While Germany's tennis legend Boris Becker described Wimbledon as his 'living room', the Nationalmannschaft have a similar relationship with the venue for their 2006 FIFA World Cup semi-final against Italy.
Germany's record in the Westphalian city of Dortmund could hardly be any better. Since 1935, they have played 14 internationals there, and the only team to deny them victory was the Wales side that drew 1-1 there in 1977. Otherwise, it has been victories all the way, and indeed goals galore. Malta were trounced 8-0 in a UEFA European Championship qualifier in 1976, and Albania suffered an identical fate in a FIFA World Cup qualifier in 1981. Germany's goal difference after their 14 matches in Dortmund is an incredible +52, with 59 goals for and a mere 7 against.
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Small wonder, therefore, that the team are riding to Dortmund on the crest of a wave, with both players and fans brimming with optimism and confidence. "The atmosphere can't be beaten. It's like a volcano, bubbling up, and hopefully it's going to erupt," grinned coach Jürgen Klinsmann in anticipation of the match, which will be Italy's first and only taste of the Westfalenstadion at this FIFA World Cup.
Defender Christoph Metzelder plies his trade with Borussia Dortmund and knows the ground like the back of his hand. Perhaps it is this fact that makes him even more confident than his coach when he says: "The match and the atmosphere will be the best that Germany has ever seen. Being able to come back and play again in Dortmund was all the motivation we needed."
Germany played a group match in Dortmund, against Poland on 14 June , and the fans were right behind the team every minute of the way, as the hosts struggled before finally making the breakthrough in injury time, when substitute Oliver Neuville gave them an all-important 1-0 win and set them on the road to the second round.
Despite playing his club football with Werder Bremen, midfielder Tim Borowski is equally as excited about Germany's semi-final venue. "The fans in Dortmund are phenomenal. It's going to be such an advantage for the team to have support like that."