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Italy beat Germany. Whooped thier Allemanic behinds 2-0.

This time, instead of nodding off into a Negroni in New York, I watched the game in Milan’s Piazza Duomo.

Jumping along with 50,000 azzurri fans and a small clutch of Germans in a crowd that sang for nearly the duration of the game and saw fit to set off fireworks, undisturbed, every now and then.

All together now…

There was no way to enlist anyone to go with me, though. The web of interlocking superstition (“I can’t see it in the square. Last time I did, we lost.” or “Sorry, I have to see it with my cousin. I didn’t and they lost”) kept everyone wherever they were the last time the Italians won.

It was a triumph of skill over might: the Italian team was about five years older – in sports years, an eternity – but all that frisky to-and-fro-ing before overtime couldn’t save the German whippersnappers from two beautiful goals: An elegant one by Alex Del Piero, an ancient 32, more known of late for talking to a sparrow in annoying bottled water commercials than brilliant play, and a “wait, did I just do that?” score from defender Fabio Grosso.

This normally buttoned-up city erupted into a celebration that went on well after 1:30 a.m., when I finally decided to call it a night. Imagine a giant, collective wedding: drive around town, honk, wave, scream and know you’ll get smiles and cheers back. Traffic clogged the ring roads, flags were everywhere, bad driving and drinking in public were part of the fun.

Beating the Germans was almost enough. Of the four final teams, three are Mediterranean. While the Italians, French and Portuguese have accrued plenty of reasons to dislike each other over the centuries they are cultural cousins, one may be a bit full of himself and the other on the morose side, but, hey, they are family.

Germany is one of those sad countries that virtually no other country holds in sympathy. Stretching it, you could take the antipathy back to the Goths, or just to WWII. The World Cup theme for this year is “say no to racism” but German police were ordered to ignore taunts by British fans from the Hitler era. Most Italians, though, have more pungent memories of the brawn and brain drain of Italian emigrants to Germany from the 1950s to today.

That said, Italians will have no problem whipping up a bit of healthy hatred for the French in the final match. Italians are still smarting over the losing the EU championship to the chaps over the Alps in 2000 and the World Cup in 1998 — both times thanks to penalty kicks.

And between Les Bleus and Gli Azzurri, who gets to wear the blue uniform and who will be forced to wear the default white one? We shall see.

Share  Posted by Nicole Martinelli at 1:02 AM | Permalink

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