I rate that one a solid 8/10. Rattling crossbars. Bloody heads. A meaty geopolitical backstory. Sweaty coaches: Joachim “Es ist nicht ein Fashionmullet!” Loew, guiding the Mannschaft home, if you know what I mean; and that Turkish fella. That Turkish fella! Can we get him in MLS like yesterday, please? A blown penalty call, which I forgave the referee for immediately because the victim was Phillip Lahm (and because I would totally “switch” for that referee). Another one of Turkey’s October surprises, undone by same.
Yes, this game pretty much had it all, or at least that’s what I was able to discern amid the frequent interruptions in service, caused by lightning strikes attracted to the titanium android carapace concealed beneath Michael Ballack’s “human skin.” I started out a mildly pro-German neutral (you could call it the “Hungary 1939” model), but whore that I am I soon switched to backing the Turks. For one thing, they played by far the better football. For another, so many of my fellow Americans down at Kells were backing Germany that I got annoyed. How boring and Europhile. It was also a joy to see Jens Lehmann, a rude and ungentlemanly character who is (he said in a self-righteous tone of voice) just not a good team player, so comprehensively befuddled. In the first half, Turkey were composed when they needed to be and brassy when they wanted to be.
But they forgot one iron rule of international football: to beat Germany, it’s not enough to outplay them. You have to jam a wooden stake into the Thing’s heart and cut off the head—otherwise, the Thing keeps lumbering at you, jumping up at sky-balls like a dog playing Frisbee. And indeed, even after Turkey stung back with the late equalizer, Lahm—who bugged me throughout but ended up playing an intriguing anti-heroic role that I must respect—converted his chance with the lethal, coldblooded mindlessness of a warrior insect. Spain and Russia, you’re on notice: plan to score 20.