This Bulletin is from June 12th, 2006

Sun, schnapps and English efficiency

Jawohl! The World Cup went off to a great start. All grounds are finished on time (yes, such a thing is possible), the transport system works impeccably, the locals are welcoming and the sun has got its hat on. The Fatherland did itself proud. Again.

I was so nervous the night before the opening match that I could hardly find any sleep. By 4am I was so fed up with rolling round the bed worrying whether all those dumb foreigners would value the opening ceremony’s oompah bands, that I had to get up and down schnapps in order to find my inner peace.

I’ll fly out to Germany today, so I had to watch Germany’s first match in London, at the Goethe Institut, the German cultural embassy. Well I say ‘cultural embassy’…cynics might say the institute promotes a high-brow society that hardly any German recognizes. Unless both your parents were philosophy lecturers and had a piano and boring books in the living room that is.

As great a success as the opening ceremony was, I was far from happy with the match. Scoring four is all good and well but conceding two against the Sunday League side that is Costa Rica is shocking. And please don’t get me started on the received wisdom that an opening game is always difficult, because I’m sure you’ll find that a final is usually even more difficult. Unless you’re Man United and get Millwall in the FA Cup.

I’m a firm subscriber to the idea that a good attack wins you matches whilst a good defence wins you the title. Keeping a clean sheet is imperative and England should therefore take a lot of pride out of their 1-0 victory against Paraguay. I particularly liked England’s complete lack of unnecessary flair. Football is not about entertainment, football is about winning. And that is exactly what England did.

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