Chennai: Football fans had to stay awake past midnight to watch Germany’s thrilling win over Sweden on Saturday. They wouldn’t mind losing sleep all night until July 15 if they got such compelling drama. It would be easier to say football won in the end but the victor was clearly Germany. To be more precise — Germany’s spirit.
After the end of the roller-coaster match, the camera panned to a middle-aged German fan who kept his mouth agape as if he had seen a three-legged man. That’s football. It was a mesmerising contest that made you feel part of the playing cast on the pitch. The German fan epitomised the emotions of football lovers all over the world.
After Toni Kroos scored a sumptuous winner at the death to give life to Germany, a commentator summed up the surreal night succinctly: When they are down, when they are tested, they find a way to win. Nobody could have defined Germany better.
After a 1-0 reverse against Mexico in the opener, Germany had been closer than ever to a host of dubious distinctions: losing two successive World Cup matches for the first time since 1958, losing to Sweden for the first time in more than 60 years, going out of the World Cup after the first round for the first time since 1938, not being able to top the group in a World Cup for the first time since 1986 and becoming the third successive defending champions not to survive the first round. Two disasters have been averted. Germany, as Germany always do, will fight to stay off the next three.
After losing possession carelessly in his own half that had resulted in Sweden’s goal, Kroos redeemed himself by scoring the exquisite winner. When Bulgaria’s Iordan Letchkov knocked out Germany 2-1 with a powerful header in the quarterfinal of the 1994 World Cup, the neutral world rejoiced with certain schadenfreude. Now, the tide has turned as there is nothing but universal appreciation for Germany’s verve, professionalism and optimism....