THAT, for the non German speaking amongst you, means “Get up if you’re supporting Germany!”
Well I am most certainly up, and thanks to a ridiculously complicated random draw on The Anfield Wrap that I still don’t really understand, I am supporting Germany.
I was pleased to get Germany – German football is great – and so I attacked it with gusto.
I looked into buying the greatest international kit of all time, the Germany 1990 home shirt, but it appears to cost £120.
A fair price for such a thing of beauty, and a kit so good it’s almost unfair on other kits (their away shirt was also great that year, but who cares about that), but more money than I really wanted to be spending.
So I bought the new home shirt (complete with Euro 2012 badges), I promised to drink solely German lager for the entirety of the championships (something that will almost certainly be scaled down to just during Germany matches), I put on my Scorpions records and I decorated my walls with posters of Heidi Klum.
I was all set
Well almost, as I didn’t have a huge amount of knowledge about the actual football.
Yeah I know the stuff everyone else knows, but you deserve better than that, and besides other people had already starting writing stuff that was really really good (damn you Twisted Blood).
I tweeted Sean Dundee for an interview but didn’t get a reply. However, other Germans came through for me in a big way.
I sent a tweet out and received a reply from the fantastically named Timo Zimmer, a LFC fan from the Rhineland, and an Englishman living in Germany called Alex Hubbard who both sent me loads of great stuff almost immediately.
A charming lady called Martha Anne emailed me ten times in two days, with not just football information but links to some great Kraut-Rock.
And a school friend living in Hamburg called Si Littler then sent through the views of his office, complete with mood swings after disappointing friendly performances.
Finally @JohnnyMilburn arranged for me to have lunch with a ridiculously handsome German called Gregor Simmer who just happened to be in Liverpool for a Beautiful Man Convention (I assume).
All this happened with typical German efficiency and very quickly. So, in true British style, I did nothing with it all and went on holiday for a week and now I’m writing it up at the last minute.
All discussions took place separately but I am going to pretend we are all in a beer garden, in Munich, being served Steins by Heidi Klum.
All agreed that the mood in Germany was one of optimism, albeit in a low key German sort of way, as a result of good performances in previous tournaments, a perfect qualifying campaign (winning all 10 qualifying games and scoring more than 3 goals a game in the process) and a squad that had grown together over the last four years, supplemented with a few exciting youngsters.
Although someone else knocking Spain out would be most welcomed. Whilst Germany have lots of talented players, as always it was thought that “the power is in the team” and that Germany were the ultimate “tournament team”. Despite having eight Bayern players in the squad, the Champions League final loss was not seen as an issue. In fact Gregor felt “It might be a positive, as they will be more determined with something to prove”
Timo called the positive thinking “a gift that Jogi Loew made the German people”. I can’t wait to see the gift Hodgson makes for us. Martha enthused wildly on Loew saying “I personally would say that his brain is quite similar to Rafa’s. He knows what matters during the tournament, he knows how to make his players do much above their natural skills, how to use their talent and ability and cover what has to be covered. He looks kind of cold, people can express it as ‘typical cold German banker!’ but he is quite charismatic”
Si spoke about how everyone seemed to be behind the German team, in stark contrast to in England which people over in Germany couldn’t understand. There wasn’t the dislike for Bayern players, for example, that we might have for players from other clubs. However Gregor joked that if they got knocked out “you might blame the players from another club”. Martha said no one would want Germany to win more than Angela Merkel, as it may distract everyone from economic and Euro-Zone problems and she might win another election.
Neuer from Bayern Munich is obviously the main man, even after what Gregor called “A bit of a sorry season”. Ter Stergen let in five goals against Switzerland and was then promptly left out of the 23, which was somewhat of a surprise, although it was unlikely he would have seen any action anyway. Having failed his audition, Loew has gone with experience instead with Adler and Wiese
There were some concerns about a (admittedly makeshift) defence that had recently leaked five goals to the Swiss. Lahm and Hummels were highly thought of, but there were worries in particular about Mertesacker who it was felt hadn’t had a great year at Arsenal and hadn’t played much because of injury in 2012. The consensus seemed to favour starting Badsturber alongside Hummels ahead of Mertesacker, but Mertesacker started both of the warm up games and was feared to get the nod, much to the exasperation of all.
The midfield was seen as Germany’s main strength with Alex Hubbard enthusing that the “depth in midfield is outstanding, with a great blend of holding players like Kheidra and attacking players like Gotze and Kroos. They’re strength will be using the ball quickly and the fluidity of their attacking line.”
Ozil was expected to perform well again after a great 2010 World Cup. Timo felt we should look out for Reus of Monchengladbach who “can make an impact as a sub. Brilliant on the ball, a quick and intelligent player” and also enthused about Thomas Muller: “He does so many things right per instinct on the pitch, I just love his style of play.”
Obviously Schweinsteiger was also seen as a key man with great experience, and they were relieved that he seemed to be fit to play. Podolski’s difference in form between club and country was discussed with intrigue, but he has 43 goals for Germany now and, as Martha pointed out, a birthday during Euro 2012.
I expressed a surprise that Germany had only gone for three strikers (including Podolski) in their 23, but as they only play with one up top, and with attacking midfielders like Schurrle and Muller who can all play up front if needed, this was not seen as a concern.
It was also deemed unlikely that they would abandon their favoured shape if things were not going to plan with so many goals from midfield, so the English solution of throwing more strikers at a problem was not thought to be in Loew’s mind.
To start it was a straight shoot out between Klose and Gomez, with the consensus being that Klose would get the start due to his big match experience (and 63 international goals in 115 appearances). However Gomez started and scored in the last friendly so it may be a tough decision for Loew.
As Heidi brought us Stein’s into the night my new friends talked about the most exciting time for German football they had known, and what this young squad could potentially achieve together not just at this tournament but over the next few years.
It may have been the high strength lager, it may have been the perfect summer night, or it may have been that I had been staring into Gregor’s eyes for far too long, but I was giddy and I was onboard.
As Martha said “It’s their time, right here, right now, they can do it”. I’m getting up. I’m supporting Germany. Ich bin ein Berliner.
Special Thanks to
Timo Zimmer (@mobtheater), Martha Anne (@Lady_in_redd), Alex Hubbard (@Alexhubbard1991), Gregor Simmer and Simon Littler
Now let us all join in with the German Official Anthem of Euro 2012