No agreement between Germany and Austria this time around

Germany and Austria will reignite their historical rivalry in Monday's match with a quarter-final berth at Euro 2008 at stake.
Martin Harnik and Austria need to defeat Germany in order to qualify for the quarter-finals. ((Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Austria vs. Germany.

It's an age old soccer rivalry that goes back 100 years, the two countries having first squared off in an exhibition match in Vienna on June 7, 1908.

A century and two World Wars later, the two sides return to Vienna, reigniting their historical rivalry in Monday's match with a quarter-final berth at Euro 2008 at stake.

The scenario is simple. If Germany wins or earns a draw in the Group B encounter, they will move on to the next round and keep alive their hopes of winning a fourth European Championship. Austria needs a win to have any chance of advancing to the next round.

It's a winner-take-all match. A must-win game for both sides as only one team can advance.

This time, there will be no hanky panky.

1982 controversy

In the 1982 World Cup in Spain, Austria and West Germany shamefully conspired with one another, draping a blanket of controversy over the competition and leaving an indelible stain on the sport that will never be cleansed away.

Algeria, playing in its first World Cup, had pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the history of the tournament when it earned a 2-1 victory over West Germany in Gijon on June 16, 1982. The Africans looked a sure bet to go through to the next round from Group B.

Austria and the Germans faced off in the final match of the group in Gijon on June 17. Because FIFA did not require the final two games of the group stages to be played at the same time, Austria and West Germany knew that a 1-0 win for the Germans would be enough for both nations to advance to the next round at the expense of the upstart Algerians.

And so, the two neighbouring countries had their arrangement and stopped playing when the Germans went up 1-0 after 10 minutes.

From that point on, the game slowed to a crawl with neither team seriously venturing forward, instead killing time with a series of short passes inside their half of the field.

The Spanish spectators in the stands booed both countries unmercifully as they carried out the most despicable of sporting frauds, and Algeria protested the result to FIFA the next day, but soccer's world governing body turned a blind eye and let the injustice stand.

Both the Austrians and Germans denied they had made any sort of arrangement beforehand, but their act of collusion was as obvious as it was abhorrent, and it prompted FIFA to change the rules for subsequent tournaments so that the final two games in each group were played simultaneously.

Winner-take-all game

There will be no arrangement this time around, though.

Croatia has already wrapped up first place in Group B at Euro 2008, meaning either Austria or Germany — and not both — can emerge from Monday's encounter and be able to fight another day.

But even if the circumstances allowed them the opportunity to conspire a second time, chances are the two teams would not take it.

A tidal wave of pride and national fervour is washing through Austria these days after the team earned a dramatic 1-1 draw with Poland in its last game. That result kept the Austrians alive and set the table for the Vienna showdown that could see the tournament co-hosts advance to the quarter-finals in their debut at the European Championships.

Though it appears to be a mismatch on paper — Germany is No. 5 in the current FIFA rankings, while Austria is ranked No. 92 in the world — there is a growing belief amongst Austrians that their team can pull off the upset.

Hans Krankl is helping to fuel the flames of belief in his home country, asking the current crop of Austrian players to look to his past acts of heroics against the Germans for inspiration.

It was Krankl's two goals that helped Austria upset West Germany in the second round at the 1978 World Cup in Argentina, a result that prevented the heavily favoured Germans from repeating as world champions.

"Austria's players can and should make history on this day. They have the chance to become heroes, to match our achievement in Cordoba. We beat them in 1978 and if we win again in 2008, I would be thrilled for the team," said Krankl.