Helmut No-Mates

Hi again all. Been down in Vienna for a couplle of days now and am loving it, but have not been too wired-up. (Thanks for the place to stay Georg, even if it doesn't have internet.)

Am now sitting in a lovely little Kaffehaus, which is over a century old, and which also happens to have WiFi. Unfortunately there's not a lot of electrical sockets, and I used up most of my juice mixing a piece. (I've posted it below.)

Suffice it to say Germany will have planty of support here in Vienna tonight (40,000 Germans have made the trip), but I think they might have trouble finding the 40,001st.

Neutral Fans
Matt Hermann 29.06.2008, 14:06 # 0 Comments
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Spain Get the Nod
  It seems that Spain is the favorite with most nationalities outside of Germany. With Michael Ballack looking doubtful - and Jogi Loew talking about playing Tim Borowski (ugh!) then it looks as though the balance of power may have swung to the Spanish.

This will not bother the Germans at all. If Ballack does miss the final, this will of course be a blow. But playing Schweinsteiger behind the strikers in that forward position that Ballack has been profiting from in the latter games may prove a match-winning alternative. It might, however, all be kidology on Loew's part. Spain will have prepared with Ballack in mind, employing a game plan which would include negating the powerful Germany captain's surging influence. If they start to think of a way of stopping Schweini from that position instead - and Ballack takes to the field - it may not ruin Luis Aragones' plans but it will force a quick rethink - and at the last minute, that can be equally disruptive.

Saying that, despite the absence of David Villa, Spain look very strong and full of attacking intent. If the German midfield takes to the pitch without the steel of Ballack, the shaky defense of Mertesacker and Metzelder may find the creative Cesc Fabregas (if he plays) a handful, especially if Fernando Torres takes the sole striker role just in front of him. Fabregas will look to exploit the German defense's lack of mobility and get the lightning fast Torres behind with only the flappable Lehmann to beat.

At the other end, however, Podolski may give Sergio Ramos a torrid time on the left where his dangerous crosses have proved deadly and the diminuitve Spanish center backs may have problems with Klose and others when it comes to set pieces and crosses.

While Spain seem to be out in front in the opinions of many, I myself see this being a very close game. It could go either way...and maybe to the wire.
Nick Amies 29.06.2008, 13:42 # 0 Comments
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The Oranje Party Continues
  It's final day and the Dutch are continuing to party as if their team was still in the tournament. Maybe it's just their mentality that while there is football on, there is fun to be had - regardless of whether the Oranje are involved or not.

Amsterdam is still decked out in the national colors and people dressed head to toe in tangerine out-number the sun burnt Brits looking for sinful entertainment by about ten to one. Satsumas on bicycles drive by, shouting "Hup! Hup!" as if Marco van Basten's team is still in with a shout of the title. They're not, of course. It's Germany and Spain tonight. And for the Dutch, even the fact that their great rivals the Germans are in the final is no reason to be too upset.

"We played a good tournament and played the best football," one bystander at a street football competition in the Dam Square told me. "We played beautiful games but met our match in the Russians. There is no shame in that as they were a great team. It is never a shame to lose to a team who plays like us."

I asked another if the fact that the Germans were in the final was a reason for jealousy or bad feelings.

"No. The Germans win in a very different way to the Dutch," he said. "We win with sexy football. They fight and scrap for victory. It is not beautiful. I would prefer to see Holland lose and look good than for us to play like the Germans and win."

So, will the whole of Holland be cheering on Spain?

"We will drink lots of beer and celebrate football," a jolly Oranje giant in a Wesley Sneijder shirt told me outside a crowded pub. "This has been a great tournament with great games. We will celebrate that."

"And celebrate even more when the f***ing Germans lose!" shouted another.

That clears that up then.

Nick Amies 29.06.2008, 10:28 # 0 Comments
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