Deutschland - auf Wiedersehen!

The Croatia-Germany game has left me emotionally exhausted. And Croatia plays Poland today, while I am on a flight - perhaps it is for the best that I have a break from watching one of Croatia's European Cup games.

When I started watching the Croatia-Germany game, I analyzed it this way: if Croatia scores a goal, that is an accomplishment. If Croatia wins, that is a decisive accomplishment in the history of the Croatian National Football Team.

At about 15 minutes into the game, I realized the Croatian side was passing the ball into space, creating space, crossing the field, and closing down Germany's sides. I thought, hmm, maybe I was too conservative in my estimates. But, maybe not, we'll see, I still expected Germany to score first. I was also pleased that hadn't happened. I think Croatia played rather composed, which helped. Croatia was not the underdog in the game, they were not the least favorite.

Then at around 18 minutes, I realized Croatia was creating momentum and that they would probably score. I just hoped that, if they scored first, they could continue the challenge - they would not be content with that. They needed to keep playing as if they had nothing to loose.

Then Croatia scored, and I realized that we would probably win the game. That was my instinct. It was a beautiful goal. I kept hoping we would score again, at the end of the half, but it did not materialize, in spite of some very good looks at the goal. So, I had the feeling we would win, but I did not like seeing some of the lost chances.

Then, Croatia scored in the second half. It was euphoria - it was a declaration that the first half was not an accident. It was a declaration we were taking risks and we could execute plays. We had confidence. Germany scored - their adding the substitute helped them - and they took the momentum for a few moments - but Croatia slowed their sides. Croatia's footwork and passing was very strong. The players also managed the space on the field to their advantage. I think Croatia's side won many individual tackles, and that added up to the team's advantage.

I liked watching the manager, Slaven Bilic. I liked it when he lost his religious charm and he picked it up on the ground and kissed it in a ritualistic way to cleanse it from the ground and then placed it in his pocket. I found out after that the charm / object has the image of Pope John Paul II. I have no idea if Bilic is a devout Catholic, it does not matter, it is cool that Bilic did that.

It was exciting to watch, I ended the day feeling as if I had witnessed history. Sports history, perhaps that is not the history of textbooks. It is the history of the popular imagination. There is a feeling of pride. There is a feeling, we are part of Europe, we can contend, this shouldn't be a surprise.


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