Before France played Brazil, I told my mum that France would win. I was proved right. And before Germany played Italy, I told her that Italy would win. Why did I think a scandalised Italian team would beat an invigorated Germany? Because the Italians are the kings of the soccer punch, pun intended. The Italians are the most ruthless in world football, and if any team would beat Germany in Dortmund where the German team had never lost before, it would be Italy. They might not have the Ronaldinhos or the Zidanes of this world, but boy they can make an opponent cry.
In Dortmund, the Azzuris sang the national anthem like no other team at this competition. To them, the words weren't just sweet nothings about how they love their country, but a battle cry to smother the Teutons to the north. It was difficult to believe the vast majority of the 65,000 capacity crowd were supporting the other team. They were so brazen. Cannavaro did what he's done all tournament, defended like his life depended on it. He organised the defence like Caesar would have organised onslaughts on the rest of Europe. His tackling and presence must have been intimidating for the German team.
And then there was Pirlo. Pirlo ran. And ran. And ran. The man was a dynamo with the Energizer Bunny cranking his internal wheels. We had to leave the stadium before the final whistle, so we didn't see anyof the goals. But we could feel the sigh when Germany lost. 2-0. 119th and 120th minute. Ouch. "Shaizer Italien" replaced "Fahre nach Berlin" (going to Berlin), which has become the chanson du jour. Instead, they fahre nach Stuttgart for the third place play-off match. A bit of despondence, but nevertheless a proud nation. The flags kept flying and a song was never far from their lips. And after a four weeks of the German Woodstock, the clichés trickle in. It's only football. You can't win them all. We'll be back. All good things must come to an end.