Without going all Suzanne Vega (and, let’s be honest, the Sportsdesk can probably do without that) it can be good to have an outside, uncluttered view of things. Looking on from a distance as it were. I count myself as being incredibly lucky to be witnessing the inexorable march of the German national football team without getting caught up in the angst of being a supporter.
Did you notice the deliberate mistake in that opening gambit? No? Well, it was subtle but I’ll enlighten you. There appears to be absolutely and positively no angst involved in supporting the German national football team. As Ian Rush (unfortunately, because it’s a great quote) probably didn’t actually say of his time playing in Italy: “It’s like being in a foreign country.”
There was no gnashing of teeth, no panic. But there was also no hype, no bullshit. Just a wonderfully talented, young team going about their business, playing some beautiful football in the process, and winning every game that they can. Sure, they didn’t have the hardest group in the world (Belgium are still a bit young and flighty – they’ll get better – and Turkey are a team in transition at the moment), but 30 points from 10 games is not to be sniffed at.
Even the newspapers aren’t crowing like they would in England. It all just seems so easy to this team. They are awesome. Mesut Özil’s opening goal last night against the Belgians was a thing of brutal beauty. That it had come, seemingly just willed out of thin air after a sluggish start, made it all the more incredible. Müller hammered the ball low and flat into the box where Sami Khedira collected the return from his own shot and hit it back outside the box to Özil. He didn’t need a touch; he didn’t need to even think. Blammmmmmm, it went. Arrowing straight and true, squeaking under the bar into the top right hand corner.
“Außergewöhnlich,” as they say in German. “Extraordinary,” but it wasn’t. The extraordinary thing is the ordinariness of it all. These guys do this for fun.
There was a Khedira pass towards the end of the game, that Andre Schürrle just couldn’t quite get to in time, that eviscerated the Belgian midfield and defence as one. It was a straightforward ball, but the vision behind it was awesome. They just couldn’t get close to it. And to think that some of us said that they were stupid to go to Real Madrid.
The one black mark on the game was Manuel Neuer being beaten at his near post after flapping at a corner in a manner that looked a little too familiar for a man who is supposed to inherit Oliver Kahn’s gloves. Although the big man himself made a mistake in the world cup final, so maybe it’s okay really. In fact, sod it. This Germany team looks like it can give goals away for fun, if they have a force like Özil going forward.
And once again, Mario Gomez scored. The joke is getting past a joke, now. He is seemingly mocked by everyone, but the man simply will not stop scoring goals. The ‘keeper should maybe have done better last night, after getting a hand to his snapped at, left footed, shot, but it was too hard. It had the force of destiny behind it too. This guy just goes near the thing and it goes in. It’s scary.
From the outside I can enjoy all this. It’s great fun to watch a good team improve over time. It’s great fun to watch them swarm all over the opposition like bull ants over a carcass, picking the bones dry relentlessly, but methodically. It’s even more fun that the needle on the bullshit meter remains firmly in the green, and that, despite the fact that they are close to being the best team on the planet, they are not being held up as the best team on the planet.
England has got a lot to learn.