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As Gary Lineker once said, "Football is a simple game, 11 men vs 11 men over 90 minutes and the Germans win." You can forgive Lineker the bitterness as he has experienced losing to them in a semi-final at much closer quarters than any of the rest of us. Chris Waddle, if you're reading this mate, you are allowed to hate them too, but you probably won't because you are a nice bloke and as one of the few English players to successfully make the great leap out of parochial English football - along with Lineker - you will be a bit more worldly than that. The famous Ian Rush quote about his time at Juventus as "like being in a foreign country" is almost certainly apocryphal, but it doesn't make the truism any better in the fact that we all believed that he actually said it. He's a British footballer: of course he said it.
And there we have Germany's captain playing Champions League football in England and his likely replacement in the national team a young, dashing, long-haired, ball-playing midfielder with Tunisian roots. How did the Germans become so worldly? Not worldly like (Berlin-born) Kevin Prince Boateng, though, who couldn't make himself more unpopular here if he headbutted Lena Whateverhernameis from the Eurovision Song Contest and (instead of taking the decision to represent his father's birthplace and play for Ghana) winning the World Cup for King Otto's Greece. He will be lining up against Germany, against his brother Jerome and the gap that Michael Ballack's ankles would have filled had he not stamped on him in retaliation. I'm not that upset about the absence of Ballack, but it's a shame that the match will be missing a truly world class midfielder - Michael Essien is injured too (boom boom). Ballack's only redeeming feature is that he looks like my mate Kev; Sami Khedira could well be better.
The weird thing about this year's World Cup is that England has the oldest squad in it, and Germany has its youngest in 76 years. Schweini doesn't even want to be called Schweini anymore. He has some pretty big boots to fill in terms of leadership, along with new captain Philipp Lahm, but a team that has Marko Marin and Toni Kroos warming the bench is not going to be backwards in going forwards, so to speak. Mesut Özil has the talent to set the world on fire and Cacau or even Stefan Kießling are more than worthy replacements for the currently flailing Miroslav Klose who is looking like he might not even get the chance to get the five goals he needs to overtake Gerd Müller as Germany's highest-ever World Cup scorer. Holger Badstuber at left back is the weakest link in the chain (though, personally, I'm not entirely convinced by the junior Müller yet) and managed to make Antonio Valencia look like Garrincha in Bayern's semi-final against Man Utd.
So here I am in Germany for the World Cup with the humiliation being heaped and heaped on. I will be sticking up for John Terry as a man and Peter Crouch as a footballer for God's sake. I will, naturally, support a bunch of overpaid and oversexed (though certainly not over here) prima donnas, whose Italian manager could make the eponymous staue from Hank Williams' "Kaw-Liga" look charismatic, though possibly more inclined to action. This last point though is not too bad - witness Terry Venables making an arse out of himself in the latest Sun ad for a truly dumbfounding lack of self awareness. I'd suggest that with Ian Wright alongside him they represent a backwards step in evolution, but I'd only feel sorry for the fucking monkeys. He always would do anything for the cash would El Tel, and that's the way we like them. Just think, only two years ago there was a vocal minority of people who thought that Alan Curbishley should be the next England manager. At least he's bloody English, they muttered.
So what a turnaround. Maybe I won't be out of my seat for that Yordan Letchkov moment ("Yes, that's one for the fucking baldies!" roared my Dad, exploding upwards from the sofa, at that one) this year, but willing on a young, dynamic and attacking Germany in the company of my German friends. Or probably not. To pointlessly quote Method Man, "Did Pinocchio have wooden balls, man?" Which is a good question indeed. Some things are just too weird to contemplate. As an aside, I've just filled out my first wallchart and have got Italy to beat Mexico in the final in a month's time. Like a tasteful World Cup-related advert, that would really be a turn up.