Monday, June 19, 2006

Well played, Germany

No, not the team, the country. They´ve done a hell of a job. Tonight is Spain and Tunisia in Stuttgart. Tomorrow I´m back in Hamburg where I should be able to upload some photos of recent events and activity.

Brazil vs. Australia

I´ll remember this match for the way the Aussie supporters were louder than the Brazilians. I´ll also remember it for how the ref practically gave the game to Brazil and for what a chump Ronaldo was. It was a bit like USA vs. Italy where the ref was just giving everything to one team. Anyway, my seat was near mid-field but up pretty high. But this is one of those stadiums where there is no bad seat so I had a great overview of all the action. It was an insane-o-thon when the Socceroos came out to warm up. First tune on the blaring sound system: Down Under by Men at Work. Second song: Beds are Burning by Midnight Oil. Third song: TNT by AC/DC. Of course all the Aussies knew every word to every song and sang and danced through the whole warmup.

Once the match got underway, the Brazilian fans and their arrogance became apparent. They expect to win and that´s all there is to it. And with the Brazilian players diving every time the Aussies breathed on them, my status as a nuetral officially changed. I wanted Australia to win. Win they did not, but they can hold their heads high. The ref gave them nothing. The jeers that Fatty Ronaldo received when he totally biffed a bunch of chances were great. It was wonderful to have the majority of the whole stadium jeering the Brazilians justly because they were so poor. I believe the attendance (at capacity, of course) was in the 66,000 range. Big thumbs up for that venue. The Germans have done a great job.

Back in town after the match Pat and I hit the Haufbrauhous when mayhem in the form of plastered Aussies and Brazilians was ensuing. No violence, just drunkeness to the extreme. We got out of there and went back to our breakfast spot for more sausage. A couple of Swuiss lads joined us and we made some new friends. A beer and some meat later, we retired for the evening.

I Love Munich

Who knew? The town was never really on my radar simply because of other European attractions but it is fantastic. A Baroque gem. Wonderful gardens everywhere and quite nice residents. The Brazilian and Aussie contingents were out in force. But I need to back up. Pat and I arrived pretty early and ditched our bags at the hotel before settling into some sausages at a local historic brewhouse. Very nice. Then back to the hotel whdere our room were made available to us at 9:45 AM = wonderful. We crashed out for a few hours and then hit the town. The Marienplatz was Nutsboro with all the Brazil and Aussie crazies in fine form. When Rudi Voller appeared on a balcony to do a TV report everyone went wild. Pat and I had just arrived and felt special - Rudi had come out just for us.

After a stunning lunch of beers and tuna salad with olives (Pat went for the special cheese) I set off for the match. The train was justifiably packed and it was a bit of a ride out to the Arena. Thank God this is being held in Germany. Train too full? German cops come up and get everyone out of the way so it can leave and the next one can get into the station. Constant updates that you can actually understand over the intercom in German and English. Everything on time. Order, order, order. And that is what an event of this magnitiude needs to be enjoyable. At least for someone like me...

But to the Arena. It looks like a smushed tire of marshmallow. I felt like some sort of alien being walking up to it. It´s out in the middle of a field with blooming flowers. Since it was a day match it was not lit up, which was a bummer. But it was impressive. Very impressive. More on the match later.

Bloodbath in Kaiserslautern

Kaiserslautern was nuts. Made it down there without too much trouble and met up with Pat. To make a long story short, I did not get a ticket. Pat and Ivar did, so I left them to enjoy and found a great biergarten in the forest to watch the match. Deborah from Jackson, Mississippi, was my pal during the mayhem that ensued. Her family is here for vacation because her son is a soccer freak. Like me, her crew was inside the stadium so we had to view solo.

I´m proud of the way our guys represented. Some of the calls were totally bogus, but in an uphill battle we let it be known that we can hang with Italy. At least it means the Ghana game is meaningful. Should be a classic. The crowd in town was insane. Loads of wasted Italians acting like fools and tons of Americans doing the Team America cheer, "America, Fuck Yeah!" And that beats "USA! USA!" by a mile. I was actually pretty damn impressed by the US presence and support. Obviously there are some massive military bases nearby but it seemed that most people had come over from the States.

Kudos again to the Germans for being such great hosts. Pat and I were able to snare a great steak and frites dinner after the kitchen had closed at one place before grabbing our overnight train to Munich.