and here it comes

June 9th, 2006

And so it begins, June 9 2006, the World Cup kicks off. Eight years ago we had "uno dos tres, allez allez allez", but this time it's a promise of being "the time of our lives". Can Toni Braxton keep that promise?

In the land of samba they call it "the Brazilian Cup", starring "the 3 R's", Ro-Ro-Ro, and "the two K's", Ka-Ka. On the guest list, there is a wide representation of European nations, Germany being the only permanent guest. But in Brazilian charitable fashion, they accept that the inherently Brazilian tournament is hosted all around the world, even if they're not thrilled about some of the regulations that have come into effect. The first R explains: "half my moves are gone in these moon boots, why can't we play barefoot, are there no beaches in Germany?"

But the Germans have a different tradition. In an undisclosed location somewhere in the Reich, a dark concrete basement is lit up by free standing lamps. In the very center of the room is a large table populated with chairs, where "coach" Klinsmann labors over big blueprints of the Allianz Arena battlefield, surrounded by engineers, drawing and sketching on the paper. Behind them on the wall is a big steel frame holding a life size portrait of the legendary Kaiser the Bunkerbuilder. The World Cup organizing committee has taken steps to avoid any misunderstandings, every participating stadium carries the official sticker in the player tunnel: "No tanks".

On the banks of the river Seine, a far cry from the German military tradition, a late night vigil in Notre Dame is underway. The congregation joins in chant "lord, without you we are nothing, bless us with your splendor". Among them, a pair of young men, David and Thierry, join hands in the final prayer and repent their sins. Behind the altar, a short, gray haired man in glasses holds up the chalice and then drinks from it. Behind him, a great banner of our lord, Zizou.

The Italians have different ideas altogether. Like the valedictorian who worked so hard on his speech and then forgot his notes at home, Italian coaches have a proud tradition of throwing away their notes before the tournament and "going with what's familiar". That is stocking a tight defence, crowding the midfield and sending the Big Man up front to score. A tactic that brought one Egil 'Drillo' Olsen so much fame and admiration. Meanwhile, the Azzurri faithful is almost done preparing their support banners to go on display in Germany. This time they have united under a common theme, choosing different ways of expressing the same sentiment to the world: "stop cheating us!"

Don't miss it, kickoff tonight at 18:00 CET.

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1 Responses to "and here it comes"

  1. erik says:

    hehe Italians...