Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Cold-Blooded Executioners; in Simply One of the Greatest World Cup Games Ever, the Germans Cruelly Crashed out to Italy's Late Show

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Cold-Blooded Executioners; in Simply One of the Greatest World Cup Games Ever, the Germans Cruelly Crashed out to Italy's Late Show

Article excerpt

Byline: IAN CHADBAND

Semi-final Germany 0 Italy 2 (Grosso, 119) (Del Piero, 120)

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WHEN the hosts of a major football championship get knocked out, an overwhelming passion in that tournament inevitably always dies. Yet as a nation awoke today to find their party was over, gatecrashed by Italy's coldblooded and blue-blooded late show, the overriding feeling here was not of something lost by Germany but of something discovered.

For though it's the Azzurri who now progress to Sunday's World Cup final in Berlin, sensing destiny must push them to a fourth title after two goals in the dying minutes of extra time sealed victory in what Pele hailed the game of the championship, Jurgen Klinsmann was left articulating what every German felt about the team who'd provided a country with more than just a new brand of vibrant football.

"We wanted to be an attractive team and good hosts and we showed a new German face to the world, presenting the country as open-minded, welcoming and friendly. And though we didn't achieve our objective of winning, we can be very proud of that," reckoned Klinsmann, himself a youthful reflection of the footballing and social revolution here.

"I think it's fantastic what we've seen happen over this past few weeks and it's wonderful that football is able to stir these emotions, bringing people together and creating wonderful moods and atmospheres."

Nobody who's been part of the monthlong festival could disagree and as the bereft thousands melted into the steamy Dortmund night, their misery was softened by genuine pride.

"With the heart, spirit and vibrancy shown by this team, we've every reason to feel confident about our footballing future," as Klinsmann put it. "We've seen players grow and develop such quality in such a short time, that we must be optimistic."

Whether he'll be part of that future is another matter, with speculation growing that he will quit the job after Saturday's third-place playoff. Yet if he does, he will have left an exciting legacy which Sven-Goran Eriksson could only have dreamed of in English football.

In the suffocating Westfalenstadion, you could only drool with envy over the pace, precision and technical quality of the fare on offer. Either of last night's combatants would have been far too fit, cohesive and accomplished for Eriksson's men.

Ultimately, though, it was Marcello Lippi's Italy who possessed the class to deliver one of the modern game's great achievements - becoming the first team ever to beat Germany in Dortmund while in the teeth of the country's noisiest and most forbidding stadium. Did Klinsmann say " welcoming and friendly"? He forgot the deafening jeering of the Italian anthem.

"An amazing achievement," said Lippi, almost underselling it, since nine of the 14 who played last night had heard only a few hours earlier that the prosecutor in the match-fixing trial back in Rome had recommended harsher than expected punishments should their clubs be found guilty. …

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