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Gijon 'pact' is ancient history, says Joachim Loew

Joachim Loew, the Germany coach, is fed up with talk of the 1982 World Cup when West Germany lost to Algeria and then coasted to a convenient 1-0 win over Austria to knock their conquerors out.

Noting the age of his players, Loew said it was absurd to use terms such as "revenge" in relation to today's match between two countries who have not met since that game at the finals in Gijon, Spain 32 years ago.

Germany have played Algeria twice and lost both times - 2-1 at the 1982 finals and 2-0 in a friendly in 1964 in Algiers. They are one of the few teams Germany have never beaten.

"I find it irritating when I read that this is a match about vengeance," said Loew. "Most of the players on my team weren't even born [in 1982]. Why should Algeria want to punish us? It's incomprehensible. Our players don't know anything about that [West Germany] team back then. Maybe some on the other side want to make an issue of it to motivate Algeria."

It is certainly a topic motivating the media. That match on June 25, 1982 was probably the darkest hour in the 104-year history of the German FA (DFB) and is still referred to as the 'Schande von Gijon' ('Disgrace of Gijon') or the 'Gijon non-aggression pact' in Germany and Austria.

Algeria beat West Germany in their first group match 2-1, but lost to Austria 2-0, then beat Chile 3-2 on June 24. West Germany knew a 1-0 win over Austria in their final group match the next day would enable them and their opponents to advance to the second round while eliminating Algeria. That is exactly what happened, as Horst Hrubesch scored in the 10th minute and the rest of the match was a soulless kick-about in which neither team looked like they were attempting to score.

Fans at the match burned banknotes and shouted "rigged". Television commentators in West Germany and Austria condemned the play and urged viewers to turn off their TVs.

Loew, who is believed to be above David Moyes on the wish list of Galatasaray, as the Turkish club seek a new manager, but who insists he expects to fulfil his contract with Germany to the World Cup in 2016, said he found it hard to fathom that either coach would have endorsed collusion on the pitch.

"Whether there was an agreement, I just don't know," he said. "But for any coach who thinks normally there is just no way that could happen. Every coach wants to win."

Wolfgang Niersbach, the German DFB president, sitting next to Loew at a weekend press conference, was at that infamous match as a journalist.

He said West German reporters had found it strange and embarrassing but added that the players denied there was any pre-match pact.

"I talked to the players and they said there was no agreement," Niersbach said. "They said that it just evolved out of the situation during the course of the match.

"There was an error in the [scheduling] system before that match," he said, adding that after that game FIFA changed the schedule and since then the final group matches have been played simultaneously. "FIFA corrected the error in the system."

Germany will be without Lukas Podolski for today's match in Porto Alegre after he picked up a thigh injury in their 1-0 group-stage victory over the USA, in which the Arsenal forward won his 116th cap.

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