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Those wretched Germans. Not content with going round winning tournaments, getting to semi-finals and so on, they've now started subverting our much-loved national stereotypes.
I mean, what are European football championships for, if not for jocose exchange of saloon bar slurs lobbed at our near neighbours; the cool, unemotional Swedes, the Italians who don't-like-it-up-'em, the Scots who, er, don't turn up, those people?
In these circumstances, you will know that le mot juste when talking about Germany - das richtige Wort, as they like to put it - is "efficiency."
I always put myself on "efficiency" watch when Germany are in action; but lo and behold, in the quarter final against Italy, they go and miss an unprecedented three penalties. I had to wait until BBC Breakfast the next day before the efficiency bomb was cracked open. Over footage of Boateng handling the ball in the penalty area, the newsreader began his report, "The Germans, usually so efficient at defending…." (And invading Poland, annexing the Sudetenland etc., by implication).
That's more like it. And bless Antonio Conte, Italy's demonstrative manager obligingly living up to every cliché about those emotional, effusive, Latin types; kicking every ball on the touchline, gesticulating wildly, joining his goal-scoring hero in a crazy group hug. Short of breaking into a chorus of O Sole Mio in his technical area, he couldn't have been more Italian.....
If you want the rest of the column, it's on sportingintelligence.com from 10am Monday. The old ones are there too.
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