1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Euro 2024: Germany win over Denmark marks a return to elite

June 29, 2024

Goals from Kai Havertz and Jamal Musiala helped Germany overcome Denmark and a thunderstorm to reach the final eight of a major football tournament for the first time since 2016.

Jamal Musiala celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the UEFA Euro 2024 round of 16 football match between Germany and Denmark at the BVB Stadion Dortmund in Dortmund on June 29, 2024
Jamal Musiala scored the second goal for Germany, sealing the host team's victoryImage: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images

A mosquito infestation, a thunderstorm, the loss of a defensive starter and a host of VAR decisions - Germany have faced almost everything in the last few days (except a train delay)!

But, they overcame it all to reach their first quarterfinal of a major tournament in eight years.

The 2-0 win against Denmark in their Euro 2024 Round of 16 match was wild in the way only international knockout football can be. A furious start, a pair of disallowed goals and a thunderstorm that saw the game suspended for 25 minutes. 

It was the kind of stirring performance that will only see more people believe Germany can win it all. 

"We had some crazy fans here today and the stadium shook," Nico Schlotterbeck told ZDF afterwards. "We've released something in the country. We're playing with euphoria, we're playing with fun and that's when football is the most beautiful."

Nagelsmann confident

Maybe Julian Nagelsmann knew all along. The night before he said he was so comfortable with his team’s preparation he said would go to bed with his mind at ease.

Literally speaking, Germany midfielder Robert Andrich said the prospect of this knockout match gave him wings. By five minutes past nine o'clock local time on Saturday night, it was easy to see why the two had come into the match feeling that way. 

Germany flew out of the starting blocks. Schlotterbeck, in for the suspended Jonathan Tah, scored after only three minutes but saw his header ruled out for a foul in the build up. Wave after wave of attack followed, but the only thing that landed was the thunderstorm.

The break that came midway through the first half as a result of an intense period of rain, wind, lightning and the occasional crack of loud thunder, might have thrown worse sides out of rhythm. Not this Germany team. 

The hosts restarted as if they had not stopped. Kai Havertz had a header saved brilliantly, Schlotterbeck was everywhere, pumping up the crowd, heading into the side netting and then nearly gifting Denmark a goal. The first 45 minutes of play were wild, but in a way that felt like Germany could handle.

What was out of their control was the video assistant referee (VAR), and it was here that Germany got the bounce of the ball. The difference in winning or losing wasn't one centimeter, but it was certainly that fine margin that changed the flow of the game. 

After all, that was the distance that ruled out Joachim Andersen's goal after VAR. Moments later, a cross clipped Andersen's fingertips, VAR stepped in and gave a penalty for handball. 

Jochim Andersen (center) looks at the ball as he is about to strike it. He is surrounded by Germany and Danish players
Jochim Andersen came within centimeters of giving Denmark the leadImage: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Havertz scored superbly and Denmark had gone from being a goal ahead to a goal down on two controversial decisions. When Jamal Musiala finished off Schlotterbeck's beautiful ball over the top to double the score, the contest was over.

Times are a-changing

The last time Germany won a knockout game at a major tournament that was goalless at the break was the 2014 World Cup final. Times are changing because this team, led by Nagelsmann, is different.

And the timing is not irrelevant either. In 2024, with global wars impacting Germany and the recent European election results suggesting the country remains divided, this team is playing its part. To expect it to heal wounds or close political divides is folly, but it might, even if only temporarily, make an impact beyond the field.

Captain Ilkay Gündogan told "The Athletic" recently that this Germany squad represents the country: “There are players with immigration backgrounds. It’s what modern Germany is about. It works so well in our team and it would work so well for society - but it’s not always that easy."

And, Nagelsmann echoed his skipper's words, adding after the victory: "We have a brilliant mix of people born in different countries who live in Germany. We have a warm community and everyone is welcome. We have a brilliant team and every character fits to each other." 

Antonio Rüdiger was deservedly man of the match against Denmark. He, Schlotterbeck and Joshua Kimmich all celebrated tackles won in the final stages like they were goals. At the final whistle, Kimmich's arms were outstretched in celebration, Rüdiger was on his knees praying and Havertz was lying down, perhaps reflecting on his missed opportunities. This is Germany in 2024.

Dynamic Dortmund

Fittingly, and perhaps inevitably, it all happened in Germany's most famous stadium. Four hours before kick off, fans walked to the stadium together. A flare was lit. Toni Kroos, Florian Wirtz and Niclas Füllkrug jerseys were on show. So too were those of former German players Sebastian Kehl, Jurgen Klinsmann and Rudi Völler. 

Dortmund was ripe for a Germany game and it delivered. The fans brought the atmosphere, but at the heart of it all was this team. The lightning might have fallen from the sky, but it felt like Germany were the storm. 

Three years ago to the day, at the previous Euros tournament, Harry Kane scored at Wembley for England against a Germany team that looked lost, desperate and unaware of the spiral it was still in. 

Fast forward a three-year spell that has felt a decade long and things couldn't be more different. Banished are the worries of old, with Nagelsmann saying: "Hopefully they [the team] will delete the old hard drive and realize how good they are."

A country awash with pink jerseys, packed fan zones and endlessly reciting renditions of a 1983 pop classic, is bubbling with excitement about this team. 

The title looms, but the feeling in Dortmund in the early hours of Sunday morning was that Germany are back. And, after a dismal previous three major international tournaments for the national team, that feels like a win in its own right.

Edited by: Kalika Mehta