First of all, congratulations to Brazil for winning their first ever Olympic Gold. Second of all, “Herzlichen Glückwunsch” to our guys for taking home Silver. Not only did our guys make the first Olympic appearance of a German team since 1988, that Silver is also the biggest Olympic achievement in DFB History*.
(*The GDR won Gold in Montreal 1976, but it’s an open secret that all Soviet Union states ran statewide PED Programmes. Therefore I can’t take any GDR medals serious.)
No one knew what to expect of Horst Hrubesch’s crew, that had just a week to get ready for Rio, therefore losing to the home nation on penalties doesn’t even feel like a real loss.
In the Gold Medal Match Germany hit the bar three times within the first half, but fell behind on a world class Neymar free kick. Nothing you can do about it.
We rallied back thanks to a glorious strike by skipper May Meyer and forced a shootout.
Nils Petersen missed, while Brazil was perfect from the spot. Nothing you can do about it.
I believe, that if those two teams play that match ten times, Germany would win at least seven. But on that night in the Maracana a magic moment from Neymar and a single missed penalty stood between us and the Gold. Which leads me to my next point.
Bringing an G36 to a Knife Fight
It was obvious that Brazil was “all in” for Rio 2016. Barcelona’s megastar Neymar Jr. skipped the Copa America Centenario in favour of the Olympics. On top of that Brazil brought Felipe Anderson and Marquinhos, seasoned veterans from European top teams. The rest of Brazil’s squad featured the best U23 players Brazil could find. While this team definitely wasn’t Brazil’s A squad, it was at least a B squad that had all summer to get ready.
Germany on the hand was missing everybody from the France 2016 roster. Gladbach and Hertha players were denied to go because of UEFA Qualification matches. Guys like Kevin Volland, who completed a move this summer and needed time to adjust, were also unavailable. Those three slots reserved for players over the 23 years age limit went to Nils Petersen (plays for newly promoted Freiburg) and the Bender twins, who are good players but pretty far away from making the actual Mannschaft. The rest of the squad was filled up with 2.Bundesliga or small club players, the broad German public has never heard about.
Oh by the way, during the first game in Rio our designated playmaker, Schalke’s Leon Goretzka went down due to injury. Silver is nice, but Germany could have taken home Gold as easy as buying it from a souvenir shop, had the DFB given Horst Hrubesch a little more talent to work with. That Brazil actually needed PK’s to beat that squad, shows how deep the talent pool in Germany is nowadays.
Brazilian Fans’ Enthusiasm Borders on the Rude
No offense to the vast majority of Brazilians, who are familiar with the concept of “Fair Play” and know how to carry themselves. But the booing, taunting and straight up bullying of foreign athletes was antagonizing theme in Rio. During the Gold Medal game this disrespectful behaviour obviously didn’t stop and the Selecao played along. The Brazilians were diving, play acting (like always) and wasted five minutes to celebrate their goal. During the PK shootout Brazil’s goalie Weverton tried to freeze out German players. When it comes to sportsmanship and fair play, South America in general is decades behind Europe. (Editors Note: Have to disagree strongly here. I can’t think of European fans being any fine example of sportsmanship when certain players of color are still booed and ridiculed in too many European stadiums and certain fans, like apparently a few Dynamo Dresden boys, think it’s a cool idea to bring a severed bull’s head into a stadium — they were playing RB Leipzig Saturday. Now THAT”s rude behavior IMHO).
Unfortunately, the football gods did not punish that shameful display. Brazil won by the smallest possible margin in the FIFA rulebook against a German D-Team, but fans in the Maracana acted like Neymar and co. had just won the World Cup, Super Bowl, Champions League and Formula 1 Championship on the same evening. Which is totally fine, good for them! Quick reminder though, this is how German players reacted after the 7:1:
However the Brazilian fans started to mock and boo our players as they were making their lap around the Maracana to pay respects to the host nation. Robert Bauer, a 21 year old player from FC Ingolstadt, who had never seen Neymar outside of FIFA 16 on Playstation, showed the crowd in Rio seven fingers to remind of the historic “7:1” in 2014.
This caused a little media controversy in Germany, because Bauer’s actions go against the “no fun allowed” ethical code of the DFB, where trash talking and showmanship are seen as bannable offenses.
My personal take: Screw it, sometimes what’s needed is a little “reality check”!
Bauer did the right thing, no German player should ever back down and take abuse, no matter whether his name in Robert Bauer or Jerome Boateng. I wish more “new generation” German players and coaches would stop being so nice, humble and respectful all the time.
Sometimes I really miss those old school “German a——s” like Oliver Kahn, Matthias Sammer and Stefan Effenberg. Oliver Kahn once got hit in the head with a Golfball in Freiburg and actually tried to beat up the guy who threw it, until Uli Hoeness held him back. Effenberg flipped off German fans for booing him at USA 94 and Sammer was a non stop trash talking machine in his prime.
On second thought, those three would have probably caused a Civil War in Rio that night.
Germany is now the undisputed #1 in International Football
Our men are the reigning World Champ and haven’t missed a WC or Euro semifinal since 2004, now they also won that Silver Medal with a short squad on one week of preparation. German women are 2016’s Golden Girls and have won every single European Championship since 1995 (a six-peat!!!). Our “Mädels” also won two of the four most recent Women’s World Cups, by the way.
People often talk about how great Brazilian, Spanish and Argentinian football is, but fail to mention that those nations are a total non factor in the Women’s Game. Then you have countries like Japan, USA or Sweden that field amazing female squads but will probably never win a male World Cup (Sorry Klinsi!). I’m not the biggest fan of the DFB, but whatever they are doing with the “Nationalmannschaften” seems to work pretty well.
Latest posts by Max Regenhuber (see all)
- 2017-18 Season Preview: Hertha Berlin — Keep Calm and Trust Preetz and Dardai - August 5, 2017
- 2016-17 Report Cards: Hertha Berlin - June 9, 2017
- Falling Behind? A Bundesliga-in-Europe Preview for 2017-18 - June 2, 2017