European Championship History - 1988 Germany
West Germany won the right to host the 1988 UEFA Euro Championship receiving five votes to defeat a joint bid from Norway, Sweden and Denmark, who gained one vote, and a bid from England who also received only one vote.
The German FA then went and started selecting the eight venues they would use for the finals: Munich's Olympiastadion, Gelsenkirchen's Parkstadion, the Volksparkstadion in Hamburg, Waldstadion (Frankfurt), Rheinstadion (Dusseldorf), Stuttgart's Neckarstadion and the Mungersdorfer Stadion in Cologne.
England had stormed through qualifying and possessed a world-class striker in 1978 and 1979 European Footballer of the Year, Kevin Keegan. The Hamburger SV ace was unable to find the target, however, and after opening with a 1-1 draw against Belgium, England’s ambitions evaporated with a 1-0 loss to Italy. Italy had kicked off with a goalless draw against Spain, and they too crashed out after being held to the same scoreline by Belgium, who were suddenly through to their first major final thanks to an impressive squad and an excellent coach in Guy Thys.
The opening game in Group A saw West Germany play Italy with neither side being able to out do the other and the score finished 1-1 with Andreas Brehme equalizing Roberto Mancini’s strike, the other two teams in Group A were Spain and Denmark with Spain claiming a 3-2 victory when the sides faced each other.
Denmark lost every single match in the group stages and failed to gain any points from it, Spain’s only points were from the victory over Denmark whilst West Germany and Italy finished on equal points with West Germany topping the group on goal difference and Italy finishing second which saw both teams through to the semi finals.
England’s qualifying campaign was more difficult then the other nations as they had to appeal for the right to compete after the Heysel Stadium Disaster in 1985 but luckily for England the UEFA Board allowed them to play.
After a successful qualifying campaign Bobby Robson’s squad looked strong going into the finals, but sadly, looks were deceiving as England failed to win a match and emulated Denmark’s sorrows. With a string of defeats coming against the Republic Of Ireland, the Netherlands and the Soviet Union, England’s campaign was over.
For the Republic Of Ireland the only points they received out of the competition were the points from the victory over England in their first match and a with the Soviet Union, which was not enough to put them through to the semi finals of the competition.
USSR topped the group after beating England and the Netherlands and drawing with the Republic of Ireland, whilst the Netherlands finished second leaving both teams to qualify for the semi finals.
West Germany vs Netherlands
The Dutch set out to get revenge after losing to West Germany in the 1974 world cup final.
West Germany were the first to score after being awarded a penalty in the 55th minute of the match and Lothar Matthaus took the spot kick to give West Germany a 1-0 lead, Netherlands managed to equalize 20 minutes after West Germanys goal with a penalty of their own. Ronald Koeman placed the penalty to make the scores even at 1-1, but Van Basten managed to get the winning goal 2 minutes before time to knock the hosts out of the competition whilst the Netherlands head for the final.
Soviet Union (USSR) vs Italy
In the second semi final the USSR played the Italians, both teams looked strong coming into the match with neither team losing a game in the group stages.
The USSR proved to be the stronger out of the two in Stuttgart, goals scored by Gennadiy Litovchenko and Oleg Protasov and Italy’s inability to get through the Soviet Unions defense helped ease the Soviets to their fourth final since the competition started in 1960.
Netherlands scored two phenomenal goals through Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten. An outstanding save from the penalty spot by Hans van Breukelen helped the Netherlands finally win the championship they had been looking for.
It was defiantly a successful tournament for the Dutch, getting revenge after their defeat to Germany in the 1974 world cup and only losing once boosted the Dutch’s confidence sky high as they went home with the UEFA Euro Championship.
Munich’s Olympic Stadium was filled with orange shirts celebrating. Coach Rinus Michels witnessed his newly built Netherlands squad play through the astonishing talents of Gullit, Frank Rijkaard and Van Basten.
A corner on 32nd minute is what broke the deadlock as Van Basten headed Erwin Koeman’s cross back to Milan team-mate Gullit to perfectly place a header past the Soviet keeper Rinat Dassayev.
Minutes after half time Netherlands claimed their second goal, Arnold Muhren’s deep cross into the USSR’s territoy was placed in the Soviet’s goal with an amazing volley by Van Basten and flew spectacularly past a stunned Dassayev from the tightest of angles.
After conceding a second goal the USSR did go straight on the attack but to no avail, after just three minutes an Igor Belanov effort wrattled the woodwork, and Van Breukelen conceded a penalty. But the keeper made amends by saving the spot kick from Belanov, and the Dutch carried on to win their first Euro championship.