World Cup 2006 Blog

From our reporters in Germany

Frings really have changed

paul_armstrong_55x55.gifBERLIN - Bear with this blog: I’m eventually going to agree with my fellow blogger Paul Atherton who has audaciously adopted the host nation for the remainder of the tournament.

Eventually. But first, as that well-known goalkeeper and part-time existentialist, Albert Camus once wrote: “All I know most surely about morality and obligations, I owe to football.”

And I’m sure I’m not alone in having my outlook on life partly shaped by watching the Germans in World Cups gone by. Moral justice never seems to have been done, and we’ve generally felt obliged to want them to come a cropper.

The Hungarian psyche must have been permanently damaged when Puskas and co went on a four-year unbeaten run in the early 50s, beat Germany 8-3 in a 1954 World Cup group game, went 2-0 up in the final…and still lost.

The Dutch did something similar when clearly the best team in 1974, and have never really got over it. The Scots have also tasted cruel defeat against Germany, in Mexico ’86 and at Euro ’92.

But England have turned the feeling into an art form. Every generation of England fans over the last 40 years has learnt the hard way that life isn’t fair – 1970 in Leon and ’72 at Wembley if you’re a certain age, ’90 and ’96 if you’re one of our Assistant Producers.

But the seminal moment for me came on 8 July 1982, and didn’t involve England at all.

I was 17 and West Germany were playing France in the World Cup semi-final in Seville. France were an entertaining side with a wonderful midfield of Platini, Tigana, Fernandez and Giresse, Germany were a bunch of pantomime villains.

They had lost their opening game to Algeria, but at that time, the last set of group games were not held simultaneously, so Germany openly colluded with Austria.

Between them, they achieved the 1-0 result that put both through, and Algeria out. It was legal, but absolutely stank the place out. They then bored their way to a 0-0 draw with an equally cagey England, and sneaked into the semi-final.

Their team included a Basil Fawlty-like, permanently angry centre-back called Uli Stielike, various colossal supremely athletic Cyborgs with names like Dremmler and Briegel, a beetroot-faced centre forward in Horst Hrubesch, and a bloke called Klaus Fischer who once in a blue moon used to score with an overhead kick.

He even managed to do that in an irritating fashion. Worst of all, they had Schumacher. Not the guy who efficiently drives round and round a track annoying those viewers who manage to stay awake. This one was Toni the goalkeeper, not Michael, and was infinitely worse.

For the sake of objectivity, I will now quote from the Complete Book of the World Cup: “In the second half, Battiston ran clear and was bodychecked by Schumacher, probably the worst-looking foul in any World Cup. No free-kick, no red card, just concussion and broken teeth for Battiston who was stretchered off and given oxygen.”

He actually spent several weeks in hospital, but not only did Schumacher taunt the French fans in the crowd, he also saved the crucial penalty in the shoot-out, after France had led 3-1 during extra-time. It was just horrible: Camus must have been turning in his grave and I was learning all sorts of lessons about morality and obligations.

None of them very positive.

The above outburst was prompted by the fact that Germany play Italy in Tuesday's semi-final. 24 years ago, I vowed I would never follow football again if the Germans somehow beat Italy in the final.

To be fair, at about the same time, I vowed never to have anything to do with women again if the girl of my dreams didn’t finish with a certain boorish rugger-bugger. My wife probably wishes I’d stuck to my guns…

I digress. Then as now, Italy were not a great team to watch, their football was immersed in a corruption scandal, and to make matters worse, they’d eliminated a fantastic Brazilian side. However, I’ve never supported a team with more fervour than I did Italy in that final.

Tardelli’s delirious expression after he’d slammed the second past Schumacher was matched only by mine as I danced round the living room.

24 years on though, I would actually really like Germany to win, and wouldn’t even mind if they beat France in the final.

They’ve been wonderful hosts (a survey of visiting fans gave them 8.8 out of 10 for hospitality: most of us would give them a 10) and there is absolutely no-one to dislike in this German team. Jens Lehmann is a mite eccentric, but look as hard as you like and you won’t find a thug, cheat or Andy Moeller-strut in sight.

Yes, they’re still annoyingly good at penalties (it even seems to have rubbed off on Owen Hargreaves) but there’s something altogether more wholesome about their progress this time.

They’ve cast off the Teutonic efficiency tag (difficult in any case to sustain with two Polish-Germans up front, and two African-Germans on the bench) and have probably been the most entertaining side in the tournament.

To cap it all, their coach is a study in intelligence and diplomacy. Most people in the UK decided he was OK when he launched into that self-deprecating dive at Sheffield Wednesday.

I was already a convert after he held up the Inter Milan team coach to fulfil an interview with Ray Stubbs after we’d become horribly lost looking for their training ground back in 1991.

He may be a little hippy-trippy for some tastes but, as the Dead Kennedys once sang, “California Uber Alles.” Frings really have changed…


Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 06:09 PM on 03 Jul 2006,
  • florian wrote:

this entry is great, congratulations for bringing jürgen klinsmann and the dead kennedies together

AND ITS A HOLDIDAY IN GERMANY
ITS TOUGH KID BUT ITS LIVE !!!

i better leave the next lines out ..:)

flo

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  • 2.
  • At 06:09 PM on 03 Jul 2006,
  • stefano wrote:

too bad frings will not play tomorrow thanks to the italian press. thanks alot guys! :-(

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  • 3.
  • At 06:48 PM on 03 Jul 2006,
  • teutonicaUK wrote:

sorry for the hijacking ... but speaking of a different kind of Frings - looks like the Italians got their wish granted, the FIFA decided to suspend Torsten Frings for the next game.

That's really a shame!

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  • 4.
  • At 07:10 PM on 03 Jul 2006,
  • John wrote:

So we measure how old we are by which of Englan's defeats we remember, interesting idea! I'm not saying which ones I remember!

Isn't a bit unfair to criticise the Germans for the 1-0 win over Austria in 82 - they did win the game after all.

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  • 5.
  • At 07:44 PM on 03 Jul 2006,
  • efbfredriks wrote:

fantastic blog. the germans have been brilliant hosts. ive been here throughout the world cup and theyve been all friednly faces and cheeky banter, nothing untoward. klinnsmann has been a revelation for the german national side and, with england out, im a newly converted german and really hope they push on past the italians and get what they deserve - the title of world champions

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  • 6.
  • At 07:52 PM on 03 Jul 2006,
  • Mac wrote:

John,
it was a really shabby way to win. After the goal for Germany no one even tried to bring the keepers in danger. Both entered the next round and Algeria had to go home. Even here in Germany the people are ashamed of this match. It's called "The Shame of Gijón"

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  • 7.
  • At 08:09 PM on 03 Jul 2006,
  • Phil wrote:

Perhaps, England should have hired a German coach.

I just hope that McLaren hasn't been infected by Ericksson's style of coaching. I guess we'll find out soon enough. Personally I'd just like to see a couple of old fashioned fast wingers in the team.

Also, if Ericksson is truely sorry, then why doesn't he give half his wages back to the FA?

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  • 8.
  • At 08:29 PM on 03 Jul 2006,
  • Jenny wrote:

As a Newcastle supporter can I just say

England - when was the last time you won anything?

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  • 9.
  • At 08:33 PM on 03 Jul 2006,
  • John wrote:

Mac: poor old Germany though - they can't win, even when they win!

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  • 10.
  • At 09:34 PM on 03 Jul 2006,
  • Nicky Emsley wrote:

Germany, can you see them winning? I think Italy will be a bigger test for them than Argentine. Italy have a strong back 4 as well as the best goal keeper at this moment in time. Germany may have some great players but personally i can't see them being a problem for Italy. 2-0 i reckon. Portugal to win!

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  • 11.
  • At 09:47 PM on 03 Jul 2006,
  • georgm wrote:

Boy, I'm so excited! I'm going to finally buy me a Germany jersey tomorrow, but we might still well lose against Italy (particularly without Frings)! I'll use it to dry my tears then! ;-)
Anyway it's a shame you English are out. You deserved better and the tournament is definitely more boring without you!

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  • 12.
  • At 09:56 PM on 03 Jul 2006,
  • Martha wrote:

.....and the Arsenal goalie is?????

I think Germany has already won. They have changed the way Europeans and especially the Brits see / experience them. That will last longer than any trophy.

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  • 13.
  • At 10:08 PM on 03 Jul 2006,
  • deutsch-fan wrote:

who ever said how could english NOT support the germans..is just so right..cuz they should as they are cousins.

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  • 14.
  • At 10:21 PM on 03 Jul 2006,
  • Nicky Emsley wrote:

Mad Yenz-Yenz Lehman. He is up there for the best in the world but he won't be able to keep out a Francesco Totti when hes on form. Not being biest as i am an Arsenal fan

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  • 15.
  • At 10:22 PM on 03 Jul 2006,
  • Michael wrote:

Hi Stefano, being German I'm also disappointed in Frings not playing, but let's face it. The Italian team had not a single thing to do with it. The Italian press had picked up on it, but it was shown on German TV first. And if Frings did it (which he obviously did) he needs to be punished like all the other players who do foul play (e.g. Rooney). FIFA was actually pretty decent in just having him sit out in the next game and the second one on probation, because he was clearly attacked by the Argentinians first. The only thing I don't get about their decision is that the Argentinian guy who hit him first got away with it. Anyway, I'm sure the other guys in the team will now be on even more on fire to win tomorrow's game and get Frings into the final. Might be a real fun game to watch. And I seriously hope for a France-Germany final.

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  • 16.
  • At 10:27 PM on 03 Jul 2006,
  • Juergen wrote:

Thank you!!!

It is very surprising to have an English person say something positive about a German, much more surprísing to have them back a German sports team...

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  • 17.
  • At 10:53 PM on 03 Jul 2006,
  • Sportsguy wrote:

Great Article!

I'm glad we are viewed as a great host and that our team plays the most entertaining football (and they are winning nevertheless). Especially, I like hearing this from an English weblog.

I was feeling with you and I hope we can take revenge on the Portugese in Berlin on Sunday.

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  • 18.
  • At 10:55 PM on 03 Jul 2006,
  • teutonicaUK wrote:

Quote from Michael:
"The Italian press had picked up on it, but it was shown on German TV first."

That shows again how dumb masochistic we Germans are - instead of finger pointing and outside blame, we are our own worst enemy. Something similar to it, such as finding an English news report defending Ronaldo has yet to be written/published. ... ;)

Don't kill me, I'm just saying ...

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  • 19.
  • At 11:17 PM on 03 Jul 2006,
  • Axel wrote:

In Germany, the 1954 Word Cup victory is usually denominated as "the miracle of Bern" (Das Wunder von Bern) and some historians think that this event marks the real beginning of modern-day Germany. Please remember: Nine years after the war, Germany was down in all needs and people were no longer keen to identified with being German anymore. And then came this tournament with a German team as a hopeless underdog and Hungary, the favourite team that hadn't lost in 30 international matches. And then the final with an early two goal deficit...

I think today everyone in Germany has sometime listen to the legendary radio annotator from Herbert Zimmermann ("Er hat den Ball verloren diesmal, gegen Schäfer - Schäfer nach innen geflankt - Kopfball – abgewehrt - aus dem Hintergrund müsste Rahn schießen – Rahn schießt! – Tooooor! Tooooor! Tooooor! Tooooor! ..."). There is also a 2003 film by Sönke Wortmann and a bizarre animation film with LEGO minifigures as football players...

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  • 20.
  • At 11:30 PM on 03 Jul 2006,
  • tehoco wrote:

@michael:

That is not true! Italian television showed it all day long yesterday. Finally in the evening, when FIFA announced the investigation vs Frings, german media picked up the story. So that was certainly an italian attempt to weaken the german team by causing some trouble and getting rid of an important player. The italian players and officials said, they had nothing to do with it which you can believe or not. But even if you believe it, Frings' suspension was manifestly caused by Italians and the crowd in the stadium will give the italian team a hard time tomorrow. The Italians will probably now be playing in the most hostile environment, they have ever seen. I'm not sure, it was a clever move by the italian media, but we will see about that :)

On the latest blogs:
I'm really pleased to finally read so many positive comments about Germans and Germany. Having studied for a year in England in 2000, I can only hope, that these new positive impressions will last and will not be smashed by the next newspaper article. It's not always been easy (I can tell!) for Germans in England and it's really about time you guys got rid of your stereotypes and noticed that after all they aren't sooooooo bad, "ze germans". ;)

Greetings from Bonn!

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  • 21.
  • At 11:32 PM on 03 Jul 2006,
  • mark wrote:

I totally agree. I've just returned from berlin and the fan mile was fantastic. Got talking to loads of German fans who were great people. This world cup may have changed a lot of attitudes with regard to the english perception of germans. I like watching the germans play! Wish Germany could host every world cup!

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  • 22.
  • At 12:03 AM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • David wrote:

I saw that 1982 Germany-France game and for my money it's the greatest football match ever. No matter what you think of the germans or their football you have to admire their determination and will. Yes ... the french had the better players but after turning the game around being two goals down in overtime I thought the germans deserved to win.
You call the german players of that team "pantomine villains". I think you are just projecting the prejudices you had of germans at that time. These are only starting to change as you see the reality of what Germany and the germans are: regular, mostly very nice, educated people. I for my part (being american) like them a whole lot more than the french. :)

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  • 23.
  • At 12:06 AM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Chris wrote:

Great commentary and I also would like to see Germany lift the trophy in Berlin. As well as making it to the semi-finals after reportedly being one of the worst German sides in recent history winning the World Cup would be fantastic for the united Germany. I only hope that the South African team in four years can have half as good a run through the tournament, then you will really see how football affects society well outside the sphere of it just being a beautiful game.

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  • 24.
  • At 12:22 AM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • SBB wrote:

O Mann! You brought it all back to me! Briegel, Hrubesch, like tanks,cyborgs indeed. The dreadful match against Austria - yep,every German I know shudders at the memory of the "Kaffeekränzchen" (coffee, cake and a chat). But I had forgotten that it was the same year as THAT match against France. And worst of all, I had completely forgotten, nay, I'd go as far as 'blanked out' that atrocious Schumacher foul until I saw it recently on English TV. I'm not at all sure whether I was simply in denial or whether it was played down in the German media. (It could of course be the early onset of Alzheimer's...). Of course, the British media relish such scenes about any of their pet hates whereas they never seem to show any of the wonderful dribbles and goals by Gerd Müller - powerfully illustrated by every young fan of football when, upon the announcement of Ronaldo cracking his goal scoring record, they have to inquire, "Who is he? I've never heard of him!" (Whereas they might well have seen Andy Möller strutting about!) Anyway, clearly it was one of the most dreadful fouls, and an absolute disgrace for German football. (Then again, so was the one committed by a certain Leonardo who seems such a nice guy now...)
Oh, wouldn't it be lovely if we could have a WC without such incidents, without such lousy referee decisions, when we could all agree at the end that the best team won? I'm very happy that despite the disappointment that every outgoing team must feel, the general agreement seems to be that my fellow Germans have been great hosts, and also very happy that the German team has been playing well - for once!! I was in Germany when we won in 1990 but I was so ashamed of their performance against Argentina that I couldn't bring myself to go out and celebrate. Far better to play as well as you possibly can with the lowest number of yellow cards and go out earlier if that's the way the dice fall...

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  • 25.
  • At 12:25 AM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • SBB wrote:

O Mann! You brought it all back to me! Briegel, Hrubesch, like tanks,cyborgs indeed. The dreadful match against Austria - yep,every German I know shudders at the memory of the "Kaffeekränzchen" (coffee, cake and a chat). But I had forgotten that it was the same year as THAT match against France. And worst of all, I had completely forgotten, nay, I'd go as far as 'blanked out' that atrocious Schumacher foul until I saw it recently on English TV. I'm not at all sure whether I was simply in denial or whether it was played down in the German media. (It could of course be the early onset of Alzheimer's...). Of course, the British media relish such scenes about any of their pet hates whereas they never seem to show any of the wonderful dribbles and goals by Gerd Müller - powerfully illustrated by every young fan of football when, upon the announcement of Ronaldo cracking his goal scoring record, they have to inquire, "Who is he? I've never heard of him!" (Whereas they might well have seen Andy Möller strutting about!) Anyway, clearly it was one of the most dreadful fouls, and an absolute disgrace for German football. (Then again, so was the one committed by a certain Leonardo who seems such a nice guy now...)
Oh, wouldn't it be lovely if we could have a WC without such incidents, without such lousy referee decisions, when we could all agree at the end that the best team won? I'm very happy that despite the disappointment that every outgoing team must feel, the general agreement seems to be that my fellow Germans have been great hosts, and also very happy that the German team has been playing well - for once!! I was in Germany when we won in 1990 but I was so ashamed of their performance against Argentina that I couldn't bring myself to go out and celebrate. Far better to play as well as you possibly can with the lowest number of yellow cards and go out earlier if that's the way the dice fall...

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  • 26.
  • At 12:47 AM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • SchwabInBucks wrote:

I know many people said it already, but I would like to say it with my own words: "Fantastic blog! Hit's the nail!". As a South-German living in England for 5 years, this is music to my soul.
Frings have indeed changed here, at least my mindset and attitude towards Anglo-German relationship. Tomorrow, for the first time, we will flag the Black, Red and Golden Banner on Buckinghamshire roads.

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  • 27.
  • At 03:54 AM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • zargorn wrote:

Schumacher's foul was bad. Fouls happen the real disgrace about this one was Schumachers reaction afterwards. He was stretching while the guy he fouled lay there unconcious. Save that foul however I don't think the victory was totally undeserved.

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  • 28.
  • At 06:17 AM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Richard Goodale wrote:

What is all this talk of further football matches at the World Cup? I was under the assumption that the competition ended over the past weekend. Who is this "Germany" anyway? Do they have any players who are or once were in the Premiership? If not, why would anybody care about them?

Confused in Fife

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  • 29.
  • At 06:18 AM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Ted wrote:

germany & england in love with each other, finally, how sweet!, kissy kissy, smooch smooch, lets make love to each other after everybody goes home! stop making me sick, once the world cup is over things will go back to normal, england living in the past, you know, 1966, the time england cheated at home to win it, then the real cup gets stolen in england because they knew they would probably never see it again!
snap out of it!

Oh yeah, I'm sure that the italians forced Fifa to ban frings, they held a super spicey hot salami to fifas head, forced them to do it they did! no question about it, frings is totally 110% innocent of any wrong doing, infact, he should be given a medal for being a top bloke! everyone knows germans are all laughs and great geezers in general, except for a few rotton apples that somehow slipped through, you guys make me laugh, honestly.

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  • 30.
  • At 06:20 AM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Burnman wrote:

Interesting blog. As a canadian of german extraction i also watched France-Germany in '82 but came away with an entirely different point of view: Klaus Fischer's bicycle kick and the ensuing comeback was sublime! Schumacher's foul? My eyes gave him the benefit of the doubt: going hard for the ball--he did get the ball too didn't he? Guess thats how the ref saw it too. I wasn't aware he taunted the fans, but if so i could easily imagine an english player doing likewise in the heat of battle.

I guess i'm just trying to illustrate that football is a bit like religion in that it's just blind faith. We don't follow a denomination or a team because we objectively analyze all the alternatives--most of us are just born into one side or the other. And our viewpoints get skewed accordingly. And given the history of the last century, let's face it: germans have been somewhat difficult to love. But they are just people.

I bet if you sat down with a "Pantomime villain" like a Fischer or a Schumacher over a beer you might even like them. And pictures of "Cyborgs" like Dremmler and Briegel would have undoubtedly adorned you bedroom walls during your youth, had they worn an England jersey.

You're coming around with some refreshing objectivity toward the current German team and that's great. But understand that even a grim-faced Uli Stielike needed a hug now and then!

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  • 31.
  • At 08:19 AM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Princessdideservedit wrote:

Poms Poms Poms. What no singing !!!!! At least with your side out of the cup you can now go and have a nice long bath and bask in your Ashes Ticket success and watch the humiliation of a 5-0 Ashes series defeat, live in Australia !!! It has a nice ring to it 5-0 what with your current capitulation to the powerhouse of World Cricket Sri Lanka !!!!!!!!!!! I hear Alec Stewart has the Ashes buried up his Ramprakash

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  • 32.
  • At 10:29 AM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • bobbylebonfire wrote:

I think bloggers here should have to declare the particular axe they have to grind, bile they want to spill.Ted and the aussie princess (at least we know HIS axe!)They spoil a good blog..whatever brings people together, dispels prejudice is a good thing surely..to the rest, go away!

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  • 33.
  • At 10:39 AM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Hugh Terry wrote:

Best moment for England? Joe Cole's goal vs Sweden.

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Spot on! I was thinking about the German team the other day and realised that for the first time in twenty year or more, I don't hate them any more. Gone is the permed, spitting Rudi Voller, the arrogant, aggresive Mattheus and the diving Klinsmann (who I've conveniently fogiven...).

Even better, I don't hate France anymore so if results go the right way - which they surely must - it's going to be a cracking final. I can't wait.

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  • 35.
  • At 10:52 AM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Ela wrote:

Oh my, Germans force themselves to be nice for a period of 4 weeks and you all love them all of the sudden. Just stay longer and you'll see their true selves. I live in Germany so believe I know what I am talking about.

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  • 36.
  • At 10:53 AM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • aragorn wrote:

Nice blog. But I am never gonna support the germans, simply cause................IM FRENCH. :)
Vive la france!!!!

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  • 37.
  • At 11:06 AM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Anonymous wrote:

Hi there,

as a German, it's very nice to hear that.
It's great that many english fans could see for themselves that those stupid stereotypes are wrong (as they mostly are, about any country).

Most people I know are very fond of hosting the WC and enjoyed greatly to meet a of of people from all over the world in their own home towns.

Too bad you're not in the tournament anymore, it was cruel to watch, as the English side showed a lot of spirit in this game and deserved to win

I was really looking forward to an English-German final (imo one of the greatest classics there is), now I hope to see France as they showed some great football in the last two matches.

Greetings from Stuttgart!

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  • 38.
  • At 11:07 AM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Kai wrote:

Hi there,

as a German, it's very nice to hear that.
It's great that many english fans could see for themselves that those stupid stereotypes are wrong (as they mostly are, about any country).

Most people I know are very fond of hosting the WC and enjoyed greatly to meet a of of people from all over the world in their own home towns.

Too bad you're not in the tournament anymore, it was cruel to watch, as the English side showed a lot of spirit in this game and deserved to win

I was really looking forward to an English-German final (imo one of the greatest classics there is), now I hope to see France as they showed some great football in the last two matches.

Greetings from Stuttgart!

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  • 39.
  • At 11:08 AM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Fra wrote:

not earlier than 2 weeks ago English were singing songs about the bombers of WW2, now you are in love and you admire each other. It is good that English can bury some stereotypes so, maybe, it's time you stop all this nonsense about Italy. Frings was disqualified by FIFA (non the Italian FA) on the basis of a video in which the commission reckons he did something wrong. Is it our fault? wasn'it something that has already happened previously (I remember a couple of cases)? If he did something wrong (and I haven't seen the footage) why shouldn't he be disqualified? Italian football has its troubles at home but I do not think that the Italian FA has so much power to make FIFA bend rules in their favor. You call Klinsmann a diver, but it is somewhat OK 'cos he's German, and you accuse Italy of being the masters of diving? Man, apparently lots of people attended the Italian school of professional diving.....

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  • 40.
  • At 11:16 AM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • hermione08 wrote:

Why should it matter who was responsible for showing the images of Frings punching Cruz?
There was a shameful brawl after the Ger-Arg match and both teams should have been punished by FIFA straight away. Instead, the idiots in charge were as usual afraid to upset the host country and were more than willing to let it all go unpunished.
Shame on FIFA! The tell the refs to take the hard line on the pitch and allow all sort of unsportmanship off it!!!!
If Frings & Co. had been dealt with soon after the brawl happened, it would have cause little surprise and no complaints.
Whatever happens, please let's get rid of that damn Blatter!!!!!

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  • 41.
  • At 11:18 AM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Paul wrote:

Ted and the aussie princess obviously need to get out of bed a bit later - look what time they posted. Or more likely they were up all night downloading 'artistic photographs'. Anyway, completely agree with the above, no matter how sick it makes little ted feel: Germany is the most hospitable country i've ever been in, starting back in 90 watching Roger Waters in Berlin. Top country, top people. Can't say I've ever wanted them to win the World Cup before, but they have played the best football so far, i reckon, and they are playing it fairly. Good luck to Jurgen and the lads tonight!

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  • 42.
  • At 11:18 AM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Susan wrote:

what a delightful thing to read. the atmosphere in germany is incredibly tense in the most positive of ways, the nation is counting down the minutes till 9pm (local time). this match will definitely be one like no other before. germany truly needs this - a bit of confidence - and a bit of well deserved pride after so long. im very proud of the country, and have fingers crossed for tonight.

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  • 43.
  • At 11:21 AM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Jadath wrote:

Ela, if Germans don't get along with you, it might very well be that you are the reason for that and if I may judge you from your entry into this blog, I think that's not too unlikely.

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  • 44.
  • At 11:29 AM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Zidane_le_magnifique wrote:

What a great palyer Zidane i think the best with pele and maradonna.
Allez les bleues et vive La FRANCE championne du monde

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  • 45.
  • At 11:30 AM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • georgm wrote:

Just a few annotations, guys, I hope you don't mind :-) :

@29: Ted, it's never too late to make a start for a change, is it?

@34: Darren, I'm glad your opinion has changed so much about Germany. Just one thing I would like to clarify: I think Voeller was actually spit on by a Dutch player, not vice versa. Voeller has to my knowledge always been a very likeable and non-aggressive player.

@35: Ela, I'm sorry if you've made bad experiences in Germany. I think I know what you're talking about. But like I just said, this tournament might be an actual start to change things. It's another step in the right direction, isn't it?

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  • 46.
  • At 11:34 AM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • lee richardson wrote:

It seems to me that Sven Erickson has a lot to answer for, How could he continualy over 5 years delude the england squad that they were world cup winners. You only have to follow the performances over this period to see that we are not world cup winners.
You cant just simply say that we will get better when it matters, I never bought into this hype and the FA knew deep inside that this was not a winning team but they have to spin it for all its worth in order to maximise revenue from the gullible men whose children will grow up doing the same things in future competions. We may not win the world cup but there is always money to be made.

To see the players in floods of tears afterwoods just shows you what a deluded bunch they are.

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  • 47.
  • At 11:38 AM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Len wrote:

Has anyone noticed that the BBC now thinks the World Cup is over. Who won it then?
Their Reporter, Chris Hollins has been recalled from Germany now that, in his own words, 'The World Cup is over'.
C'mom BBC, spare a thought for the license payers who perhaps are interested in other teams apart from England

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  • 48.
  • At 11:39 AM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Len wrote:

Has anyone noticed that the BBC now thinks the World Cup is over. Who won it then?
Their Reporter, Chris Hollins has been recalled from Germany now that, in his own words, 'The World Cup is over'.
C'mon BBC, spare a thought for the license payers who perhaps are interested in other teams apart from England.

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  • 49.
  • At 11:41 AM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Len wrote:

Has anyone noticed that the BBC now thinks the World Cup is over. Who won it then?
Their Reporter, Chris Hollins has been recalled from Germany now that, in his own words, 'The World Cup is over'.
C'mon BBC, spare a thought for the license payers who perhaps are interested in other teams apart from England.

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  • 50.
  • At 11:51 AM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • lawson65 wrote:

I'm an expat in Germany for 18 months now and my German girlfriend was amazed and a little bit nervous when I bought out my England car flag.

After explaining how big this fairly new tradition is in England, she went on to explain that the Germans would never do that, they are just to scared of showing that kind of nationalism.

Well, this world cup has changed things for them, (for the btter, I feel and it is fantastic being here and witnessing it) as well as changing the stereotypical view of this country and its people, held by most English.

I went to the fan park to watch England v Equador, in the Olmpic Park, Munich and to be honest, I would say 5% of the people there waering English flags and shirts were Germans. Where does that fit into our usual view of this country?

Why is it,our gutter press cannot get passed Krauts, the war and German bomber songs? To be honest, a few of my friends cannot either. We are so insular, a French man will always be a frog, a Spamiard a dago. Maybe it is because we are on an island, at the edge of the continent?

Anyways, these people love the English. I've been supported all the way through as an Englishman in Munich. The proof, I was in france to watch the last game and after we lost received four consolation calls - all from German friends I have known for 18 months.

We have such a superiority complex when it comes to football. Why do we think it is our divine right to win it? Lets be honest, we are a mid-table team who always finishes mid-table.

The English fans remind me of some Leeds fans I knew. They were relegated but were happy because they beat Man Utd that year. Us English are still crowing about beating Germany 5-1, who cares? We won nothing that night. Until we start understanding the difference between being Champions and winning a one-off derby - especially where the other team in question does not consider it a derby - we will win nothing.

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  • 51.
  • At 11:52 AM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • georgm wrote:

Oh, and on Frings:

@39: Fra, I think you're right. Frings was rightly punished although it was actually the Argentiniens who started the provokation.
There are some pictures of the incident, if you're interested, which you can find here.

And I honestly have an awful lot of respect for the Italians.

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  • 52.
  • At 11:54 AM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • caesium wrote:

Interesting to read this Anglo-German love in! Germans should not be fooled, the English did not acquire the French soubriquet "perfide Albion" for nothing.

These are totally false allegations aganst the Italian media by the way. The comments made by the Italian press stem from a suspension of the no less provoked Francesco Totti in Euro 2004. EUFA allowed private Danish film to be used as evidence. He was suspended for 4 games despite an apology! Frings gets a one game suspension for his involvement in a brawl that was sparked by the Germans themselves. Outrageous! No wonder this tournament stinks!

Incidentally Denmark and Sweden fixed a 2-2 draw to eliminate Italy in Euro 2004. What goes around comes around. Denmark failed to make the World Cup and Sweden drew 2-2 with England! Forced to play the hosts, Sweden had a player sent off in 30 minutes and missed a penalty. I wonder what the Italians thought of that?

This whole tournament is biased against Italy and Argentina and always has been. There is anti-Latin bias in general but Italy and Argentina catch most of it and always have done.

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  • 53.
  • At 11:59 AM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Phil wrote:

Great blog!

I suspect all neutral football lovers (if that's not an oxymoron) would like to see a France-Germany final, based purely on performances in this tournament.

(That's not England-fan grudge talking: I'm English but I gave up on the national team when Keegan's perm headed it sideways from six yards in 1982... since when I can't remember them playing two games in a row without looking like 11 men who'd met for the first time that morning.)

Since I have both German and French friends I don't want to indulge in stereotyping here, but *on the whole* I've found the entertainment culture makes it easier to have fun in France for anyone whose horizons extend beyond beer-drinking.

Both nations, though, I find to be friendly and courteous hosts... I suspect it's the same pretty much everywhere for travellers who don't shout louder in English to make the natives understand!

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  • 54.
  • At 12:12 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • ben wrote:

I'm English and I've travelled in Germany a few times, though not very recently. On each occasion I thought the people were generally friendly and helpful, and great countryside and pretty towns aswell. I've long admired German football (and Dutch) -hope they win now.

I think i'm overdue a holiday to Germany...

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  • 55.
  • At 12:16 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • JC wrote:

Thanks for your article Paul! I did not know that at least one englishman share my pain on this very special day. As a frenchman, I'm probably not completely fair about it but this Sevilla game is and always will be THE ultimate football match ever to me. I was only 14 and it was those times when Germany always found a way to win. We almost beat them on this day and I cried all my body's water after the shootout. I also supported Italy during the final (despite the presence of the horrible Gentile) and neither their triumph nor our own victory 16 years later helped me healing this still present sorrow. Today, it's all different. The germans have been fantastic hosts and made a lot on the field to make this WC attractive. I will support them against Italy and if we are lucky enough to be in the final and to beat them, I'll have this strange feeling that we have won the wrong game!!

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  • 56.
  • At 12:17 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Tim Keech wrote:

Nice blog. My Grandad was confused at my excitement about the Germans beating Argentina, he said he doesnt like Germans. Hes 84 so I guess its hard to change an old mans stereotypes and ingrained animosity. For me Having seen the Germans be great hosts I want to go visit the country as I'm sure there is a new genuine Anglo-German kinship. Probably more good feeling between Germans and English at the moment than the English and Scottish.
Hey Richard is Fife where they make bananas? Or is it just sour grapes?

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  • 57.
  • At 12:22 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • ben wrote:

I'm English and I've travelled in Germany a few times, though not very recently. On each occasion I thought the people were generally friendly and helpful, and great countryside and pretty towns aswell. I've long admired German football (and Dutch) -hope they win now.

I think i'm overdue a holiday to Germany...

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  • 58.
  • At 12:50 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • willie wrote:

My attitude to German football was altered forever after regularly watching a wonderfully entertaining Borusia Moenchen-Gladbach team all through the late 60s and 1970s. The talent went right through the teams from Berti Vogts, Gunther Netzer, Jupp Heynckes, Alan Simonsen, yes and even a young Ulli Stielicke. Most of the local soldiers were sufficiently enamoured with them to support them against Liverpool in their epic Uefa and Championship encounters. Your blog makes no mention of the match at Wembley when Netzer and a fine German side lorded it 3 - 1 against a totally negative team produced by an out of date Alf Ramsey. This lesser German side with attacking flair from Lahm and Ballack as well as the two Polski-Germans up front, is getting up to the standard of that team, albeit slowly.
Portugal wouldn't have scored against 9 English - Germany V France Final, please, for the sake of football as we like it!

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  • 59.
  • At 01:00 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • randomwalker wrote:

A pedantic point to begin with: Luis Fernandez got his first cap in November 1982, so you couldn't have seen him in the semi-final in Sevilla. Where you did see him alongside Platini, Giresse and Tigana was in Guadalajarra in the 1986 semi, which Germany won 2-0. I actually think the 1986 German team deserved the title of "cyborgs" much more than the 1982 version. The 1986 variant did very little other than stick 10 men behind the ball (anybody recall their chloroformic performances againts Morocco and Mexico?). Setting aside the shameful display against Austria, the 1982 side did play some relatively attractive football. It's worth pointing out that Patrick Battiston ended up being good buddies with Schumacher, and that both leading French football magazines nominated Schumacher as best goal-keeper in the mid 1980s.

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  • 60.
  • At 01:07 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Franco wrote:

I watch Italian TV and read Italian press daily, strangely enough I first heard of the brawl from BBC News that showed the nasty images right after the Argentina-Germany match.
Accidents can happen but pure violence should not be tolerated. These are professional players and whoever is to blame should be punished regardless of the country he represents! For those of you who forgot, Italian De Rossi has been rightfully banned for four matches for elbowing US Mcbride in the face.
We might be guilty of scandals at home but I don’t honestly think that Italy can twist FIFA in its favour!
I regret that we scored against the fantastic Australians few seconds b4 the end of the match, it would have been nicer to do it in the extra time
and I am also sorry England had to go on penalties, either than that FORZA AZZURI!!!!

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  • 61.
  • At 01:07 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Sachin wrote:

Germany all the way, I am a neutral..the way Germans have conducted the tournament and also played they deserve to be in the finals. Italians are boring...

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  • 62.
  • At 01:30 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • belfegore wrote:

An English friend of mine just recently admitted that ever since Germany beat England way back in Mexico '70 he could not stand watching them – until the 2002 5:1 provided some catharsis.

Of course this came as no surprise, ever since I entered this fair country I was made quite clear to me that Germany only ever won by cheating, diving, penalties and cold-blooded 'efficiency'.

Russian linesmen and spitting Dutchmen were seen as no more than heavenly avengers sent by the football gods to punish us for our all apparent football villainy.

However, 1996 must have been the lowpoint in our footballing relations: Kuntz (hehe) scored, England lost on penalties, Klinsman collected the trophy in Wember-ley and German-built cars all around London got a sound booting.

Alas, something changed in the last few weeks – and now that my friends actually call me before a game to wish us luck I realise that something is missing in my life.

Now that the Portugese have taken the top spot of antagonistic reverence in Englands collective football psychosis I already miss the goading, the ribbing, the jibes, even the insults, hell, it was a whole lot of fun really, and lets face it, even after the 5:1 Germany still made it to the final!

Come on England, let's be enemies again!

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  • 63.
  • At 01:46 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Dinsdale wrote:

@ 34: I understand your dislike for Matthäus (I think most Germans do) but I think Klinsman was able to redeem himself over the last few years of his career.

Also it was not Völler who spat during that disgraceful match against the Netherlands. It was Rijkaard who spat on Völler who got pissed off then and was then sent off the field by the referee. It was so great that the German team won that game for him! Rudi is one of the most liked and well respected footballers in Germany and he never did anyything to warrant any disrespect (although he has been a very uninspired Teamchef).

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  • 64.
  • At 01:59 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • jackie barmy wrote:

poor old Frings !

If FIFA are going down this road, an awful lot of footballers would be blackballed as a result of post match video analysis !

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  • 65.
  • At 02:19 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • anita wrote:

to quote stefano, " too bad frings will not play tomorrow thanks to the italian press. thanks alot guys! :-( "
Why are Italy getting slated for doing something that was done to them four years ago? And nobody batted an eyelid then, when the Danish TV station reported Totti for spitting, resulting in a ban which meant he missed the subsequent defeat. I don't for one minute condone dirty footballing tactics, but if it's ok for one (asking for an investigation), it should be ok for all.

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  • 66.
  • At 02:36 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • luca wrote:

Hi,

where is England? At home, of course, like the last 40 years !!!

And Frings? Frings at home, watching TV after fight against Argentina.
It's been a normal decision from FIFA, not for Italy...but it's to hard to explain you.

So, I can not immagine your face after this evening !!!!

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  • 67.
  • At 02:47 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • mohamed wrote:

Germany will lost against italy today, and the English team will be the best as well, germans had won argentina games with breath out after the argentinan gave them lesson in south amercains football .
thanks to argentina team my best !!!!!

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  • 68.
  • At 02:51 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • mohamed wrote:

thanks indeed my argentine side to gave Germans tough lesson over south amercain football piss off poor old germans

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  • 69.
  • At 02:51 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • luca wrote:

I forgot....about Frings: he isn't Maradona o Pelé o Zidane...he's just a running no-sense man in the middle of the pitch.

nobody will understand that he is missing the match....otherwise, could be better for Germany !!!

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  • 70.
  • At 03:01 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Alex Cavicchioli wrote:

Football or Soccer as we call it in North America is the greatest sport on earth......and to be one game away from the FINALs is incredible....I really believe that Italy will do it.....beat the Germans today and go on.
Germany is too sure of itself....sure they are a great team.....but Italy will be better.
Viva l`Italia

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  • 71.
  • At 03:05 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Fred wrote:

Hi,
I think it's been a tremendous World Cup and it's good to see that the World Cup has contributed a great deal to overcome prejudices of bygone days. When I was a German language assistant in Doncaster in the 1970s the Germans were still stigmatised for their war history and even football has always been seen in that light (see rainbow press)
But thank goodness many Englishmen have now had the chance to experience German's real image of friendliness, hospitality and enthusiasm for all the visiting football sides.

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It was the first time the world could see the all out football by Hungary but Germany won in the final with their power football that was an end of Hungarian glory in the world cup history. In this world cup Germany has been seen that they are out of their traditional football as they showed some art by Ballack, Klose. Now Italy and France are in the race of winning championship who were struggle in their group match. It cannot be said that another 1982 will not be staged in Germany that will bear another Italian glory. Germany, no doubt, is favorite at this moment as they are in full pace and their host identity will speed up their confidence. Portugal is the only team in the race who never get the taste of the world cup. They will not want to lose it.

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  • 73.
  • At 04:02 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Wilfredo wrote:

I went out to Gelsenkirchen at the weekend and cannot speak highly enough of the organisation. We were allowed to camp for free in a large area near the town centre where the Germans and English happily mixed. The parking was also free, as was the public transport laid on to the Fan Park. Even the beer at the Fan Park was a reasonable price. I just dread to think how royally we would be ripping off everyone if this was taking place in England.

The only bother I saw was with a few people taking issue with press sticking lenses in their faces when England had just lost - and one could argue this violence was justifiable.

The pond-life England fans wearing army helmets and being offensive could be counted on one hand - thanks in part to the vast majority of England fans reminding these folk of what a sad parody they have become.

But no matter what great changes we have seen, the Italians will always cheat and I look forward to a good trouncing of them tonight by our Neue Brudern

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  • 74.
  • At 05:02 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Dominik wrote:

Great blog. And the commentaries here, not surprisingly, are much more mature and knowledgeable than on the CNN/SI blog. I think that's despite all the animosity between England and Germany, the English are giving their due if necessary. Not surprisingly since they invented the concept of fairness.

I am glad you enjoyed the WC. A pity your team couldn't make it to the final. Imagine: Germany vs. England, fourty years after the final at Wembley. Now that would have been something! And who knows, maybe a great game could have put the spectre of the "Wembley goal" to rest...

But whoever makes it to the final, it's going to be a big party and hopefully a good game.

I hope your team will rebound from this disappointment and we will see a different squad at Euro 2008.

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  • 75.
  • At 05:12 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Marcello wrote:

Fifa banned Frings because he was involved in a fight.

Neither the italian press, nor the italian media asked him to be involved.

It is also known fact that it was not the italians who asked FIFA to suspend Frings.

German tv channels showed the incident many-many times and the FIFA had to investigate the incident because of that.

aufwiedersehen

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  • 76.
  • At 06:11 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Neil wrote:

I think there is only one outcome for this World Cup and that is a France win. France will demolish Germany in the final. It will only be about how many the French will score.

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  • 77.
  • At 06:20 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Jon wrote:

Hey Luca , perche' non impari bene l'inglese prima di dire cazzate?

You'll lose this evening, you are a nation of cheats.....or should I say Moggis?

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  • 78.
  • At 06:38 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Adrian wrote:

Well, the so called German spirit, friendliness and fair play is very sadly lacking in their newspapers I'm afraid. Bild and Der Spoegel have been printing scandalous racist headlines these last few days, They habe called Italians 'parasites', 'vermin', 'spaghetti mafia'. Today they called for a boycott of pizza because they're miffed that Frings got caught hitting Cruz and getting a well-deserved suspension. I think Fabio Cannavaro summed it up perfectly when asked about this boycott...he said "They don't want to eat pizza? Their loss...they don't know what they're missing"! They can always stick to their haute-cuisine Sauerkraut and sausages I suppose...mmmmm
It's the usual story...Germans think they're gods and it's their right to be in the final no matter what. Let's hope they're proven wrong, to vindicate the thousands of Italians working in germany who have been treated like s**t all these years.

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  • 79.
  • At 06:41 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Adrian wrote:

Jon

perhaps you forget the refereeing scandal in germany a few months ago.....perhaps you forget the bribery scandal of Grobelaar and all the rest some years ago....

Credo che sarebbe meglio guardarsi intorno prima di scagliare la prima pietra...

a nation of cheats? always better than a nation of killers.

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  • 80.
  • At 06:46 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Michael H wrote:

Regarding Frings and italian TV showing the clips...

what would the English TV and press do if they were in Italy's spot? What would the French media do? What would the Senegalese media do? Everybody would do the same. Don't blame the media for something that Frings did. Don't blame Ronaldo for something Rooney did. Each person should be held responsible for their actions.

FIFA would not have been credible if Frings was not punished especially because he plays for the host team. Germans will be better off winning without him and the suspicion of host nation favoritism... having said that, Italy wins 2-1.

Forza Italia

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  • 81.
  • At 08:04 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • DIMPLES wrote:

Enjoyed reading your script but have to make a correction call me fastidous if you like. African-Germans? more to the point Ghanaian-Germans yes and link that to the talent displayed by the Ghanaians

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  • 82.
  • At 08:31 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Frings wrote:

a) Italy wins.
b) Some frustrated German kicks Gattuso in the groin.
c) Watching how the Italians react.
d) Counting the Italians who will be allowed to play the final when FIFA applies same logical rules again.

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  • 83.
  • At 08:35 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Michael wrote:

Adrian, your comments are out of order and you should be ashamed of yourself.

A nation of killers? Do you say I'm a killer?

What do you know about Italian workers in Germany?

You should learn not to generalise as reality is much more complex than you think.

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  • 84.
  • At 08:46 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

Here's to a Portugal - Germany final.
An obvious inspiration to many other aspiring nations when Portugal reach the final.As the apparent outsider of the remaining four teams, they are obviously relishing the relative "no chance" opinions of the international media, where as Germany, deservedly, have the support of all but a few.
Excluding the fickle bias of the English media and some of the England fans, true neutrals will see this final as an opportunity for a new name to be added to the not so long list of winners.How refreshing.
Italy or France? Yawn...No Thanks!

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  • 85.
  • At 01:56 AM on 05 Jul 2006,
  • emeric wrote:

it's sooooooooooooooo good to send off Germany... Yes, Frings really have changed, 10 years ago, Germany would never have lost such a game...ha ha ha!!!

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  • 86.
  • At 08:06 AM on 05 Jul 2006,
  • belfegore wrote:

see? Told you Englanders not to root for Germany, you fr-inxed us!

Great game, well done Italia, and we had pizza anyway :)

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  • 87.
  • At 11:32 AM on 05 Jul 2006,
  • neiljwd wrote:

I hope you do read this messages Paul, as I'd just like to say this blog has been fantastica all through the WC. And the only one I've read for the last 2 weeks.

Entertaining, informative and charming with personality. Excellent.

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  • 88.
  • At 11:49 AM on 05 Jul 2006,
  • Gwynfor Williams wrote:

Rooney's Red Card

what everyone seems to forget. Forget the actual foul and the intent by Ronaldo to get Wayne sent off,what fifa should be looking at is that twice before the sending off instance Cristano Ronaldo twice went up and head butted Wayne from behind I don't see fifa or anyone else bringing that to anyone's attention and i feel that's as much violent conduct as the foul he was sent off for ???

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  • 89.
  • At 12:25 PM on 06 Jul 2006,
  • Nick Frydas wrote:

"ODONKOR is not Karl-Heinz RUMMENIGKE!!"

I beg to differ with Paul Armstrong's editorial of 3rd of July and feel justified by the result of the semi-final against Italy. Despite the recent and unprecedent pro-German sentiments in the English press and amongst sport commentators, having been an avid German fan for the last 36 years, I can unequivocably state that this was the worst German Team ever fielded with the possible exception of the 2000 European Cup!! The simple reason being that this team had not a single player of world class and/or the character and personality required to inspire confidence, leadership and to lift his teammates. Never before even at its darkest moments German Football was so devoid of talent, even the very average team fielded by R. Voeller in 2002 enjoyed such an advantage in the person of M Ballack and eventually lost the final in which he did not play (Ballack was a non event in 2006).

Furthermore Mr. Armstrong's selective memory falsified historical footballing events and I feel obliged to restore below the truth for the benefit of his audience and football fans.

There is no doubt that Germany never played the most attactive football that there was or is, neither has ever England, as football is the projection of the psyche and the character of a nation and clearly both countries do not have a lead in what is termed as "artistic fantasy". Nevertheless whoever is following international football, cannot deny without doing history an unjustice, that Germany has consistently been at the very top of the international league. Germany has exhibited the strongest character, resilience and confidence and ultimate belief in victory than any other national team I have observed over the last 36 years.

To refresh Mr. Armstrong's selective memory regarding talent and events (let's not linger only on Schumacher) I will do a brief journey through the time starting in 1970 when the Germany of Uwe Zeeler and Gunther Netzer came third in the World Cup after defeating England and losing to the Italians 4:3 in extra-time when Beckenbauer was playing with broken arm. Two short years later the Germany of Overat and Grabowski won the European Cup after defeating England in Wembley. In 1974 Vogts, Gerd Mueller, Hoeness and al won the World Cup against an admittedly superb Holland. However it was a straight clean victory in the final there were no controversial decisions like England's third goal in 1966 from what I seem to remember. Another major tournament another major appearance by Germany in 1976 European Cup in Belgrade. Many players had left the world champions since 1974 but still there were the Hansi Muellers and the Claus Allofs to win 4-2 the hosts in the semi-final (equalising on the 90th min the lead of 2-0 of Yugoslavia) before succumbing to the penalty shoot-out to the Czechs in the final (after again equalising 2-2 on the 90th minute). Mr. Armstrong seems to forget that it took his vaunted Holland a late equaliser in the 86th minute in the 1978 World Cup to put them and not Germany in the final against Argentina. What about 1980 European Cup with Bernd Schuster, K-H Rummenigke generation? Winners again after defeating Holland 3-2 (to which they led 3-0 at one stage). Again 2 years later in 1982 with Breitner and Stielicke at al they reached the final of the World Cup after drawing with England but also defeating the hosts Spain (something that England failed to do)and deservedly lost to the Italians. Mr Armstrong seems to remember the dramatic semi-final vs France for the Schumacher-Batiston incident. For me the seminal moment of my entire sporting life came when in extra time and being 3-1 down an injured Karl Heiz Rummenigke was brought in as a substitute and made this famous gesture to his teammates; "Come on. We can still get them!!" And so they did with the fantastic overhead kick of Klaus Fischer after Rummenigke has also scored. Character, resilience, confidence, not for Mr. Armstrong, he only saw Battiston in the entire game. Come 2 years later in the European Cup in France, Germany was put out on the first round after a Spanish goal on the 93 minute and after they had previously hit 3 times the posts. In the World Cup in 1986 again Germany in the final (after crushing France 2-0 in semi final) and Voeller and Andy Moeller lost 3-2 to Maradona' Argentina (again equalising against a 2-0 lead). In 1988 and in the European Cup in Germany they lost in the semi-fianl to Holland by a "penalty in the 85th minute seen and devised only by the referee" the only ever defeat of Germany by Holland I seem to remember and the only time this "superb" team has ever claimed a major title. Come 1990 the Germany of Brehme,Mattheus and Klinsmann won the World Cup and again two years later they were in the final of the European Cup losing to Denmark. In the USA World Cup of 1994 big disappointment but still some talent (Andy Moeller et al) which won them in 1996 the European Cup in England while in 1998's World Cup in France they lost early and sure signs of decline have been demonstrated. In the European Cup of 2000 perhaps their worst ever performance they were eliminated early and again resilience and confidence were the strenghts of the very average team of 2002 which reached the final of the World Cup in Tokyo. Two times World Cup winners, another 3 times runners-up, and another three more times placed in the first 4 in the World cup, three times winner of the European Cup and two more times runners up in the last 36 years! The record speaks for itself!

The difference Mr. Armstrong between the English fan (or as a matter of fact the Dutch) and the German fan is that the latter gets to see his team so much more and further.........

But hellas for Klinsmann, it is clear there is no more talent in Germany, the talent in abundance that made them the "unattractive "winners"......

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  • 90.
  • At 12:28 PM on 06 Jul 2006,
  • Nick Frydas wrote:

"ODONKOR is not Karl-Heinz RUMMENIGKE!!"

I beg to differ with Paul Armstrong's editorial of 3rd of July and feel justified by the result of the semi-final against Italy. Despite the recent and unprecedent pro-German sentiments in the English press and amongst sport commentators, having been an avid German fan for the last 36 years, I can unequivocably state that this was the worst German Team ever fielded with the possible exception of the 2000 European Cup!! The simple reason being that this team had not a single player of world class and/or the character and personality required to inspire confidence, leadership and to lift his teammates. Never before even at its darkest moments German Football was so devoid of talent, even the very average team fielded by R. Voeller in 2002 enjoyed such an advantage in the person of M Ballack and eventually lost the final in which he did not play (Ballack was a non event in 2006).

Furthermore Mr. Armstrong's selective memory falsified historical footballing events and I feel obliged to restore below the truth for the benefit of his audience and football fans.

There is no doubt that Germany never played the most attactive football that there was or is, neither has ever England, as football is the projection of the psyche and the character of a nation and clearly both countries do not have a lead in what is termed as "artistic fantasy". Nevertheless whoever is following international football, cannot deny without doing history an unjustice, that Germany has consistently been at the very top of the international league. Germany has exhibited the strongest character, resilience and confidence and ultimate belief in victory than any other national team I have observed over the last 36 years.

To refresh Mr. Armstrong's selective memory regarding talent and events (let's not linger only on Schumacher) I will do a brief journey through the time starting in 1970 when the Germany of Uwe Zeeler and Gunther Netzer came third in the World Cup after defeating England and losing to the Italians 4:3 in extra-time when Beckenbauer was playing with broken arm. Two short years later the Germany of Overat and Grabowski won the European Cup after defeating England in Wembley. In 1974 Vogts, Gerd Mueller, Hoeness and al won the World Cup against an admittedly superb Holland. However it was a straight clean victory in the final there were no controversial decisions like England's third goal in 1966 from what I seem to remember. Another major tournament another major appearance by Germany in 1976 European Cup in Belgrade. Many players had left the world champions since 1974 but still there were the Hansi Muellers and the Claus Allofs to win 4-2 the hosts in the semi-final (equalising on the 90th min the lead of 2-0 of Yugoslavia) before succumbing to the penalty shoot-out to the Czechs in the final (after again equalising 2-2 on the 90th minute). Mr. Armstrong seems to forget that it took his vaunted Holland a late equaliser in the 86th minute in the 1978 World Cup to put them and not Germany in the final against Argentina. What about 1980 European Cup with Bernd Schuster, K-H Rummenigke generation? Winners again after defeating Holland 3-2 (to which they led 3-0 at one stage). Again 2 years later in 1982 with Breitner and Stielicke at al they reached the final of the World Cup after drawing with England but also defeating the hosts Spain (something that England failed to do)and deservedly lost to the Italians. Mr Armstrong seems to remember the dramatic semi-final vs France for the Schumacher-Batiston incident. For me the seminal moment of my entire sporting life came when in extra time and being 3-1 down an injured Karl Heiz Rummenigke was brought in as a substitute and made this famous gesture to his teammates; "Come on. We can still get them!!" And so they did with the fantastic overhead kick of Klaus Fischer after Rummenigke has also scored. Character, resilience, confidence, not for Mr. Armstrong, he only saw Battiston in the entire game. Come 2 years later in the European Cup in France, Germany was put out on the first round after a Spanish goal on the 93 minute and after they had previously hit 3 times the posts. In the World Cup in 1986 again Germany in the final (after crushing France 2-0 in semi final) and Voeller and Andy Moeller lost 3-2 to Maradona' Argentina (again equalising against a 2-0 lead). In 1988 and in the European Cup in Germany they lost in the semi-fianl to Holland by a "penalty in the 85th minute seen and devised only by the referee" the only ever defeat of Germany by Holland I seem to remember and the only time this "superb" team has ever claimed a major title. Come 1990 the Germany of Brehme,Mattheus and Klinsmann won the World Cup and again two years later they were in the final of the European Cup losing to Denmark. In the USA World Cup of 1994 big disappointment but still some talent (Andy Moeller et al) which won them in 1996 the European Cup in England while in 1998's World Cup in France they lost early and sure signs of decline have been demonstrated. In the European Cup of 2000 perhaps their worst ever performance they were eliminated early and again resilience and confidence were the strenghts of the very average team of 2002 which reached the final of the World Cup in Tokyo. Two times World Cup winners, another 3 times runners-up, and another three more times placed in the first 4 in the World cup, three times winner of the European Cup and two more times runners up in the last 36 years! The record speaks for itself!

The difference Mr. Armstrong between the English fan (or as a matter of fact the Dutch) and the German fan is that the latter gets to see his team so much more and further.........

But hellas for Klinsmann, it is clear there is no more talent in Germany, the talent in abundance that made them the "unattractive "winners"......

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@45 Sorry, my mistake. Rudy Voeller was indeed the spittee and not the spitter. It must have been his perm I didn't like then!

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