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Germany Takes Charge in Europe

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If anyone is in the position to get people off their duffs and back to work, it's Germany. But Germany refuses to do so, and thus the whole continent of Europe is sitting at home instead of working -- all to watch this powerhouse play in Group B of the European Championship. Countless work hours are being wasted. Some are saying a whole new generation of workers will be lost because of Germany, which could capture the attention of the entire continent.

In a replay of past games, the outcome was austere for Portugal, which didn't score a goal. Mario Gomez scored the lone goal for Germany in the 72nd minute, as Germany too cut back on the goal scoring. The game featured a flurry of late chances for Portugal and their star Cristiano Ronaldo, but in the end Germany contained them economically, saving their energy for the next round. The Portuguese aren't as rabid followers of their team, apparently, as reports have been coming in they they just shrugged off the austerity.

One wonders if the eventual showdown will be between Spain and Germany, and what a show that would be. I wouldn't be surprised if Germany prevailed again. Sure, Germany might spot Spain some points, maybe even let them take a few to the bank, but it's unlikely that Spain will emerge victorious despite their once immaculate status and surplus of talent.

"The idea that Germany would bail out Spain and let Spain thrive as they did in past European Championships and in the World Cup is preposterous," said a Spanish supporter I ran into while watching the Germany game against Portugal. I translated with my scant knowledge of Spanish. I am indebted to him for his insight about this championship tournament but he didn't want his name mentioned, preferring to say, "I am one of the indignant!" It seems everybody's upset with Germany's recent success. "Here is an Ativan," I told him. "It helps with that."

Germany's done this sort of thing before, winning the European Championship in 1988. They've also won multiple World Cups. Recently they placed third in the '06 and '10 Cups and second in the '02 Cup. They finished runner-up in the '08 European Championship. After the global depression that ensued when fans realized their teams wouldn't be competing as well as Germany, Germany took advantage to get as good as possible -- and win over the captive Europeans.

The indignant Spanish supporter told me, "It's their way or the highway at the ECB"--or European Championship Bar, as the O'Doul's tavern in downtown Chicago has become known as expats and soccer fans flock to O'Doul's big screen HD TVs to soak up the games. Indeed, the policy seems to be that the ECB should be stocked with German supporters as it was when I visited.

A German supporter named Hans Habermas, sporting a colorful scarf bearing the German colors, told me, "The Gretchenfrage is whether Germany can enforce its offense on other countries and whether those countries will grow... frustrated with our defense." I had to look up what Gretchenfrage means online because it wasn't in my sports dictionary. Now I'm much clearer on what he was saying. You see, as my computer tells me, "Die Gretchenfrage bezeichnet eine direkte, an den Kern eines Problems gehende Frage, die die wahren Absichten des Gefragten entlarven soll." At least that's the core of it.

One might think there would emerge a common European bond to back all the countries, a sportsmanship that celebrates the love of the game. But so far that has not proven feasible with hostility running as high as it does today. One hopes a fight doesn't break out between these restless supporters as it often does. We'll see how things turn out. Germany plays the Netherlands next on Wednesday. Budget for Germany to take charge.