Euro 2008

Finally, I can watch European football games without having to stay awake in midnight time! Yeah, of course I also watch Champions League and UEFA Cup, but now I have a chance to watch Euro 2008.

Since I am living in Germany now, so I ‘have to’ support Germany. Of course there’s no obligation for that. But I just want to experience the whole thing, supporting one team and feel the excitement. If I am just being neutral, the excitement will not be so fun.

Below, I only talk about game that I watched and documented. So not all the game that I watched will be presented here, cause the discussion will be very long then.

Watching Football in France
When I went to France, I also apply the same thing. I support France when they play against Romania. Surprisingly, not many people watch football in cafes. The situation is not as crazy as in Germany. In Germany, people are just wearing any national football jersey and watch the live broadcast together. But in France, just take a look at this video, the café is so empty :(

Football Fever in Germany
As I mentioned before, situation in Germany is so crazy. People wear many national team jerseys; stores are selling many attributes regarding Euro 2008; and flags of the participating teams are everywhere! I love this, you can express yourself freely!

Germany vs Austria
This is the only qualification round for Germany that I watch in public place. I watch it with friends in an open air café. I don’t think German plays well, but their goal is pretty impressive.
This is a crucial game for Germany as they can’t loose to be able to qualify. Especially not to Austria, the neighbor country. In the end, Germany won with 1-0.

Germany vs Portugal
This time, I watch it at a café near my apartment. It’s a very comfortable place as it has big cozy sofa. Surprisingly, most of my classmates also come!
And surprisingly also, the Germans play so well. In the beginning, I thought they are going to loose against Portugal because Portugal played so well in the qualification round. But football is football, anything can happen. That’s why we all love it ;)
Overall, the game is very interesting. Both teams are active in attacking and the tempo is pretty fast. I think, this is the best match in Euro 2008 so far.

The crowd goes crazy when Germany scores

She's the only Portugal's supporter. Well, she's Portuguese!

Holland vs Russia
Another crazy game! Holland was so strong during group qualification. They smashed Italy and France, so it’s no surprise if they become one of the favorites to win the tournament. I also thought they will win.

However, in the last Russian match against Sweden, I see that Russia is a very strong team. They are very good in teamwork. And when I realize that their coach is the Dutchman Guus Hiddink, I am not surprised and sure that the game against Holland will be an interesting one.

And indeed, the Russian seems to teach Holland how to play football. In the group qualification, it was Holland who always teaches other teams about how to play football. They even ‘punish’ their opponents, whenever the opponents dare to attack them, with a magnificent counter attack. But this time, Russia overplays Holland. They are faster, rarely looses any balls, and hard to penetrate. Holland’s counter attack doesn’t work at all. I always thought that van Persie is an ideal match with Robben; if only one of them plays, it won’t be maximum.

This game is a proof that having a good coach is more important than having bunch of star players. But probably since Guus Hiddink is Dutch, he can understand Van Basten’s instruction; and make a strategy for his team out of it ;)

Below are the supporters of Russia in a café near my apartment.

Analysis and Prediction
So far, 3 quarterfinals have been played. And all the teams, which qualified as winner in their group, were lost. So let’s see whether Spain will fit into this pattern or they become anomaly.

About prediction, I really don’t know. The strong teams become weak and vice versa.

Beside, it’s European Cup. If Greece and last-time-substitute, Denmark, can won the championship; anything can really happen.

First Semifinal: Germany vs Turkey
A lot of controversies accompanying this game even before it started. Well, here’s the reality, Turkish communities is the 2nd largest population in Germany. So within one country, there’ll be 2 large groups of separate supporters. Of course there are also social issues like everywhere in the world whenever talking about the largest and 2nd largest social group, but I wouldn’t elaborate more in here. But anyway, the potential of riot is big!

So, to see how much the game will affect the social construction in Germany, I decide to go watching the match in public viewing area. The place is called ‘marktplatz’; it’s an open space downtown where normally used as traditional market.

For the game, the ‘marktplatz’ is surrounded by fence. We have to pay €1 to enter. Inside, there’s 1 big screen and many F&B vendors. But the typical problem for me in this situation is just one: I am drowning among the tall Germans! I can’t see the screen!

Okay, so the bad thing is the screen is only one. So all people don’t have option and have to look to one direction. And me…??? Well sometime I can see it, but most of the time I can’t :(
Luckily, I went there with my giant friends. So whenever there’s a goal, they lift me up so I can see the replay. Yup, right… I only see the replays, not the real goals :(

During the match, there’re 2 times that the broadcast network went down! So the screen just goes blank for some minutes! Oh well, developed country…

As for the supporters issues, well as far as I saw, no clash between them. People with Turkish flag and German flag can stay at the same place peacefully. However, one of my friends sees a brawl when he went home.

As we all know, the game ends in 3-2 for Germany. And this situation has created a big party on the streets. Every car blocks the road and just keep honking while the passenger waving the flag. This means, the tram can’t pass. And for going home, I have to take a bus until main station (as bus can seek for alternative route) then walk for 3 or 4 stops then continue with other tram then continue with the tram that goes to my home. I arrive exactly at midnight with sore legs as I have to stand up the whole game and walk! :(

Before Final
I am glad that Spain can go to final; which make them the only team that top the group qualification and go through. So they become the deviation from the model that I elaborate earlier ;)

Furthermore, they only have won in once in 1964. They must be so motivated to win again. The way they play against Russia also smart. They make the Russian can’t develop their play. Although it’s a bit rough in the first half but in the second half, Spain really controlling the game. Congratulation Spain!

It’ll be an interesting game for the final!

The Final
“Pssst, don’t tell the Germans, but I think they’ll loose…” this is what I said to my brother on the email one day before the final game. Well, after watching Spain against Russia, I think Spain is stronger than Germany. And it’s not just my opinion, critiques even hail them as “Football on its best”. But Germany is a tournament team, they always get lucky. Don’t believe? Check the semifinal again between Germany against Turkey!

Anyway, I still support Germany. If I were lucky, I would feel the football party, the taste of becoming winner. So, to prepare for the best, me and my friends plan to watch it downtown. But this time we got a very nice place. It’s still open air but I don’t have to stand up at all. It’s on the open air café called Goetheplatz. The screen is low, it was attached to a box car. So people can just sit to watch it. I sit on the ground, 2 rows from the front; so my view isn’t blocked by any German head.

Unlike when Germany plays against Turkey, I didn’t see any Spain supporter but one. This guy on the picture. Maybe there’re a lot of Spain supporters but they don’t dare to wear the attributes openly. So this guy really has nerve! And this why I salute the Germans, they won’t bother you. They respect the freedom of expression.

When the game started, I see Germany attacks Spain in high pressure. The only thing that crossed my mind at that time was, “So, this is the difference between regular winner and the inexperience one. The experienced one plays in full confident while the inexperienced one looks nervous.” And I start to think that maybe Germany will win because of their mentality.

But then halftime of first round, the game starts to change. Spain can release themselves from the pressure and starts attacking back; and they surely become dangerous. But again, Germany isn’t an easy team to beat. This makes the first 45 minutes so interesting. And of course the goal makes it more interesting. But after the first half, I start to believe that Spain will win!

Second half started, and Germany looks energized again. It looks good in the beginning until it’s so obvious that Germany has lost their grip. Whenever Spain attacks, German defenders are mostly not there; or whenever they can take the ball from the Spain, they will soon loose it again. So it’s only a matter of time. Spain will win.

After the Game
There’re many sad faces during my way home. I thought the supporters will just go home in disappointment. Somehow I was wrong. Some Germans are just partying, don’t mind who win. If they find any Spain supporters, they will just join them partying!!! Nice attitude!

It was almost midnight and me and my friends have to catch the last tram; or else we have to wait for the night bus which will come 30 minutes mater. But apparently, so do many people! So when the tram comes, people just rush to go in. They even pushed each other to fit in. This situation reminds me of the situation around end of Ramadan (Indonesian: Lebaran) where many people will travel home.

I am also getting pushed inside. But the suffering doesn’t stop inside. People still pushing each other and I can’t balance myself; I can’t stand up straight. In the end, and this is the most embarrassing part, I end up sitting on a guy’s lap!!! Yeah true, I didn’t do it intentionally!
So for the whole trip to home, I just sit on his lap! Apparently most of the passengers are also students who live in the student apartments nearby my place. Of course I apologize to the guy and told him I don’t have any choice. And of course he said that he understands and doesn’t mind. He looks cool; he even looks so young, my guess probably high school student. But his friend looks surprised. His friend seems can’t hide his smile whenever he sees us! Oh well, whatever…

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