The case for England fans supporting Germany in tonight’s semi final (posted yesterday…by accident)
Mesut Özil ripped apart England’s under 21s a year ago
Sitting, inconsolable, in the aftermath of England’s 4-1 mauling at the hands of Germany, I started to wonder how good watching the game must’ve been for anyone supporting Die Mannschaft, and for that matter how good supporting the German national team must be at most tournaments – what with their record of nine semi-finals in the last twelve World Cups and all. As initially self-defeating as that sounds, it actually led me to quite the epiphany – you don’t have to be German to support the Germans.
Supporting someone at tournaments, however tenuous the link used to justify that support, always makes it more fun. Once you accept that then the next step is deciding who you’re weighing in behind. Here’s why it should be Germany:
Long term, I, and indeed we, are stuck with the Three Peons. But for the remainder of this World Cup at least we’re entirely free of the intrinsic restrictions that are the nationalities we’re lumbered with – and therefore free to pick a team. Free to pick our favourite. And if you’re as sick of losing as I am: free to pick the favourite.
For me that favourite is Germany on all counts. The Team, as they’re brilliantly known, is filled with creative sparks like Mesut Özil and Thomas Mueller, their counter-attacking instincts have out-shone even Spain’s tiki taka, and they look a strong bet for the title*. In short Germany are the perfect second team (if only they could be our first).
Unconvinced? “Thou art a traitor” you say? I understand that for the unsophisticated English pallet Germany will always be the old enemy, but surely for true devotees of the beautiful game – such as myself, of course – World Cups are about appreciating the subtleties and artistry of some of the best teams in the world, not ingraining stereotypes and insisting on maintaining out-dated rivalries.
In fact, even for the unsophisticated pallet the German’s have something to offer – something to appeal to a quintessentially English value system. For we need to remember that the Germans began the World Cup, as hard as it is to believe now, as underdogs. Their own fans wrote them off and the bookies had eyes only for their average qualifying campaign, which had two draws, and friendly losses to Argentina and England.
Die Mannschaft’s fight ‘against the odds’ surely has to earn your admiration. Not only because it requires an unwavering level of mental fortitude, but because the success that they have attained is built on everything that you would hope success be built on. Paul Hayward’s excellent article, looking at the fundamentals behind their consistently exceptional performances since Euro 2000, identifies the DFB’s careful and efficient investment in youth football as key to the results which are coming now. Satisfyingly, then, their on-field art appears to be the product of oh-so-logical craft.
Furthermore, Germany’s systematic approach to youth development provides hope for the future of English football – because it is proof positive that things can change if the right decisions and investments are made. For this as well as the aesthetically superior brand of football that Özil, Mueller and co have offered us over the past three weeks, the Germans deserve our support tonight. If you can’t – and we definitely can’t – beat them, join them.
*Of course, Germany are now well-and-truly jinxed.
I accidentally put this up yesterday…
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