Former England senior national team manager Sven-Goran Eriksson has disclosed the winning formula that led to the 5-1 annihilation of hosts Germany in a Group 9 qualifier ahead of the 2002 FIFA World Cup tournament in South Korea and Japan. He looked back on the game played on September 1, 2001 in the German city of Munich in a chat with Coaches’ Voice as he revealed how he exploited the weaknesses in the German team to lead England to victory. It was the best performance of his five-year reign as England manager. The game was also one of the best of all time for the Three Lions due to the fact that Germany had previously lost once at home in the World Cup qualifiers.
The Germans had a midfield of Michael Ballack, Dietmar Hamann and Sebastien Diesler. The midfield trio had no answers to the majority of the problems posed by the English team which had a youthful trio of Steven Gerrard, Ashley Cole and Rio Ferdinand. The young England players came of age on the international scene as they played their respective parts in an emphatic comeback win for their team in what was a crucial World Cup qualifier.
An away win for Germany over England in the last game at the Old Wembley Stadium had contributed to the Germans leading their group and on course to make it to the World Cup tournament proper automatically. Swedish manager Eriksson had replaced Kevin Keegan as manager by the time England faced Germany again and had led them to stay in contention for World Cup qualification automatically by building a young and exiting team led by David Beckham who was at his peak.
Carsten Jancker gave Germany an early lead in the sixth minute before goals from the Liverpool duo of Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard turned the game around for England at the break. Owen added two more goals to emulate Geoff Hurst in netting three goals against Germany in a competitive match. A third Liverpool goalscorer in Emile Heskey sealed the big win.
As revealed earlier, Michael Ballack, Sebastien Diesler and Dietmar Hamann struggled to hold the German midfield. Apart from Michael Ballack, Germany also had players such as Oliver Kahn, Oliver Neuville and Jens Nowotny in their starting XI.