I cursed when I saw the schedule for the Argentina v. Germany match since it was scheduled while I was working in Hartford, CT.
Instantly, my thoughts turned to the stereotypes of the Americans and soccer. With them out of the tournament, I pictured nothing but baseball on televisions everywhere. My requests to see football might as well be for curling.
Thankfully the matches are on regular cable here and the stereotype does not hold true. But finding venues that have TVs that will show the game proved to be the issue. For example, I was able to find a venue that had the games on at full volume, had free wifi and had an assortment of beers to choose from.
But once again I found myself in a Hooters. As per my coverage of the USA match against Ghana, there were many Americans in attendance, but also a pack of Uruguayans. Either there are Hooters in Uruguay, or they couldn't find a Chi-Chi's and figured this was the next best thing, name-wise anyway.
Being so far from The Musket and all the great German folks that I met in Toronto, I hoped I could find a similar venue where local people of German descent would gather to watch their team battle against Maradona's Argentina. Again, I hoped. One quick Google and I saw that 20 minutes away sat a place called "The German Club". Already picturing sitting with another three generations of Germans, I called the club. A woman with a New England accent answered.
"Yes, hi. I was wondering if you were going to have the German game on tomorrow."
"The what game?"
"The German game. The match against Argentina."
"I don't know what that is."
"The World Cup game. The soccer."
"Oh, yeah. What time is that on?"
"Oh, yeah. We'll have that on for sure. We open at 9:00."
"So I just show up in the morning then?"
"What time is the game?"
"Oh. No, sorry. We don't open until 9:00pm."
Not even Hooters was going to open early for the game, not even enough Uruguayans interested in this game it seemed. No German club. No free wifi. I resigned myself to the ABC coverage of the match at the condo, ESPN preferring to show bowling instead.
Now, I've become more and more a fan of the German side, but for this match, I'll say that I'm no fan of Maradona. I've never liked him as a player. In fact, I've always seen him as a paranoid vainglorious cheat. Talent or not, I've never had much respect for the man. And as such, with him at the reins of the national side, I like many were just waiting for the chaos to come. He's dressing up now with a long flowing mane of hair, a dignified beard, but every time the camera pans on him at the sidelines, I always think he comes off looking like Super Mario's insurance-selling cousin. That or a guy that just won the lottery and realized that he suddenly needed to buy a suit.
The sad part is I become slightly torn, with players the likes of Messi that I love to watch and wish to see do well. But then there's Tevez, who I have absolutely no love for. I also don't like that other toothy guy that signed with him at West Ham. Whatever. There are guys I like on Argentina, but there's way more on the German side that strike my fancy.
The match kicks off and the third minute sets the tone for the game as Müller connected a header on to a free kick and slotted past the dead-footed Argentinean keeper. I instantly thought about the folks at The Musket, thinking that most of them wouldn't have had time to sit down with their beers yet and already they're out of their seats. Remarkably, I don't think of Hooters.
With Argentina on the back foot, they go long patches attempting to break through the German midfield to no avail, allowing Germany to counter a few times but not find the net. I half want Messi to bury one, but this game, like others in the tournament, is unable to put on the finishing touches expected of him. His distribution succinct, but for the best footballer in the world, you'd expect him to bury goals and not Argentina's hopes.
In the 36th minute, Müller catches one of the worst yellow-card calls for a handball as seen yet in the tournament and misses what looks to be the next match as a result. Next, up, Argentina would have scored had 36% of their team not been in an offside position. Cut to Maradona, shielding his eyes, unable to look at the spectacle.
The second half starts with Argentina seeming to have been talked up by Maradona, their forwards rushing ahead but colliding hard with a very unforgiving German defence. Their efforts appear to drop for nowt in the 68th minute as Klose scores to make it 2-0. The pass from the slot tucks in behind the Argentinean defender and he side-foots it into goal. The whole affair strikes me as offside, but no one appears to be complaining. A quick shot to the Argentinean technical area shows Maradona scrambling about, looking like he left his answers to this somewhere. Must be in the other suit.
Six minutes later, Germany score again and it's looking like the German match all over again. Argentina are thoroughly beaten and are reminded of that as it all becomes academical in the 89th. Germany make it their third four-goal game of the tournament. With that win, every other country in the world's FAs begin firing up laptops and Googling the words "youth" and "system".
The final whistle blows and in the end, so does Argentina; their aged defence agape and their powerful strikers shown as impotent. Speaking of which, I'm reminded that Maradona promised/threatened to run naked if Argentina won the tournament. Thank you Germany for helping to keep his privates private.
By the way, I have been calling for a Germany-Holland final since before the games started. Just sayin'...