Why? What's to like about soccer?
There's just enough
violencecontact that players sometimes have to get dragged or carried off the field, bloody or broken, but not so much as in hockey, where I have to watch with my hands over my eyes, peeking through my fingers.
There are NO TIME OUTS. The clock keeps going and going like the Energizer Bunny. Therefore...
There are also NO COMMERCIAL BREAKS! Before and after the game the host channel loads you up with ads for shampoo, razors, and fancy cars, but during game time, no interruptions. Therefore...
If you know when the game starts, you know within minutes of when it will end. Yes, there's overtime which could possibly lead to Elfmeterschießen (penalty shoot-out), but it doesn't happen terribly often at this level and I've lost interest by then anyway.
The guys are fit as hell because they have to be ready to run their fool asses off for 90+ minutes with nary a water break. Because it's blazing hot in southern Brazil, I did see one game in which the players were given a "cooling break" in each half, but that was only to prevent them from dying on the field.
The coach of the U.S. national team - Jürgen Klinsmann - is a German, from Swabia, whom I first became familiar with during the 2006 World Cup.
The coach of the German national team - Joachim Löw - is a Swabian. See a pattern here? We can do more than Kehrwoche and Spätzle...
Klose. Yep. 36-year-old Miroslav "Opa" Klose. Love him. When asked if he is starting to feel too old for this, he replied, "Noch habe ich keine Ermüdungserscheinungen, und deswegen schleppe ich meinen Kadaver ein bisschen durch." ("So far I have no signs of fatigue, so therefore I'll drag my corpse across the field a little longer.")
And Manuel Neuer, our goalie. He is a BEAST! There are seriously no words for how insanely impressive that guy is in (and out of) his goalie territory.
We watched all the games at home and alone (well, with each other) as well. My younger fellow expat bloggers tried out public viewings, bars with TVs, and Biergartens, and even though we live within a 45-minute walk of "Deutschlands beliebtester Biergarten" overlooking the Neckar valley, we prefer the quiet of our living room for soccer viewing. It's not just that we're in our 40s and too old for that much excitement, but also it's easier for me to ask all the questions I need to ask and make the comments I need to make during a match.
"Wait, why didn't that goal count?"
"Ahhh...Offsides again. Right. And what is that again?"
"Ha, here comes Götze. He's a little cutie, isn't he?"
"Oh God! All that blood! Müller's face is covered with blood!"
"The little boy accompanying Lahm onto the field is nearly as tall as LAHM is!"
"What the hell is happening?!? Is this a replay, or did he score again?"
"Well, that's a strange trophy, don't you think? It looks like a couple fruit bats holding up a shot put ball."When my husband steps outside to check the weather, I suspect it may be more a break from the frequent chatter. But he doesn't complain, and he patiently answers my questions. Sadly, he stepped out for five minutes during the game against Brazil, and he missed two goals!
I even enthusiastically watched games Germany wasn't even playing in. I finally understood how and why other games in the tournament are important. Ok, if I totally didn't care about either team, I read a book while glancing up when the announcer got excited, but still I learned a lot about soccer during these last few weeks. I was even actually able to successfully explain offside/offsides to my parents, who had never watched a soccer game until this year. I still can't see offsides as it's occurring or in slow-motion replays, but in still shots with the fancy lines drawn showing where everyone was at the moment the ball was kicked, then I can see it if they leave it on the screen long enough.
If you didn't watch the match against Brazil, you missed a game that will go down in history. There were at least ten records shattered that day and no one in Germany (or Brazil, for that matter) could believe what was happening. Your kids or grandkids will be answering Trivial Pursuit questions about that game in future editions.
I could not re-cap the individual games nearly as well as a fellow expat blogger did, so if you want to read more about an American's thoroughly entertaining impression of this year's thrilling WM, read this blog post. Even Martin laughed while reading!
Now we all have to figure out what to do with ourselves after 31 days of almost non-stop soccer. But for now, I just heard that the team plane is going to do an Ehrenrunde (victory fly-over) over the fan mile in Berlin at a relatively low altitude before it lands, which sounds like a really cool but somewhat unwise idea, and I don't want to miss that.
'Til next time...