Home advantage may have given West Germany the edge, but Italy were as competitive an outfit as ever and were good value for a 1-1 draw in the 1988 curtain-raiser.
Franz Beckenbauer's team were still in the process of adding flair to a side which had reached the FIFA World Cup final two years earlier. The Italians, rebuilding after losing their grip on the global prize in Mexico, were in much the same boat. Here in Dusseldorf, their youthful lineup had much the better of an entertaining match, their new pressing tactics harrying the hosts into defensive errors. One such slip allowed Roberto Mancini to put Italy in front, but Germany were level – through Andreas Brehme – just three minutes later.
Sweeper Mathias Herget, struggling to fill Beckenbauer's shoes, struggled more than most at the back, though it was a more widespread defensive mix-up which led to Mancini's opener seven minutes after half-time. Roberto Donadoni, splendid with the ball at his feet, stole in and set Mancini free on the right, with the young striker finishing right-footed to record his first international goal at the 14th attempt.
The visitors may have built on that effort had they maintained their lead for any notable period. Instead, they surrendered their advantage in no time at all, Perrie Littbarski touching an indirect free-kick into the path of Brehme, whose deflected shot beat Walter Zenga to ensure the spoils were shared.