As I walked by the cafés and restaurants in the Münchner Freiheit and Schwabing sections of Munich, it was clearly WM (Weltmeisterschaft) season. Nearly every establishment had a wide-screen tv set up, and you could follow the game just by walking by one screen after another. And this was early afternoon, while Slovenia was beating Algeria. A few people were actually watching, but clearly the crowds were going to turn up later in the evening, when Germany played and won their first game. There are public viewing areas all over — even here in Austria, which didn’t qualify.
I have written before about how the different playing styles of many countries make for interesting watching even if your understanding of football doesn’t go very deep (and yes, I mean football, the term the rest of the world uses. That other sport is referred to as American football — there is actually a team in Innsbruck, I’ve heard. Probably I should go find one of their games someday.) Tonight Brazil plays North Korea — North Korea! I’m so curious to see what this going to be like. Are the North Koreans any good? Is there the remotest possibility that they could emerge from the group games and — goodness — play South Korea? (Not very likely, as they’d have to beat out both Brazil and Portugal to get there.) The Brazilians are good-natured and graceful, and consistently good. I have an image in my head of Boston terriers playing gazelles*.
I have no interest in league games, but when the Länderspiele begin, my eyes are glued to the screen, wherever that screen may be.
1:30 pm New Zealand – Slovakia
4:00 pm Ivory Coast – Portugal
8:30 pm North Korea – Brazil
* There are many athletes who’ve switched citizenship, so it’s no longer a matter of all ethnic Germans on the German team, or English on the English team, just to give two examples. But it’s a relatively safe bet to say that the teams from Brazil and North Korea are home-grown.