Early Doors

Germany: The people’s champions

Early Doors

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"Praise the Lord, the Germans have scored!"

Those words, uttered by Colin Murray on Five Live, summed up Germany's unlikely rise to the status of People's Champions at Euro 2012.

You could see where Murray was coming from. In last night's quarter-final, Greece delivered a first-half performance of such unremitting negativity that Roy's boys look like swaggering flair merchants in comparison.

So it came as some relief to see a positive, incisive Germany side break the deadlock. It represented a small victory of footballing good over evil, though ITV's Peter Drury obviously couched it in Eurozone terms - of which more later.

The English public has had a soft spot for Germany since they turned up at the 2006 World Cup on home soil looking like Kevin Keegan's Newcastle.

Dour efficiency had been replaced by unfettered attacking ambition and a bizarre lack of tactical discipline under Juergen Klinsmann.

That Mannschaft-crush intensified in 2010 when the Germans pasted England in the last 16.

Rather than whining about the lucky Germans and Frank Lampard's goal, we magnanimously accepted our fate, while hailing the victors as a model for us to follow - a young team of technically-accomplished players who had worked their way through the age-group teams and played in something approaching perfect harmony.

And recently it has become increasingly fashionable to install Jogi Loew's brave boys as favourites for Euro 2012.

At the same time, Spain have apparently jumped the shark - particularly in light of Barcelona's disappointing end to the season.

Spain are too slow and predictable, it seems. After all, they spent much of their final group game just one goal away from potential elimination.

Germany on the other hand are considered swift, slick and sexy - never mind that they were in exactly the same situation as Spain in the second half of their game against Denmark.

ED likes Germany, likes Germans, and loves that football conversations about them no longer revert to tedious re-hashes of 1966 or - worse - the war.

However, ED does not rate this team as highly as many. For a side apparently chock-full of flair and invention, it is only really Mesut Ozil who lives up to this billing.

More than that, ED knows a trendy team when it sees one, and it tends to run the other way.

World Cup 2010 - Germany and Argentina

Euro 2008 - Netherlands and Croatia

World Cup 2006 - Brazil and Germany

Euro 2004 - Czech Republic and Portugal

World Cup 2002 - South Korea and England

Teams that gather a buzz during a tournament tend not to win. And, since their transition from ruthless automatons to free-wheeling crowd-pleasers, Germany have done a lot of not winning.

Which, ED supposes, only makes them more popular.

Back to last night, and football's ill-fated intrusion into global economics.

ED gets it - the game was played against a backdrop of tension between Greece and Germany over the former's economic meltdown and the latter's bailout conditions.

But was it really the place of Peter Drury to make continual reference to it?

The rehearsed yelp of "Greece have wiped out the debt!" that greeted the equaliser was bad enough.

But how about this effort when Dimitris Salpingidis netted a late consolation goal from the penalty spot: "A nod to say 'perhaps we do deserve to share the pitch and our finances with you'."

Really? That penalty is evidence that Greece should stay in the Euro?

It is only really when commentators start talking about things that actually matter that the full horror of their glib asides reveals itself.

We should be thankful Drury was not in the commentary box when England played Germany in 1938.

Mind you, it was not only him. Over on Five Live, Alan Green and Danny Mills broke down the crisis for the listening public.

(ED paraphrases)

Green: "I don't know what the Greeks are complaining about - Germany is keeping their economy afloat."

Mills: "But the bailout conditions are too harsh - nobody's got a job in Greece."

Early Doors does not want to be a part of any economic discussion in which Danny Mills is the voice of reason.

- - -

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "If I win the European Championship the first thing I will do is seek you out and give you a kiss right on the chops." Iker Casillas to veteran Cadena Ser reporter Jose Ramon De la Morena - this after snogging his TV reporter girlfriend after the 2010 World Cup final.

FOREIGN VIEW: "I'm not strong, nor fast, nor skilful, I'm a player from the street. Without my team-mates, without space, I am nothing."

Read Andy Mitten's excellent profile of Xavi ahead of Spain's Euro 2012 quarter-final against France tonight.

COMING UP: Spain v France: LIVE at 19:45!

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