Ageism: 53 Mundial years added
Pallor: Rosy (two days in one spot, and no games to watch, will get you feeling that way)
Forecast: What else? Sunny and hot
Last full day in Frankfurt – with some time here, went on a Main River boat ride yesterday and well, the wind and the sun were nice; tonight it will be the final meal at the neighbourhood restaurant, the da Michele, where the nightly fresh fish is always, always the wise choice. Dora Danielli and her husband – the eponymous chef, Michele – have 34 years here in the restaurant business. They’ve been at their present location, 2 ½ blocks away from the train station, for four years. If you’re ever in the neighbourhood, you can’t go wrong here.
Now, to a mini-post, sort of the addendum to the other day’s Feel the Love Generation whining, among other things. When it comes to cheesy music, nothing beats the World Cup. Before they play every match here, the same tunes precede the arrival of the teams and their officially sponsored children’s escorts.
Besides Feel the Love etc., there’s All Together Now, a soap bubble of a pop song from the Brit-bubblegummer group Atomic Kitten, otherwise harmless except it amps up the cute factor with an accompanying video of pantless, bankrupt mascot Goleo and his little ball pal traveling over Planet Football. Bleah.
At halftime, there’s a bunch of advertisements. In previous World Cups, I always looked forward to this time for the montage of past great moments – in 2002, I never got tired of watching the same clip, almost 70 years of history boiled down to three minutes. Not here. This has been the most corporate of World Cups. All you get at halftime is selling.
At the end of each game, as the players fall to the ground either exalting or in desolation, there’s another destruction of the Pet Shop Boys’ Go West – this is a terrace anthem with a version for every language, and subversions from there. In this case, a way-OTT tenor sings “Stand Up for the Champ-i-ons”. Pretty corny.
When I get home, these things will be drilled into my skull so deep I’d need microsurgery to get them out. They’re down there with Ricky Martin (France ’98), Anastasia (Korea/Japan ’02) and Nelly Furtado (Euro 2004) – I can’t remember the USA ’94 stuff, though I do recall Diana Ross’ awful miskick of the easiest tap-in of a ball at the opening ceremonies in Chicago. It’s a cheezfest.
There’s one common element: No one appears to be paying the least attention to it, at least until the final when everyone's in party mode (Furtado's Forca! at the Euro finale got 'em jumping, and Martin got a big brass backup in '98). These are meant in part to be stadium singalongs, but rarely does anyone join in. At Netherlands-Ivory Coast, there was some desultory clapping, but that’s been it.
That’s why the fans in the stands singing “Born in the USA” or “I Will Survive” or "Football's Coming Home" are so much a part of this event, much moreso than the most committed at the biggest games in North America. These people don’t need prompting from the Jumbotron – The show in the stands, with the costumes and the people-watching, is so much more interesting than what's up there -- they make their own noise.
Germany vs Italy. I’ll be at this one in Dortmund, where Germany have never lost an international – that’s 71 years, and 14 matches, 13 of them wins. But the anti-stat to that is that Italy has never lost to the Mannschaft at the World Cup finals, including the 1982 championship game. Looks like Germany could be without defensive midfielder Torsten Frings, who is in the midst of a disciplinary hearing in Berlin early this afternoon, after a review of video suggested he was an “active participant” in the post-match melee with Argentina on Friday. A huge loss, he would be – his presence allows Michael Ballack to roam a little more freely up front, and is a security blanket for the Germany back 4. Nesta is probably still out for Azzurri, who get Materazzi back from suspension and into the central defence. I like how Italy looked in their latest, their own goal against the U.S. way back when is the only ball to have got by Buffon in five matches here, and they've remained unbeaten and mostly unshakable despite all the trouble with the game back home. Italy 1, Germany 0.
UPDATE: Frings has been suspended for the semifinal. This from the FIFA news release:
The committee ruled that it had been proved that Frings had punched Argentine international Julio Cruz immediately after the World Cup quarter-final between Germany and Argentina on 30 June 2006. In the opinion of the committee, this action was tantamount to an assault.