The Huns

by Aleksandar Hemon | June 27, 2010

First of all, let me stand corrected: Germany is impressive. I am the last person in the world who would enjoy being wrong about the Germans. They were fantastic today and just gave a new meaning to the word hiding. They came away from the defeat against Serbia with increased mental strength so far beyond the English that it ought to be studied at the level of county league clubs. Ozil, Muller and Schweinsteiger ran rampant at a speed that was quite literally incomprehensible to the English midfield. Upson and Terry were embarrassing, Rooney did not complete a single pass and Barry had the kind of performance that normally ends international careers. The way that Ozil left him in his wake for the fourth goal exemplifies a difference in class, showing not only that Barry is overrated beyond words and would not last for a week playing for Wolfsburg, never mind Bayern, but that England simply does not have the players who can compete at this level. The way Klose brushed off Upson for the first goal, the way Khedira and the German defense won most of 50:50 balls, the speed and quick thinking of Schewinsteiger and Muller and Ozil—all that was far, far beyond the reach of the overpaid, overrated English players. Barry, Lampard, Gerrard, Milner ought to be punished by watching the footage of the German midfield taking them apart. 

What is interesting is how it happens time and time again: The press, the fans, even serious football people start believing that this generation of players is up for a great achievement, and then they buckle under any serious pressure. England's sense of greatness is habitually bloated and in each competition there is a point of humbling, but what lead up to and happened today should be an occasion for a major deflation.

Perhaps the difference between the Bundesliga and the Premiership is in the root of the difference in class between Germany and England. Unlike the Bundesliga, the Premiership is built on the money bubble, the inflated prices of players as well as tickets. German league football is at the steady high level year after year, with full stadiums, and more than four big-money clubs that can compete.

But the joys and perils of punditocracy is that one is often—indeed regularly—wrong. The upside of offering opinions is that they're like soap bubbles. There are always more coming. 

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