Tuesday, June 20, 2006

It is time for cuts, four nations will go home today. Neither Germany nor Ecuador can get the booth, they play to determine who plays whom, in the second round. At the other match, no result can keep Poland nor Costa Rica in the tournament.
Nevertheless, the games are played simultaneously, try to break a fifa rule. I have two screens running, my television and my computer. I can only take pictures through my computer, so I cleared a path to the controls, through which I can dive to change channels. All is set, and the referee blows his whistle.
Ecuador is the first to deliver the ball to the German keeper.
"Lehman obviously being tested here," says the commentator, he obviously thought more of it than I. Germany slowly but systematically builds up their attacks, German efficiency. Ecuador cannot clear a corner far enough, and Germany’s manshaft punishes them for it. A German cuts a ball back of the line to a free teammate, close to the penalty dot. He strikes fast and accurate, German style.


"Somebody give Ecuador the smelling powder," says the commentator. He starts to speculate on a possible England - Germany match up, in the next round. ‘Koffiedikkijken’ we call that in Holland, or reading the future in the last bit of your coffee cup, the cold murky backwash of thick coffee-mud.
"Germany will play it slow, out of the back," says the commentator while the Germans efficiently play the ball around.
Ecuador realizes it cannot wait and starts challenging each possession, chasing the ball.
"Ecuador not able to find much room," says the commentator while Germany claims the ball.
A German striker cannot free himself, from behind an Ecuadorian defender, on time to connect his head with the ball. He needed only a fraction of a second more.
In the twenty-ninth minute, Germany places a high-speed ball through the middle. The keeper of Ecuador comes of his goal line to beat the German striker to the ball. He is outside the box, so he kicks it for clearance. Ballack receives the ball forty meters from the goal, he fires a high ball, a lob intended for target. Ballack misses Ronaldinho's precision, the ball lobs over the defenders, the keeper, and the goal. However, Germany calls the shots. They pass the ball around, deeper and deeper on Ecuadorian soil. Ecuador fails to beat the German defense on the counter, even though they try hard.
Minutes before halftime, Germany makes a statement. A German striker juggles the ball with his knee over the keeper and a persistent defender, showing Germany can score with creative soccer, or football.


Germany leads and the crowd loves it. Germany is Germany again, on the front stage of the World Cup.
The first minute of the second half, a German striker shows more German technique. He accepts the ball in the penalty box, keeping five defenders, ten enemy's feet, at bay. He does not see a clear shot on goal and passes it back for a shot of a teammate, no result but Germany sends a message. With the team, or alone, the Germans are playing World champion football, or soccer.
Germany wants to make sure everybody understands and shoot at the target, like nobody thought they still could, and the manschaft puts a proclamation behind their performance.


"The German side is very entertaining,” says the commentator. I would have laughed if you told me two weeks ago that I would be hearing that today.

The German fans are explaining it from the stands, "Fussball ist zu hause", they chant.