Germany 1 England 2 – The Olympiastadion Berlin – Wednesday 19th November 2008
The major surprise in the team was the inclusion of Agbonlahor up front and in the early exchanges it was England who played the ball around with confidence. Whilst Germany made some interesting selections, including Rene Adler in goal for just the 2nd occasion and Hoffenheim full back Compper making his debut. However, they started with Miroslav Klose and Mario Gomez up front who had scored fifty goals at this level between them.
The first chance fell to Defoe in the second minute when he blasted wide, setting the tone for the half as England expolited the wide pitch. The opening goal came after twenty four minutes when Adler dropped a corner and Upson prodded the ball home for his first International goal. Everything seemed to be going England’s way as Carrick and Barry stopped any threat from the young German team, although it is impossible to know what would happen if Michael Ballack was in the middle of the park.
Towards the end of the first half there was a flair up in the German flags section closest to the England fans where it appeared a group of away fans had bought tickets on the black market, and the locals objected to them joining in with the theme to the Dambusters. A stand off occured for a few minutes before some beer was thrown and all hell broke lose for twenty seconds before the English bid a hasty retreat into the amrs of the German riot police and a nice banning order.
Capello brought on Scott Carson at half time, his first cap since his disasterous appearance at Wembley in the win or bust game versus Croatia almost a year to the day. He had little to do until the sixty third minute when a huge punt upfield by the substitute German keeper Wiese cleared Upson and John Terry appeared to have the ball under control and awaited Carson’s advance to collect. Both of them took their eye of the ball in all senses and allowed Helmes to nip in and push the ball past the goalkeeper and giving the Germans an undeserved equaliser. In the past the England fans would have reacted by booing Carson, but this is not Wembley with its plastic fans. Sure there was some ironic cheers the next time he handled the ball, but that was it. Terry must also take some of the blame as he had taken his eye off the German player but he responded with the type of performance a captain should put in, and with just seven minutes left he rose to head in a Downing free kick to win the game for the English.
So full marks again to Capello who had won the tactical battle against Low, and was earning more respect by the day for his team selection and tactics. We headed off out of the stadium towards the station and were impressed by the way the Germans had segregated the fans, pushing the Germans to the far end of the station platforms and boarding them alternatively, so that there was no trains full of mixed fans. Good idea in theory but in practice it failed. The stream of trains soon slowed to a trickle and we were sent from platform to platform and no one seemed aware what was going on. A train had been sitting on the platform for ten minutes when all of a sudden the doors on one carriage were pushed open and a fight broke out on the platform. Riot police arrived within seconds although they were took slow to work out who were the perpertraitors as they merged back into the crowd, setting all of us on edge as they could come and simply take us as token arrests.
Eventually we got back into the city centre and headed to the boys hotel for a couple of beers. I was screwed either way as I had to be up at 4am for my flight back, so 3 hours sleep is just as good as 2 so why not enjoy a drink.
So wind forward five hours and I am sitting in the departure lounge of Tegel airport. To my left is Alan Smith, the ex Arsenal and now well known TV pundit, and to my right is Teddy Sheringham with his latest companion. And straight ahead sat the wettest, whingiest pathetic England fan I had ever seen. He had decided not to go to the game after seeing a fight in a bar in the city centre, and watched it in his hotel room. He tried to argue his case as to why his moisturiser should not be confiscated because “it was expensive” and “it was unfair on him”. People like that make me so mad, so what odds that on a plane seating 150 guess who I am sat next to??? Fortunately God shined his light on me as he was actually due to sit in 18B and not 14F as he was next to me.
So a crazy 24 hours in Berlin was just what the doctor ordered as a break from work. We had certainly seen the best of Germany, and some of the worst although the fans were notably absent from most of the bars after the game – “Germans, Germans where for out thou’ Germans”
The Stadium – Olympiastadion (Olympischer Platz 3, Berlin 14053) – 74,550 All Seater
The stadium itself appears almost monumental from the outside – a perfect elliptical structure of finest German limestone. In fact some of the original inspiration of the design was taken from Rome’s Coliseum. The original architect, Werner March designed the stadium, with clear input from both Adolf Hitler, and his chief architect Albert Speer. It was meant to be a showpiece arena, where Hitler could show the world the power of the German state, both in terms of athletics and in edifices during the 1936 games.
After the Berlin wall fell in 1989, and unification gathered pace, the stadium was granted funds to begin to update its facilities. The host club, Hertha Berlin, were invited to join the inaugural German Bundesliga, and redevelopment was necessary to bring the standard of the ground up to those in the west. However, funds were not available to add probably the most important thing for a spectator – a roof. Berlin is not known for its warm barmy winter’s evenings, and so their loyal fans had to endure the elements whilst watching their team. In 1998 a decision was taken to begin the complete modernisation of the stadium by the local state government. The work, which took over four years to complete, saw the whole of the inside of the stadium demolished and replaced, piece by piece as well as the much needed roof being added. All of this construction took place with events continuing to take place in the stadium, albeit with a reduced capacity. The redevelopment work included the removal of every limestone block to be cleaned, and then replaced – a job akin to completing a huge jigsaw puzzle.
The reconstructed stadium was finally finished in time for Hertha’s first game of the 2004/05 season with VfL Bochum and underlined the venue as one of the most modern stadiums in the world, and a venue fit for the World Cup Final in 2006. The stadium also hosted matches five other matches, including the quarter final penalties victory for Germany over Argentina
How to get a ticket for the Olympiastadion
Tickets for any event that is being played at the stadium can be booked in advanced via the website http://www.olympiastadion-berlin.de. This includes concerts, American Football as well as Hertha matches. Hertha also have their own ticket website at http://www.hertha.de. Last season the average attendance at the stadium was only 47,000, meaning that for the majority of matches tickets were available on the day of the game. Tickets range in price from €13 Euros behind the goal to €45 for one of the best seats in the house in the Sud Tribune. The hardcore Hertha fans are found in the East Curve.
How to get to the Olympiastadion
The easiest way to reach the stadium is by either U-Bahn on line U2, or by S-Bahn on lines S5/S75. Both of these stations are called Olympiastadion, although they are geographically separate. The U-Bahn station is located to the east of the stadium on Rominter Allee – which will bring fans out onto the huge Olympischer Platz and the view of the famous Olympic towers. A journey from Zoo Station in the west of Berlin is 8 stops and will take around 15 minutes. From the east of the city, you can jump on the U-Bahn line at either Alexanderplatz or Potsdamer Platz – allow 35 from the former and 25 from the latter.
The S-Bahn station is located to the south of the stadium, and is around 200 yards from the Sudtor entrance. Trains run from Zoo Station, Alexanderplatz and the newly constructed Hauptbahnhof. The journey time from Zoo should be around 10 minutes.
Finally, you can get a taxi to the stadium. Normally they will drop you off at the end of the Olympischer Platz close to the Osttor. A journey from Potsdamer Platz will take around 20 minutes and cost €20, from Zoo around 15 minutes and €17. Taxi’s can be hailed in the street, found around most big hotels or by ringing 0800 2222255 .