluss’ 1938 [/typography]

[typography font=”Alike” size=”14″ size_format=”px”]Austria’s football reached a peak in the early 1930s under Hugo Meisl and thanks to the presence of Matthias Sindelar, ‘Der Papierene’. The German football magazine ‘Kicker‘ described him as the greatest footballer Austria ever had and that the fourth place at the 1934 World Cup was a disgrace for this skillful team and of course for Sindelar, the captain. By the time both teams played each other at the World Cup 1934, the Austrians had passed their peak while Germany began to develop a reasonably string team. However, the most significant match between them was to come 4 years later.[/typography]

[typography font=”Alike” size=”14″ size_format=”px”]Worse was to come for Austria as the country ceased to exist as Germany simply ‘annexed’ the country in March 1938 after the Austrian head of government Arthur Seyss-Inquart asked Hitler to take the country home into the Reich. The game to mark the ‘unity’ between the two countries was won by Austria 2-0. Sindelar made no secret how he despised the new rulers and missed clear chances by the dozen in the most spectacular manner during the first half. If anything, it was a moral demonstration; and once he scored the first goal, it was clear which team were on top. After ‘Schasti’ Sesat made it 2-0 Sindelar turned to the main stand and celebrated in front of the honorary boxes where the Germans sat. Sadly, Sindelar died in January 1939 under mysterious circumstances in Vienna beside his love Camilla Castagnola.[/typography]

[typography font=”Alike” size=”14″ size_format=”px”]At the World Cup in France, the team of Sepp Herberger did not fare well and most blame was put to the Austrians, of course. A journalist wrote that Germans and Austrians prefer to play against each other, even if they are in the same team. This says a lot. Even Herberger admitted after being beaten 4-2 by Switzerland in the re-match of their first group game, tat the Austrians have to learn a lot. For instance not to give in but to fight if they want to win a game.[/typography]

[typography font=”Alike” size=”12″ size_format=”px”]Part 2 of this short history of the Austro-German football rivalry will be published tomorrow.[/typography]

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