Latvia ties Germany, still alive in Euro 2004

When is nothing worth something? When you’re the Latvian football (soccer) team and you hold the German national team to a 0-0 tie in the Euro 2004 championship in Portugal.

Latvia earned its first point in the standings June 19 when it surprised Germany by keeping it scoreless in a game that many figured Germany would easily win. In Euro 2004 group play, a win is worth three points, while a draw is worth one. Both Latvia and Germany walked away from their match with one point.

Even though Germany outshot Latvia 22-5 and had control of the ball for 65 percent of the game, the Latvian defense didn’t give in. On the offensive, Latvian forward Māris Verpakovskis had his team’s best shot at the goal near the end of the first half, but German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn stopped it, according to the Euro 2004 official Web site.

Latvia’s ambassador to Germany, Mārtiņš Virsis, before the game offered honorary citizenship to the German goalkeeper Kahn, according to the German tabloid Bild. All he had to do was let the ball get past him. Kahn, it turns out, has family ties to Latvia: his paternal grandmother was Latvian and his father was born in Latvia.

In Group D, the Czech Republic already is guaranteed a spot in the quarterfinals. Latvia next faces the Netherlands in a June 23 match in Braga Municipal Stadium in Braga, Portugal. Germany, meanwhile, faces the Czech Republic in Lisbon.

A victory over the Netherlands would send Latvia to the quarterfinals—unless the second-place Germans defeat the Czechs.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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