Saturday, May 17, 2014

Meet the Team: Germany

Nickname: Nationalelf (national elevento their countrymen Die Mannschaft (the team) to the rest of the world. The Germans are all business, there's a shock.

Nein, nein, nein!
Star: The Germans are stacked in the midfield, where studs like Lukas Podolski, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mesut Özil, Thomas Müller, Sami Khedira, and even rising stars André Schürrle, and Mario Götze. Rather than choosing between them all, I'll go the lame route and point out the keeper who ended Iker Casillas' reign as World Keeper of the year: Manuel Neuer who grabbed attention in 2010 and has held on to it ever since.

Hip-Star: With Germany taking only one proven striker (Miroslav Klose) to the cup, distribution and defense have never been more valuable. So we suggest you show off your arcane knowledge of German football by highlighting Mats Hummels, who paces things out of a Left Back position, and will have to hustle back in defense to keep up with speedy attacks from Portugal and Ghana (without the overexposed brother v. brother plotline of the Boateng brothers).

Great coach...better scarf model
X-Factor: The last four years have seen an unprecedented rise in stature for the Bundesliga going from European also ran (behind the Premiership, La Liga and Serie A) to an international force. Munich, Dortmund, Schalke, Leverkusen, every thing's going German of late, the more national team members prep against the world's best on a week in-week out basis, the better prepared they are to face international opponents (as Spain found after La Liga's rise in 2008).

Coach: An oddity in International futbol, Joachim Löw has managed the German national squad since July 13th 2006--making this the 8th year of his reign atop German football. Over that time he's 70-18-15, for a 68% winning percentage. That kind of methodical efficiency seems appropriate for Germany.

History: Since for the 1950 World Cup (when they were banned), Germany has been to 16 straight World Cups, winning 3 times and never finishing worse than 7th. In the last 12 years they've made three straight trips to the Semis and surely expect the same again, no matter how tricky their group draw may be.

What else do you need?
Food: Cased meats + alcohol = fine german dining. Bratwurst, beer, and I'm done.

Fool: Angela Merkel seems to be keeping Europe afloat through sheer force of will at some points (no matter how absurdly fond of Vladmir Putin former chancellors seem to be), so we won't dare dispute her awesomeness...but if we hear one peep out of ultra-nationalist Udo Pastörs calling Mesut Özil or any foreign born player a "semen cannon"...we may have to reinvade.

Best Case: It all unfolds like clockwork--dominance against a difficult group, barely breaking a sweat against whomever Groups H, E and F throw up in the knock outs. And then using focused precision to rattle a Brazilian team worn out by partying before reclaiming their rightful trophy atop Europe from Spain.

Worst Case: A stunner at the hands of some Group G upstart (maybe Portugal in the first match?) unsettles them and forces them to settle for runner's up, despite topping Belgium they can't figure out Argentina and crash out in a humiliating quarterfinal spot that sends confidence in Merkel plummeting and the Euro into total collapse.

My prediction: Die Mannschaft are as methodical and machine like as ever, even in the intimidating Group G. While they'll be the best of a good group, they'll be even better in the knock out stages, where a lighter load of rivals gives them a clear path to the Semifinals before butting heads with Brazil, and--yet again--taking 3rd place (this time from Argentina)

Added Bonus: Just to spite Udo, and to encourage more diversity on the German squad we offer a voice from the Turko-German Hip Hop scene: Eko Fresh with "Der Gerät"

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