Shame of Gijon: The story of Germany & Algeria's unlikely rivalry

Jupp Derwall's side's complicit 1-0 victory over Austria saw both teams progress at the expense of the North Africans back in 1982 - leaving fans and neutrals alike outraged
By Sammie Frimpong & Enis Koylu

Algeria and Germany are two of the World Cup's less likely rivals. In a history stretching back over 30 years, there is no love lost between the two nations and Monday's clash has been a long time in the making for the North Africans.

Algeria's debut in the competition in 1982 almost blossomed into an epic story. Drawn alongside Chile, West Germany and Austria, they started their campaign against the Germans, who were in bullish mood ahead of the match.

"We'll dedicate our seventh goal to our wives, and the eighth to our dogs," one player boasted. Coach Jupp Derwall joked that he would "jump on the first train back to Munich".

Algeria defender Chaabane Merzekane recalled that one of the West Germany stars claimed he would play the game with a cigar in his mouth. Their hubris would soon be punished.

Despite Karl-Heinz Rummenigge's strike, the Fennec Foxes emerged victorious to become the first African team to beat a European side at the World Cup. They lost their second game 2-0 to Austria but recovered to record a triumph over Chile.

They had four points from their three games, but their chances of emerging from the group hinged on West Germany failing to beat Austria the next day. Fate intervened.

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The Germans came out of the blocks at lightning pace, quickly taking the lead when Horst Hrubesch met a left-wing cross at the near post to guide the ball home. But after that the match assumed a slightly different tone, with both teams settling into easy possession in defence knowing that a 1-0 would see them both progress.

The universal reaction was one of outrage. By the time the full-time whistle had gone, ARD commentator Eberhard Stajek had refused to continue his work. His Austrian counterpart Robert Seeger told viewers to change the channel.

Locals in the crowd furiously protested as the two teams passed the ball around, Algerians waved money at the players, implying that it was a fix. The Spanish press went as far as dubbing it "El Anschluss" in reference to Nazi Germany’s annexation of Austria in the 1930s.

In the wake of the game Algerian officials lodged a complaint over what had come to pass in Gijon, but the two teams had not broken any rules. Fifa could do nothing. Since then, though, the final round of group stage games in both the European Championship and the World Cup have kicked off at the same time to prevent any more convenient results.

This year ended 32 years of pain for Algeria, though. Islam Slimani's goal against Russia saw them progress from the group for the first time in their history and it is perhaps fitting that they will face Germany in the last 16.

Current Algeria coach Vahid Halilhodzic reflected on the highly controversial match, admitting he doesn't have good memories of that game.

"I happened to be in Spain at the time, I was playing for a team," he said. "A very bad memory for me. I saw the victory of Germany, a lot of talented players.

"Everybody said that Germany vs Austria topped Algeria, the team got knocked out. But this is history, there are many things that can happen in football, I hope it ends in a different way for us.

"This is a wonderful championship is wonderful. Politics is everywhere, but I would like to focus about football, about the party in the stands."

Thoughts of revenge will undoubtedly be at the back of their minds and the whole affair provides a fascinating backdrop to the match. Algeria, once again, will be huge underdogs going into a game against Germany but the memories of 'the shame of Gijon' will give them unique motivation when faced with Joachim Low's side.