Five things from….Germany 4 Portugal 0

22 hours after I left home I finally arrived in my hotel in Singapore.  I was hot, sweaty and tired and just wanted to lay on the bed and watch TV.  The bad news – none of the state-owned TV channels are covering the World Cup – WTF???  The absolutely fantastic news is that across the road from the hotel, on the corner of Raffles City was a German bar that was certainly showing the game.  So I popped over there and joined the pretty young blonde things who were dressed in their German shirts and not much else (it is 34 degrees here at midnight).  A couple of $22 German beers later and we were rocking and a rolling.  A brave lone Portuguese fan walked in, made some ludicrous claims about Pepe being the best defender in the world, then left.

photo 3 (23)I don’t think there was any doubt that this was one of the games of the Group Stages and I was pleased to be sharing a beer or two with some new German friends.  They were confident, if not a bit cocky, telling me, of course, that football was coming home.  One even showed me his bet on his phone – German 3 Portugal 0, Mueller to score first.  Deluded.

1. Every year the German team is always said to be “not quite good as the last” – Same core of players yet somehow there is always a new star.  Everyone thought that Ozil would be the playmaker but those wily old Germans fooled us all and Bayern’s Thomas Mueller dropped back into the whole and bagged himself only the second World Cup hatrick in 12 years. Mueller is still only 24 but has scored 20 goals in just 50 internationals.

2. German fans don’t sing their own national anthem – The bar was rammed yet when the music started up only a couple of them actually sang along.  If that would have been England we’d have been on the tables, blood vessels popping showing our national pride.

3. Laughing – Come on, own up.  When that fourth goal went in and the camera panned across to Ronaldo looking at his new boots, who didn’t have a little laugh?  We all love to hate certain players but today we all laughed….well unless you have him to score first goal at 7/1.

4. Footballers sometimes need to take a long, hard look in the mirror – Whether it be pre-match and the ridiculous haircut (yes, I’m talking to you Raul Meireles) or during the game when they lose their head, again (Pepe) Footballers often show their intelligence in their actions.  You are on the biggest stage in World football.  Billions are watching.  Think what people will remember you for…

5. Never, ever agree to arm-wrestle a German girl – Even if they are much smaller than you and especially not for a beer.

It’s late, I need to sleep

The Beer World Cup

Whilst a nice cold Sagres went down well in the bar of the hotel it was the strong, rich Furstenberg in the German bar that won the day, emulating their performance on the pitch.

Germany 4 Portugal 1

My summer of love for the beautiful game

In last month’s excellent When Saturday Comes, Phil Town writes about the legacy of Euro2004 in Portugal.  In the article he explores in brief what has happened to the stadiums used for the competition and how today 40% are basically white elephants or millstones around the respective club’s necks.

In our eyes 2004 was the finest tournament we have ever attended.  We had fond memories of South Korea in 2002, and Germany in 2006 was everything you expected from the Germans, but 2004 beat all of them hands down for various reasons.  During the course of the tournament we managed to squeeze in twelve games in nine of the venues, met Anders Frisk (the Swedish referee), played a 100 v 3 football match with Portuguese fans, shared a sun bed with Sepp Blatter’s number two (a person not something left in a toilet), gatecrashed the biggest meat-fest known to man, and hit a ball harder than Roberto Carlos.  There wasn’t one day where something extraordinary didn’t happen.

But it was very clear back in 2004 at the tournament that some of the stadiums, whilst looking absolutely out of this world, would sit almost empty after the tournament.  Prior to the final group game in Leiria I climbed to the top of the Castle Hill overlooking the ground to get a view of the town.  In the middle of my eyeline was the stadium, the Stadium Dr Magalhães Pessoa.  We saw Croatia v France in the stadium, thanks to a free complimentary corporate ticket given to us by a suntanned young lady at our 5 star hotel.  “I really cannot be bothered with all this football” She told us as she sipped another cocktail.  The ticket bore the name of her “boyfriend’s” company on (no names but it was “Priceless”), and you got the distinct impression she was looking forward to the attention of one of the waiters for the afternoon whilst her beau was at the game. With the money we saved on not buying it from an official source we went straight and put our cash on a Croatia. The 30,000 all seater stadium cost the town over €50m and is one of the best looking you will see in Europe.  But with only 50,000 people living in the town, and a club who averaged just 2,500 surely this was just a folly? Continue reading