WORLD CUP 2006: Ringside view - Good Press for German Squad

BERLIN: European editorials commented on Germany’s dramatic loss to Italy in Tuesday’s World Cup semi-final match, with most papers giving Germany full marks for a job well done.

In a display of sportsmanship, Berlin’s Morgenpost allowed readers a moment of sadness, but only a moment. “The close defeat doesn’t hurt,” the paper said, “because the German team achieved so much.”

“These players didn’t just come out ahead of strong nations such as Brazil, Argentina, and the Netherlands - their appearances were also really enjoyable.

They also changed the people in this country, at least for three and a half weeks, leaving them happier, more relaxed and more confident.”

“We’re crying with you,” read the headline in the popular tabloid Bild Zeitung, “but you’re still heroes!” The paper was full of encouragement after the bitter defeat, and full of confidence that Germany “will take third place on Saturday, and not complain. To Klinsi and all the boys, we say, thank you for this wonderful World Cup. What has grown in the last couple of weeks will remain. The Germans have re-discovered a love for their country and their team,” Bild wrote.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung commented on the achievements of Jurgen Klinsmann, writing that the passionate soccer that brought Germany so much joy is a victory that no one can take away. The California-based national trainer must now decide whether he will continue in his role, the paper said.

“Thanks to Klinsmann, German soccer gained an unexpected easiness and a new perspective. Not to use this, to let the flame die, would be a much greater loss than the defeat in the semi-final match - with or without Klinsmann.”

Outside Germany, Britain’s Daily Mirror commented on the Italian team, saying that Tuesday’s victory would go a long way in redeeming Italy in the wake of the soccer corruption scandal that “infected the soul of the nation... They came as the pariahs of the world, the men who represented everything that football wants to forget about the dark side of the beautiful game,” the paper wrote.

“But on Sunday, it is Italy who will march into Berlin’s Olympic Stadium, their chests puffed out with pride, their honour restored, their courage rewarded.”

The Guardian of London commented that Germany has been “brusquely shaken awake from its World Cup dream,” but said that the team can hold their heads high. “Throughout the World Cup they played intelligent, aggressive football,” the paper said, adding that Tuesday’s game could have gone either way. “Afterwards there were tears in the Westfalenstadion and across the country, but better this death than meek surrender.”

And as to be expected, Italy’s press was full of praise for the men in blue. “Wonderful Italy,” wrote Rome’s La Stampa. “Grosso and Del Piero have given us the finals, we’re going to Berlin,” the paper said.