The two most successful national teams in Europe face each other for the thirty-second time. However, in World Cups and European Championships, it’s always been a one-way trend.
Italy and Germany are two countries with intertwined football destinies. Each has won the World Cup in each other’s home, and very often their duels give way to breathtaking spectacles, which have ended up creating the biggest rivalry in European international football. However, the worst thing when you go to see a highly anticipated show, is knowing how it ends. Because it spoils the taste of the whole thing.
The Italy and Germany games have been just that: epic events, great games of football, sometimes even unforgettable ones that made history (remember the “Game of the Century” in the World Cup of Mexico 1970?), but very often ending the same way: with a victory for the Azzurri and an often painful, “unexpected” defeat for the Teutons.
Tonight the two most successful national teams in Europe meet again. The matchup history is lopsided to say the least: fifteen wins for Italy, nine draws, and seven wins for the Germans. An already impressive series of numbers that just pales in front of the next one: Germany has 0 wins in the eight official games (World Cup or European Championship), in which they only managed four draws. Is this all? No, not really. The four draws came all in group stage games, whilst the four wins for the Italians all came in knock-out rounds (the last being in the Euro 2012 semifinal). The last time Germany beat Italy in football, Mario Balotelli was yet to start school (2-0 in 1995). The numbers speak for themselves, but no real logic speaks for the numbers.
There can be only one explanation for a 90 year long trend that evades the rules of statistics, especially when considering the comparable strength of the two teams: the Germans fear the Italians.
But why is that?
Germans are known to be a people of reason and logic, highly organized and rational. If they face another country whose shape is that of a boot at a sport called football, they must be in trouble. It wouldn’t make sense to beat them, something would be wrong. Therefore in reality they don’t lose against Italy, they let Italy win for the sake of logic.
If you thought that the defeats of 1970 and 1982 in the World Cup (semifinal and final respectively) have something to do with this, you’re wrong. Germans know that people hate to lose, and that when they lose they get mad. Having had a chance to see a real Italian explode in rage after a defeat, they probably decided that it was better not to see that happen again. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at the video.
Is it just a coincidence that since Herr Trapattoni’s era at Bayern ended, Germany never won again? I don’t think so.
Italians can have negative effects if taken too often, especially Italian football players. This is the only conclusion we can draw when we consider that the country of Bach and Wagner could not only produce, but accept and welcome with excitement a song that would make Nena blush: Matze Knop’s hit “Numero Uno”, dedicated to Italian striker Luca Toni.
Germans fear the possible side effects during each encounter, and this obviously influences their performance.
Jokes apart, Italy and Germany wouldn’t be what they are without each other, and football fans should feel blessed to being able to witness such an intense rivalry. Tonight, a new chapter will be written, but to slightly paraphrase Gary Lineker’s words, football is a simple game: “22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end… the Italians win.”
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