As I write this piece, I'm still busy thinking of ways, of watching Germany play Spain LIVE! on TV i.e. I must accept that I've never been too much of a soccer fan all my life, and my sudden love for the game doesn't impress my folks much, which means I've to do lots and lots of persuading to be allowed to switch on the TV set at midnights and disturb the peace loving people's sleep with my cheers and catcalls.
When it comes to European soccer, Spain's artistic prowess is beyond doubt, France's resolve in the face of uneven resources is admirable, England's high profile stars letting them down at just the moment is hilarious, Croatia's build up is as spectacular as their sudden ouster is not, Turkey's own surprise at how we got here is dainty, Russia's rise is indication of the future, but my favourites are always going to be the Germans.
My liking for the the so called powerhouse of European football dates back to the 1998 WC, just how they didn't get to go all the way through is was always a mystery for me then, given my scant understanding of the game, in a cricket crazy environment, where incidentally I didn't consider myself a bad batsman either. It was only at the next WC in South Korea /Japan, that I began understanding the game better, when I was given the responsibility to report for my school magazine. The main problem with my way of seeing the game was, and in fact still continues to this day is that I compare each and everything happening on a and off the field to a supposed Indian National team - be it the player's average heights, their jersey designs, material and texture of the fabric use (YES!) their shoes, fan following, the surface they get to play on, the training facilities, and of course the stamina. And if you happen to compare the Indian team(s) (considering the fact that some of the Indian clubs play better than the National team on a given day) with the Germans on the last count... well the only thing you end up doing is... adore the latter.
They are tall, strong, built tough, and look tougher, of course until they go down wincing dramatically seeking a booking for an opponent... even that seems well... flattering.
they play till the last whistle, Philip Lahm's 90th min. goal vs. the Turks emphasizing the fact all the more.
And the best thing about being a German supporter... you know your team isn't invincible... they're going to lose some, are going to win some more... but they'd still be where you finally want to see them... out of the group stage, and possibly the final. Take the 2002 WC, where they weren't all that impressive throughout the tourney but still went on to be the runners-up, and could very well have been the winners, had captain Oliver Kahn not run into the law of averages and conceded those now famous 2 goals to Brazil. I still dream of making an oil painting of Kahn sitting by goal post at the end of the match and sobbing, the caption? hmmm. "The Final Frontier". They are a dramatic team I told you.
On to today's final...
They say its artistic brilliance, deft touch and possibly form in the shape of Spain vs. brute force in the form of Ballack's army. So what's the problem? I for one don't watch soccer as a substitute for opera. That probably ended with the era of Maradona and I have to get hold of some old videos to watch soccer art. And they don't even serve artistic brilliance at even the Wimbledon these days. So, as far as I can see... Germany its gonna be!