I've arrived in Germany and will watch the competition with my knowledgeable brothers and friends. I will describe my impressions as the drama unfolds and invite readers to join the conversation.
A few remarks up-front on the mood here when it comes to the chances of the German team. Last year ended on a high when Germany convincingly beat the Netherlands in a friendly 3:0. Together with the impressive way in which the side had played during the qualifiers, where they won 30 matches in a row, this victory generated an almost boundless optimism in the country. However, this mood has become much more guarded because of a series of setbacks that happened since the start of 2012. The team lost two friendlies, first to France at the beginning of the year and then to Switzerland, where the second loss was particularly embarrassing. In both matches, the defense (which used to be the strong suit of German teams in the past) proved vulnerable and even now, two positions in the back four (the Viererkette - chain of four - as it's called in German) are still open, an unheard of situation for a German team.
[See also my post from last December!]
True, the Bayern Munich players who form the backbone of the German side were missing from the team that lost to Switzerland. But this is small consolation because the psychological makeup of these very players suffered a severe blow when they lost the final of the Champions League, the most prestigious annual team competition in Europe, to Chelsea of England on May 19. The Bayern players were clearly in shock afterwards because they had been the better team throughout the game and gave the victory away on several occasions, most spectacularly in the final penalty shootout. The whole nation is asking itself: Did the Bayern players have enough time to get over it and be at their best again only a few weeks later?
If we look at the bright side (remember, I'm in the Rhineland where one always looks at the bright side!): It's these very questions that create a palpable sense of suspense in the country now that the competition is about to start.
NPF: OH, THE PLACES YOU'LL GO
5 hours ago