BERLIN - German newspapers on Thursday
mourned the country's 1-0 World Cup semi-final loss to Spain and
wondered what happened to the scintillating team that captured
the nation's hearts with their goal-filled run to the last four.
There was a mixture of admiration for Spain's dominance in
Wednesday's match in Durban but also a sense of bewilderment
about what suddenly went so wrong for a side that put four goals
past England and then Argentina in the previous two rounds.
"Aus der Traum" (The Dream is Over), the best-selling daily
Bild wrote in giant letters on its front page. "Caramba, were
Spain good! They deserved to win. But we're proud of our lads."
In its match analysis, the paper said:
"We lacked courage and cleverness. We didn't see any of the
'made-in-Germany' football that had so enthralled the world in
the previous matches. Too much respect for the big names? Or
were our heroes crippled by the high expectations?"
The conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ)
newspaper also put it succinctly in its page one banner
headline: "Spain too strong, Germany now aims for third place."
FAZ columnist Michael Horeni wrote: "Spain were too strong
an opponent to allow Germany, in their 12th semi-final
appearance, to advance to a World Cup final for an eighth time.
"In the duel, Germany were quickly put on the defensive and
never able to unleash their refreshing style of attacking
football that worked so well against England and Argentina. The
Spanish original was simply better than the young challengers."
Der Tagesspiegel in Berlin, like many newspapers, splashed
pictures of German fans weeping uncontrollably after the match.
Some 350,000 supporters watched on giant screens in central
Berlin with another 50,000 at Munich's Olympic Stadium.
"First high hopes, then huge disappointment," Der
Tagesspiegel wrote. "Germans were in a state of shock when Spain
scored. You could see the horror etched in the faces of the
hundreds of thousands of fans watching at the fan mile."
Millions of fans have packed public viewing venues. Dropping
their normal reluctance to wave flags, Germany supporters
wrapped themselves in the country's black, red and gold and
celebrated with an unprecedented level of patriotism.
Some in Germany wanted to blame Paul, an oracle octopus who
had correctly picked the winners of their first five World Cup
matches. Paul shocked the country on Tuesday by picking Spain.
Some Germans now want to see Paul publicly barbecued.
A record TV audience of 31.1 million (83 percent of the
market share) watched in Germany, topping the previous record of
29.6 million for the 2006 semi-final. Another 12 million watched
at public viewing venues around Germany.
Daily Die Welt wrote: "This young team played their way into
our hearts with elegance rather than drive. The multi-cultural
team changed Germany. We used to be a land of complainers and
pessimists. We're a different country now."
Guenter Netzer, an analyst for ARD television, agreed
Germany played poorly. The normally difficult-to-please pundit
had been astonished by their performances in the last two
matches and almost sounded resigned to their fate.
"It's impossible to keep getting better all the time,"
Netzer said. "After England and Argentina it would have been
just too incredible if there had been a further improvement
against Spain. It would have been eerie."
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