- *Australia's football connection to Germany has a long history *
- *Australia and Germany have met three times in senior FIFA competitions *
- *The newest chapter will be written on Monday *
*By Pete Smith with Australia *
On the surface it seems Australia and Germany have little shared history ahead of the pair’s opener in the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017. In fact the opposite is true, certainly from the Socceroos’ perspective.
Germany has been a popular destination for Australian players over recent decades. Squad members Mitch Langerak (Stuttgart) and Mathew Leckie (Hertha Berlin) both ply their trade in Germany, while Robbie Kruse and Milos Degenek may also be familiar names to German football devotees. Promising striker Jamie Maclaren, meanwhile, will hope to make a splash this season at Darmstadt.
“I think the Aussie mentality is similar to the German one,” said versatile Socceroos defender Degenek, who is a likely starter for the Socceroos against the nation he called home for five years until a recent move to Japan. “It is that never say die attitude. Australian players work hard, and that has helped us get on really well in Germany.”
Degenek believes that Australia are capable of giving the world champions a tough test in Sochi, ahead of further outings against Cameroon and Chile. Not that Degenek buys into talk of a weakened Germany.
“I don’t think they have an under-strength team - most of their players played a full season in the Bundesliga, one of the top leagues in the world,” added Degenek, switching comfortably between English and German for the assembled media. “They could bring three or four teams and the strength would still be the same.”
*Rich history *
Several of Australia’s historic milestone moments are intertwined with Germany. The nation was host to the Socceroos in 1974 following Australia’s unlikely maiden qualification for the FIFA World Cup™. On that occasion, a Germany-born defender by the name of Manfred Schaefer famously lined up for the Aussies.
By a remarkable quirk, Australia’s drought-breaking return to the world stage also took place in Germany. Aside from numerous Bundesliga-based players, goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer - whose parents were both born in Germany – was prominent during the Socceroos’ historic push into the knockout stage in 2006.
The two nations also enjoy a brief but rich history in competitive matches, including a sensational seven-goal Confederations Cup thriller in 2005 where Germany triumphed by the odd goal. Sure enough, Australia were drawn alongside Germany in both 1974 and 2010, though the scorelines were not so flattering as the Socceroos suffered 3-0 and 4-0 defeats.
Australia have, however, defeated Germany on their own soil – a 2-1 victory in Monchengladbach in 2011. Even then there was a German flavour for the Socceroos, with the side coached by Holger Osieck, Franz Beckenbauer's assistant when *Die Mannschaft *became world champions in 1990.
Two years ago, meanwhile, Germany needed a late equaliser from Lukas Podolski to earn a 2-2 draw in Kaiserslautern. A similar result on Monday on the shores of the Black Sea would open up Group B at Russia 2017 for some fascinating competition.