Sunday, June 13, 2010

Can a Machine Fly?

Germans play soccer well but no one has ever accused them of playing beautiful soccer. Words like "methodical" and "machine-like" have been used to describe the Deutsche brand of soccer. So it was a pleasant surprise to see Germans playing like Brazilians of yore when they dismantled Australia 4-0 in South Africa. In the most impressive victory in the World Cup so far, the set pieces they ran, the diagonal movements and the subtle and creative passes were more poem than prose. What a refreshing change!

Having seen the German team execute with such flair and finesse against Australia, I now think the team has a good shot at reaching the final. The veterans and the newbies played as if they have been playing forever. It is possible that the they were able to play so well because the Australians were so hopelessly outclassed but if the team keeps its poise and continues to have fun on the pitch, the trophy can be within reach.

I think one reason the Germans played so brilliantly was because of Michael Ballack's absence. I have always found this "superstar" overrated and a drag on German soccer. That he is out because of injury may turn out to be a blessing. Miroslav Klose can even close in on Ronaldo's tally of 15 goals if he continues his never-give-up style of play. Scoring a goal against Australia has certainly given the veteran forward a boost.

However, it has too often been the case that a team that roars in like a lion often goes out like a lamb. The reverse is true as well; you only have to think of Italy. If Germany can display the same flair against Serbia in its next match and win convincingly, naysayers will change their minds. Otherwise, the victory against Australia will be seen as a flash in the pan.

On a different note: It is clear that the vuvuzela drone by South Africans is drowning out the simple pleasures of soccer. This aural assault is turning out to be a torture. I suppose if someone wants to know what it feels like inside a beehive, the unmusical sounds emanating from these cheap and long plastic horns would offer an excellent simulation. But we don't care to be inside a beehive, certainly not when soccer is being played on a global stage

So, no offense to our fun-loving South African sisters and brothers, but please leave your vuvuzelas home when you come to the stadiums. Screaming your hearts out when the situation warrants (a goal scored, a glorious save) will do beautifully when you are watching the beautiful game. If you don't, we will take the ultimate step: We will petition Nelson Mandela.

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