David Hirshey is writing throughout the World Cup.
Now that we've gotten rid of all the riff-raff — the Americans and their MLS-worthy skills, the Spanish and their hateful monkey-chanting fans, the Oranje, who we now know REALLY is made up of red and yellow, and a couple of whistle-happy referees who I trust have been shipped off to Gitmo — and now that Dave O'Brien and 'Celo have been deported from Germany (oh wait, that was just a dream) ... what are we left with?
Well, some kick-ass soccer, for one thing. I don't know about you, but I've been unable to detox from the World Cup even on days where there are no games. Fortunately I've been able to pore over my old Deadspin posts and relive all the hilarious "Hirshey squirts" jokes. But even those bon mots don't compare to the febrile anticipation I feel as I await today's quarterfinal between Germany and Argentina, those proud soccer uber-powers and, of course, two of my favorite places to go look for war criminals in the off-season.
(C'mon, you knew I was going to shtup in one Nazi joke in a Germany-Argentina preview. I promise I'm done, though — unless the Germans advance).
This is a matchup to savor, one that, if the brackets had been different, could easily have been the final, just as it has been twice before. Argentina won in 1986, Germany four years later. History favors Argentina, which hasn't lost to Germany in 16 years, but location favors the Germans, who are riding a flag-waving, horn-tooting, anthem-singing wave of nationalistic fervor not seen since the Wall fell in 1989. "We are very confident," warned German coach Juergen Klinsmann, who has morphed from California surfer bum pariah to swashbuckling messiah in the space of four emphatic victories. "We will go in with total aggression and total passion, and we'll see how Argentina reacts."
Klinsmann, a lively, stylish goal-scorer in his day, has rebuilt the Mannschaft in his image. Where once Germany relied on its ruthless power and unrelenting work rate to steamroll opponents into submission, it now attacks with verve and precision. Miroslav Klose (or as he's known on Der Deadspin, "The Closer") and Lukas Podolski are the main predators, but it's the captain and Chelsea midfielder — oh how it hurts to type those two words — Michael Ballack who drives the team forward. As always, the Germans are well-organized at the back with big, strong Teutonic specimens (their two central defenders stand 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-3), but that length and physical menace, which hold them in good stead in aerial battles, can expose them when faced with fast, tricky forwards.
Costa Rica's Paulo Wanchope burned them for two goals in the opener, and Argentina has a quartet of gunslingers — Crespo, Saviola, Tevez and Messi — more lethal than him. They also have the great Riquelme, who was the fulcrum of that now legendary 24-pass movement that basically separated Serbia from Montenegro once and for all, and Maxie Rodriquez's electrifying 30-yard volley against Mexico still stands as the goal of the tournament. Oh yes, did I mention that both their coach Jose Pekerman and their captain Juan Pablo Sorin are Jewish, according to New Republic striker Franklin Foer via Goal Post. Not that that stuff matters to me, but it might spell the end for Maria Mueller.
You might remember that Frau Mueller, 94, was recently found slumped over in her chair by her son. A doctor was summoned and after checking her pulse, declared her dead. That's when Frau Mueller reportedly sprang up from her chair like Klose in front of goal and declared "Not likely, not until I see if Germany wins the World Cup. There's still life in these old bones yet."
Enjoy the game, Frau Mueller, there's always 2010.