Algeria seeks revenge in knockout clash against Germany

Dirty Tackle
(L-R) Algeria players Aissa Mandi, Madjid Bougherra, Saphir Taider and Nabil Ghilas celebrate at the end of their World Cup match against Russia in Curitiba on June 26, 2014 (AFP Photo/Kirill Kudryavtsev)

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On paper, the round of 16 clash between Germany and Algeria looks like a one-sided but otherwise unexceptional affair. Three-time World Cup winner Germany is amongst the favorites to lift the trophy this summer, while Algeria is a minnow emerging from the group stage for the first time. But there is history between the two nations, history that potentially means there could be more afoot than meets the eye when they meet in Porto Alegre on Monday.

Algeria and Germany have faced each other once before at this level, at the 1982 World Cup in Spain. Heading into that match, the then West Germans were European Champions and were so overconfident that manager Jupp Derwall didn’t even ask his players to watch video of the un-fancied Algerians, who pulled off a surprise upset and beat West Germany 2-1.

Algeria then lost 2-0 to Austria before beating Chile 3-2. The results paved the way for Algeria to become the first African nation to advance from the group stage, unless West Germany beat Austria 1-0.

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And surprise, surprise in an incident that’s gone down in the annals of World Cup history as the “Disgrace of Gijon,” that's exactly what happened. The Germans took an early lead before each team took its foot off the gas and cynically played out a 1-0 result. The European sides advanced. Algeria went home.

French manager Michel Hidalgo, who was in Gijon on a scouting mission, told reporters at the time that West Germany and Austria should be jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

A German television commentator calling the match told viewers “What is happening here is disgraceful and has nothing to do with football. You can say what you like, but not every end justifies the means.”

Germany's Jerome Boateng, center, warms up with teammates during a training session at the Estadio Beira-Rio Stadium in Porto Alegre, Brazil, Sunday, June {try}, 2014. Germany will play Algeria in a World Cup round of 16 soccer match on June 30. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

In the stands, fuming Algeria supporters waved handkerchiefs as white flags and flashed banknotes to indicate a fix.

[Video: Mourinho praises Algeria's spirit]

“The Algerian, Spanish and even German fans in Gijon were disgusted by what they witnessed and waved white hankies and so on to protest,” former Algerian fullback Chaabane Merzekane told the Guardian.

It's because of West Germany and Austria colluding that FIFA changed the rules, requiring that final round matches in the group stage be played simultaneously to prevent simular collusion.

Despite the fact that no player on either team had anything to do with that infamous match (most weren’t even born yet), for Merzekane and others who played on that Algerian team, Monday’s match offers a shot at some payback.

“The Germans and Austrians contrived to make sure we didn’t go through and now the present team has a chance to gain revenge,” said Lakhdar Belloumi, a former Algerian midfielder, also speaking to the Guardian.

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“We haven’t forgotten,” said Algeria’s Bosnian coach Vahid Halilhodzic to the New York Times. “We talk all the time about this match in 1982. History repeats itself 32 years later.”

On the other side, German coach Jogi Loew bristled at the notion that Algeria could have revenge on its mind.

“Why should they be seeking to punish this generation of Germany players?” said Loew, speaking to the Associated Press. “I am irritated by the use of word ‘revenge.’ But maybe this will work as motivation for Algeria.”

While Loew was quick to dismiss the notion of the revenge factor, he was also not about to repeat Derwall’s mistake by underestimating Algeria.

“Algeria is an extremely aggressive team that runs a lot and is incredibly dangerous,” said Loew, after watching a tape of Algeria’s 1-1 draw with Russia.

And despite being amongst the favorites to lift the Cup, Germany has good reason to be cautious against Algeria. Apart from the 1982 match, Germany faced Algeria one other time, at a 1964 friendly in Algeria. The Germans lost.

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