Nations tend to go ape upon winning the World Cup (soccer/football variety), so one can forgive Germans for leaving their shells to celebrate the recent event in Rio de Janeiro. Such emotion is usually displayed only at Fasching, when all inhibitions are legally cast aside.
Hundreds of thousands flocked to Berlin to welcome the team, which arrived on a specially painted Lufthansa 747 and then progressed in a foot-faced procession—atop a specially designed Mercedes truck—to the Brandenburg Gate, where the crowd had been waiting as long as 8 hours to ensure a good spot. That merely see—from a distance—some young men that are able to kick a ball better than most. The rest of the nation remained glued to a television, despite the two hour delay in arrival. (A baggage cart collided with the plane at Rio airport, perhaps as revenge for the Brazil-Germany debacle.) Football/soccer unites nations, unlike the divisions caused by football/baseball/basketball in the United States, which do not have national teams.
For years—decades even—Germans feared showing too much exuberance and never displayed the flag outside official buildings. Lately, the (ugly) red/black/gold are seen everywhere, including being worn as a cape. Everything American was copied, except public-display-of-affection for the national flag: that has soccer/football to thank for its growth.
Winning is great and adulation is gratifying, but now the pressure is on to perform equally well at the upcoming (2016) European Championship and the next World Cup competition (2018). And, all these guys start playing for their respective professional clubs soon, where no one cares about nationality. There is never any rest for the weary in the world of top level football/soccer.
I am sick of hearing the Messi is the best player in the world. One must simply look at his performance in South Africa and Brazil. And, look at his last shot of the game in extra time of the overtime!
The refereeing has been atrocious. Whoever makes the choices is not too smart. The picked an Italian referee for a game in which one team has many players of Italian descent. His favouritism was obvious.
The German team either forgot how to score goals or used up their quota in the Brazil game.
Germany deserved to win the game and the Cup.
Anyone with half a brain should have known that the World Cup final would be between Germany and Argentina, even before the competition began. There are two popes, aren’t there?
What is more difficult to surmise is which one their lord and master will favor on the day. Having a big statue of a fictional character did not help Brazil against Germany; then again, Brazil has never had a pope.
For anyone that missed the Argentina-Holland game, I suffered so that you do not have to. Before the game, I predicted that it would end in penalty shots and, sadly, I was correct (Too bad my lottery predictions are not as prescient!). This might have been the most-boring soccer game…ever. And, that’s saying a lot, because most soccer games are boring. Fortunately, I had a book to read. Rarely did I look up, because nothing happened. To give you an indication, Holland did not have a single shot on goal during the regulation 90 minutes of play. Statistics do not lie, even in sport. Zero shots on goal by a team that wants to be world champion. And, this is the team that beat the reigning world champion, Spain, 5-0 in the opening match. Argentina, another team that wants to be world champion, beat Holland in a penalty shoot-out, and must face Germany managed only three shots in 90 minutes of play. And, the supposed “best player in the world” is on the Argentina team. He didn’t look best last night.
It was obvious that both teams were so afraid of losing, neither was willing to take risks. And, risk taking makes for exciting games. Risk taking results in goals, albeit ofter for the other team. Even if the Dutch deserved to lose, Argentina did not deserve to win.
This was a miserable game, with two worthless teams, worthless players, worthless coaches, worthless strategies, worthless tactics, and no goals. Penalty shots do not count: they are merely to decided a default winner. Anyone can win a crap shoot.
My only hope is that Germany will not lower themselves to compete at the level of Argentina in the final. I will have a book handy, just in case…
Although the North Atlantic Oscillation is delivering “normal” German summer weather--rain and cool temperatures--which contributes to usual German moodiness, a wave of joy has rolled over the land. The first hint of a mood swing occurred the moment Thomas Müller scored the first (of many) goals in the Brazil-German game last night. Naturally, shock was mixed with joy, because no one--and I mean no one alive on this planet--could have predicted such an outcome. Too many illusions, prejudices, and even sound judgment prevented even hinting at such German dominance and Brazilian collapse.
I would be remiss not to comment on the World Cup, especially since anyone stumbling on this significant blog would expect to learn my opinion.
Of course, being a human person, I have an opinion, which is often correct. Just as often, I occasionally admit being incorrect or not knowing.
Here is one man's opinion, in no order of importance of significance.
I wanted Columbia to beat Brazil, because I root for the underdog and the team was good enough.
Although castigated in the press, the guy that injured Neymar was concentrating on the ball and taking a normal step. Of course, the court of public opinion (Brazilian) will demand that FIFA mete out an inappropriate punishment. Unlike with Suarez, the guy did not mean to hurt anyone.
Brazil might play better without Neymar. A team that must rely on the performance on one individual is not a great team.
I have not been impressed by Argentina. The game was boring. Belgium deserved to win, as they were a more-balanced team. Argentine will probably fail, because they rely to much on one player (see above).
Although Holland was the stronger team, I wanted Costa Rica to win (see above). This was one of the better games in this competition. I all be surprised in Holland does not win the Cup.
German fans are insane. A national uproar forced the coach to change his line-up. Because they won the game, fans now think they must save the nation's honor.
I want Germany to lose, only because that will prevent all automobile owners from driving past my house honking the horn, a practice that winning fosters.
In general, refereeing has been very poor.
Basically, however, I do not care who wins. I have attended many World Cup final matches and can recall hardly anything about each game. I must even pause to thing who played and who won.
I do not care who wins the World Cup. Because of that, I tend to root for the underdog in any match/game I watch. For example, I would have liked to see Iran win or Chile…or Algeria, even if that would have meant potential divorce proceedings.
The Argentina-Switzerland match/game is currently playing in the background. I would like to see the Swiss win, because everyone expects Argentina to win, not only this game, but also the World Cup. I am not impressed. Switzerland has had better chances to score. We’ll see.
Later, USA plays Belgium. In most minds, US is the underdog, so i guess that I should root for them. I am not a nationalist, so citizenship does not demand support for a national sports team. Each must earn my support. I would like to see US win, only because no one expects them to even be able to kick a ball. I have nothing against Belgium, the ultimate underdog, but soccer needs a boost in the land of WWF, demolition derby, and Jackass.
I don’t know who to believe, but I doubt the credulity of the Internet and US media.
I am watching the Holland-Mexico game. On the television, which is usually a live broadcast without delay, the time is 28 minutes of the first half and the score is 0-0.
On the New York Times website at the same time, one item says “live blog” and gives the score as Mexico 1, Holland 0, while an item further down the page announces that the score is 0-0 at the end of the first half.
Who do you believe? I will be interested to see the news later or tomorrow to find out what actually happened…
In some cases, Americans have been clever in appropriating professional sports global championships: World Series, Super Bowl, NBA crown (whatever it’s called), etc. With the exception of the Olympic Games, the honour of the nation is never piled on the shoulders of one athlete or even a team.
Soccer/football (notice how multi-lingual I am and how considerate of non-Americans) is different. The World Cup competition brings out the worst of nationalism. People, who are rarely interested in sport, come out of the woodwork and from beneath stones to rave about something about which they know little. The main criteria is to root for one’s own.
Germans never fly the national flag, especially in one’s yard, except during the World Cup. For a short time, cars are adorned with flags, mirror decorations, and hood covers in the national colours. During games of the national team, streets are devoid of cars; bars are full, and something known as “public viewing” overflows with people seeking their like to cheer or suffer. Fears that nationalism might remind people of World War II are forgotten for the duration. The hopes of the nation ride on every game/match. Angie even flew to Brazil for the opening game and was back in the office the next day. Can you imagine Obama doing that? For soccer? Angie knew that voters would expect this and would appreciate her effort. No one questioned the cost of the fuel or her neglecting the crisis in Ukraine or battles with the UK over the European leadership issue.
Of course, similar scenes are repeated around the world in countries lucky enough to qualify for the competition. As teams fall be the wayside, countries will suffer psychological damage and spend the next four years analysing what went wrong and who is to blame. (If you don’t believe, check English newspapers, who lament or criticise their team’s early demise, the worst showing in 60 years.) Coaches are fired. Players, of course, return to highly paid jobs with professional clubs/teams.
Life goes on…
I tuned into the Argentina-Iran game, not out of interest but rather out of lack of better choices. I could have read a book, but needed a break from reading and computers.
No goals had been scored. Contrary to my expectations, the Iranians were holding their own and showing no fear of the favorites. I recalled my days as a competitive athlete. I always imagined that I was better than I might have been. I played games in my mind as a member of a team of which I would never be a member. As I child, I imagined playing for the Bruins. I am certain all boys imagine such greatness.
If you reach the World Cup competition, after a gruelling qualification series, you must imagine that you can win. Of course, some region’s qualification is less gruelling than others. Qualifying in Europe is more difficult that qualifying in Asia, but none are easy.
Also, I know that, on any given day, any team can beat any other team. On a good day (for a weak team), a weaker team can defeat a better team. There are too many variables in sport. If a team or its players imagine themselves to be better, than they can defeat arrogance and nonchalance. And, although the final score line might deceive, there are no easy games in a World Cup competition.
I’ve been reading articles about the US needing a generation to become good enough to compete…for a generation. On some give day, the team might win or draw, but all players and fans must live with the illusions I mentioned above. They can win only in their imaginations.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.