Moving on, and hopefully back to the daily thing at the least, we will stumble upon Germany. I am going to be very honest. I hate the German national team. Not the country, not the players (when they are not playing for Germany), not the fans. I am sure you will learn about the reasons for this deserved revulsion soon enough. But, do not expect anything that looks unbiased or even positive for this team.
Yes, they are at a funeral. They are remembering the tortured and mutilated teams that they left in their wake.
Defenders: Holger Badstuber (Bayern Munich), Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Benedikt Howedes (FC Schalke 04), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Marcel Schmelzer (Borussia Dortmund), Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich), Per Mertesacker (Arsenal).
Midfielders : Lars Bender (Bayer 04 Leverkusen), Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich), Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich), Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid), Sami Khedira (Real Madrid), Marco Reus (VfL Borussia Monchengladbach), Andre Schurrle (Bayer 04 Leverkusen), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich), Mario Gotze (Borussia Dortmund), Ilkay Gundogan (Borussia Dortmund).
Welcome to Group B, the Group of Death. The death represents Germany
(You can click on the nation to see the previous posts)
Germany have a very, very, very, very, very long history of destroying people's dreams. Most of Germany's triumphs came through West Germany, the non-communist side of a Germany that was split up after World War II. East Germany might has well not have existed. They only played their western neighbors once, a symbolic move that they won. There also was a third, German team. the Saarland national team emerged from the French administered section of West Germany. As expected, they sucked. After serving a ban from sports because of WWII (I choose not to rub that one in their face) until 1950, Germany came out as a major player in the international scene.
West Germany won their first major in 1954. It was in instance where they robbed an inspired Hungary team led by Ferenc Puskás, a soccer legend. The Magical Magyars were the hands down favorites after going undefeated for 32 games in a row. The Magyars had actually thrashed the Germans 8-3 in the group stage, along with the two finalists from the previous World Cup, Brazil and Uruguay, during the knockout rounds. However, the Germans decided to be underhanded. They effectively threw the group game against he Olympic and European Champions by fielding a reserve team to hide their true strength. In the final, Germany had an important advantage- their Adidas shoes. That day, the field was drenched from the pounding rain. The Germans adapted by using their brand-new cleats: shoes made with cleats that could be screwed off and replaced with ones better suited for the weather. Hungary, of course, did not had access to this. That said, Hungary took a 2-0 lead within the first 8 minutes. Germany equalized. Despite an onslaught of Magyar attack, the German defense stood organized while their keeper played magnificently. Germany would find the winning goal to upset the best team in the world. Now, I'm sure you have noticed that there isn't any real controversy in this description of the game. But don't worry, here it comes. The Germans may very well have been drugged for success. It is very possible, and perhaps even likely, that they were given methamphetamine right before the game. Meth, as it is known, acts as a super stimulant. It improves just about every physical trait in a person in the short run, including, but not limited to: endurance, speed, and mind clarity. (Note, Meth should absolutely not be taken, despite these benefits. Meth is addicting and will destroy a person's health after a few years. Meth can also create heart problems. It is also illegal. Don't take it.) The players said that they received Vitamin C shots right before the game. Those shots could have had meth instead. A study sponsored by the German Olympic Committee, titled "Doping in Germany", looks into this.
Germany would continue to succeed in their football. They made the finals in 1966 where the English beat them in overtime.
West Germany would win agains 20 years later. Again, they would rely on an extremely defensive style to beat the best team in the world. This time, it was the Dutch. Led by Johan Cruijff, the experimental Netherlands national team became an extremely strong side. They redefined football as they knew it by creating what is now known as total football. Total football now is a hallmark of almost all soccer. I will develop into that when I review Holland. The 1974 final started off with a brilliant Dutch sequence. Of course, the Germans ended that sequence with a foul. How predictable. The thing is, that foul turned into a PK. Remarkably, the first German to touch that ball was the keeper when he was pulling it out of his own net. The Germans would go onto overcome the deficit (again) and win the trophy on their own home soil. The controversy for this one? The man who took the presidency of FIFA that year claimed that both the 1974 and the 1966 world cups were fixed for their respective winners. Do with that what you will.
1990 would be the last success of West Germany before reunification. Yet again, there would be controversy in the final. Argentina would lose 1-0 to the Germans in what has been described as the most cynical match of soccer in the World Cup finals ever (though that may have been bettered by 2010). Argentina would go on to get a man ejected early by a straight red for a foul on Jurgen Klinsmann (more on him later). Germany would struggle despite being a man up. The lone goal came from a PK which the shooter later admitted should never have been called. In this match, Franz Beckenbauer (Der Kaiser) became the first and only man to win a world cup both as a player and as a coach.
The Germans would also have success in the Euros, winning three: 1972, 1980, 1996. They would lose out to Denmark 2-0 in the final of 1992.
Germany have continued to enjoy success in the last decade. They reached the final of the 2002 World Cup despite being outplayed by the USA (they did this by a goal against run of play and by committing a handball to prevent a gaol that would have equalized. The handball went uncalled.) In that final, they lost to a Brazil side that was always going to win it. In 2006 and 2010, the team made it to the semifinals where they would lose to the eventual champions, Italy and Spain, respectfully. They would finishes third both times. Germany would make it to the Euro finals, where they lost to Spain.
Recently, the Germans have had something of a revolution. The Germans are well known for tight defense and brutal efficiency (as well as brutal fouls). They were not a particularly fun team to watch, but they won. In the period from 1998 to 2004, the Germans were in something of a decline. Despite making the finals of the world cup in 2002, they had not played well generally speaking throughout this time period. Jurgen Klinsmann then came in and transformed the side into one that played more inspired attacking football. Klinsmann updated the youth system and turned Germany into a force to be reckoned with. He led the team to a semifinal in Germany 2006 despite low expectations. Klinsmann then retired. (I have personally forgiven Klinsmann for his transgressions. He lived in the US while managing Germany and is now doing wonderful things with the USMNT, as highlighted by the glorious 5-1 thrashing of Scotland.) Klinsmann's assistant, Joachim Löw, stepped in after he left the team. Löw, also known as "Jogi", integrated a vast number of young "Germans" into the national team. That is in quotations because many of the players he brought in where immigrants or the children of immigrants. Now, I would not normally have a problem with this; the United States National Team is a great example of people who are have not necessarily been in America for generations upon generations. However, the issue is that these immigrants are generally excluded from German society. These peoples tend to be left in their own communities or neighborhoods, creating something like what China towns were in the US. This would create many places where the language most often hear on the streets is not German, but rather Turkish, Arabic, or some other language. These people would see themselves as natives of their mother country. Other Germans would also count them as foreigners. That includes discrimination, even in laws. It seems hypocritical to me to take a person from an ostracized sect of society and champion him as a hero while continuing to exclude the people he came from. I will state that I have this problem with most of the European Union nations that follow such discriminatory policies and tendencies, however, it appears, at least to me, that Germany are one of the few whose football takes advantage of these people. (For the record, I also dislike France, the only nation that I can think of that does something similar.)
Even though the Germans play more like the Dutch than Germans, expect several key aspects in their team. They will be highly organized. I felt that this was extremely clear during the 2010 world cup in their match against Australia, where they won 4-0. Also expect Germany to have a very tight defense. The team only gave up 1 goal in their group and a total of 5 (excluding Lampard's "not" goal) in the tournament, with 2 (nearly half) of them coming from the third place match. Of note, Germany had stiff opposition through the knockout rounds, beating England and Argentina and losing to Spain. Also of note, Germany have historically been let easy by the ref. The Germans are famous for never having a call going against them, with 1966 being the only major exception (that I know of). Case in point, the victory over the US, where America deserved to go through. As a result of their success and the nature in which Germany have played historically, they have accrued a huge amount of rivalries. Germany are certainly on the short list for the teams to hate.
Expect Germany to wear white with black shorts for their home kit and green (? where's the black?!) for their away kits. Germany have a host of nicknames. Some of the ones coming from my computer might include but are not limited to: the enemy, the dream-killlers, and the destroyers. Other common nicknames include Die Mannschaft (The Team),Die DFB-Elf (The DFB-Eleven), and Die Nationalelf.
Expect Germany to play with some sort of 4-3-3. That will probably mean having Podolski on the left, Klose in the middle, and Thomas Mueller on the right. Or something like that. Jogi has had quite the reign with Germany. He is something of a tactical genius and has infused the squad with talented young players. Before become the assistant to Klinsmann, he had spent a deal of time with some smaller clubs, such as Stuttgart and Fenerbahçe in Turkey. The team is coming off of something of a slump. Their record in their last 5 is WDWLL. The last L was a 5-3 thrashing from Switzerland. However, that came without any of the Bayern Munich players who were joined the team late because of the Champion's League Final. Bayern Munich supplies a whopping 8 players to the national team, over a third, most of whom are starters. Also of note, Germany had a perfect qualification campaign. Germany are currently ranked 2nd in the world as well as in Europe by FIFA. However, when the draw for the Euros took place, they were ranked 3rd. That, along with the co-hosts getting their own groups, made it possible for them to find themselves in such a group B that is absolutely stacked.
Players of Mention
I cannot deny it. Mert is German. And he is a good player. Those two otherwise fine traits have created quite a problem. Unfortunately, I must root against our lovable tall German. I must complain loudly when he makes a great interception, as he has at Arsenal this season. I will be sorely unhappy if/when he comes out of the tournament with not a single card to his name, much less a red. However, the great giant has several exploitable weaknesses. Despite being a gargantuan 6 foot 6, he is not particularly good in the air. Mert is also rather slow and ungainly and is only a good defender because of his positional skills. Finally, he also had a season ending ankle injury that appears to still be hindering him.
I really don't understand why this man is on this list. Someone must be confusing him with someone else. Podolski has somehow scored 43 times for Germany. This, of course, is impossible as Podolski is not really a German, but a Pole. Yet, somehow, his brilliant performances have netted him the Euro 2008 silver boot and a 2006 World Cup Best Young Player award. Podolski has really only had one proper club team: FC Koln. He has been elsewhere, securing a sting at Bayern Munich. However, that went badly as he got relegated to the second team before being sent back. Now, he is coming to Arsenal and we are certainly expecting good things from the Pole. And that means we get this lovely song.
Ok, he really is not key but I would say he is important. I mean, every team that is seriously in the running to win something should have a good keeper. Besides that, Neuer is in here because the Germans have historically needed their keepers to perform and because he is actually really good. The man made it to the Champion's League final after denying 3 PK's in a PK shootout against Real Madrid. REAL MADRID. And one of those saves came against Cristiano Ronaldo. In the final, he really should have won the championship for his team, and he almost did. He saved the first PK, which should have been enough for Munich to win, but they blew it. Neuer also finished with Munich in second place in the Bundesliga.
As the Captain, you expect good things from him. He was rather good playing as the captain and Leftback for Bayern Munich in the Champion's League final, harassing Chelsea with his runs forward. But it should be noted that his team lost. That could very well affect how the team does. Lahm has 85 caps and 4 goals at the international level. Oh, he also has a book that was a best seller in Germany.
Khedira is a 25 year old Real Madrid Defensive Midfielder. He is of Tunisian and German descent. He replaced captain Michael Ballack for the 2010 after Ballack was ruled out following a devastating injury in the FA Cup final between his Chelsea and Portsmouth. Khedira has 26 caps and 1 goal.
Ozil (23)is the real playmaker for Germany. He plies his trade with Real Madrid with Sami Khedira. He is a real talent and is the man pulling the strings in the attack for both Real Madrid and Germany. He was one of the players tied with the most assists in the 2010 World Cup with 3. Ozil was also instrumental in his team's first place finish in the league. He is a third generation German Turk. He already has a nickname: The Raven. Oddly enough, he is also called Nemo by his teammates in Real Madrid, a reference to the awesome Pixar Movie. Interestingly, despite being Turkish, Ozil is a devout converted Muslim. He won the Bambi award for being an example of a well integrated individual (which makes me sick).
Müller is not a midfielder. He is a forward. A man born with one goal in mind- sticking the ball behind the little white line. He is so good at this, he got the golden boot for the 2010 World Cup. Might I add that he is only 22? He was the man who scored for Bayern Munich in the Champion's League final. He probably would have scored his PK and won the game for his team if he hadn't been subbed off immediately after scoring.
This is the real heart and soul of both Bayern Munich and the German National team. He is vital in both the defense and the attack. However, he effectively lost the Champion's League for Bayern Munich. More on why that is important in here. Schweinsteiger has 90 caps with 23 goals at the international level.
For more information on Goldi Poldi, see above
Yet another Pole. I really don't understand this. Klose is tied for second with Gerd Müller for the most World Cup goals. He is behind Ronaldo and in front of Pele. Allow me to repeat that. Pele. He has more goals in World Cups than the number one front runner for the World's Best Player Ever award. Yeah, that's something. Klose plays with Lazio. He moved to Italy this year from Bayern Munich. He was second fiddle to Mario Gomez there. Interestingly, that role is reversed for the national team. As Gomez demonstrated in the Champion's League Final, he rather sucks when it really counts. Instead, Klose is likely to be the starter and all important goal scorer.
Chances in Euro 2012
I'd say, pretty good. They have found themselves in the group of death but are expected to be one of the teams to make it out. They also will have something of a home field advantage for any game held in Poland as the co-host neighbors Germany. However, that won't happen until at least the quarterfinals as Group B play in Ukraine. Also of note, most of the games with Germany will be rival or grudge matches. You never know what happens in games like that. Should Germany make it out of the group stage, they will find themselves playing against one of the survivors of the weak group A. Germany can expect either Russia or the Czech Republic. Neither are pushovers, but they probably won't stand next to the Germans. Poland and Greece stand an even smaller chance of scrapping by.
Matches to watch
Um, all of them. This is the Group of Death. Germany is Entertaining. And every match is something of a grudge match if not a full out rivalry.
Netherlands vs. Germany
This is one of those ridiculously huge rivalries in soccer. These teams hate each other beyond belief. Of note, the Germans play like the Dutch usually do, while Holland are playing like traditional Germans. I might add that these two teams are ranked the second and third best in Europe (and, if FIFA ranked properly, the World. Holland slipped behind Uruguay to 4th, which is ridiculous. Holland beat Uruguay comprehensively in the 2010 World Cup after the Uruguayans had a relative breeze into the semifinals.)
Portugal vs. Germany
This is a rematch of the quarterfinals of the 2008 Euros. Both are talented squads. Expect a show.
Denmark vs. Germany
This is probably the least exciting of Germany's 3 group matches. However, this is a grudge match. Denmark beat Germany in the final of their sole Euro success. Both teams are quite good, so expect some interesting stuff.
If I was unbiased, I'd probably say that Germany would win the Euros. But I am biased and really hate them. I think they will be stopped by a good team, likely Spain, in the Semifinals.
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