I grew up hating Germany, but at this time no other national team—not even Spain—provides more football-watching pleasure than Germany. For some time now, the Bundesliga matches have been compulsively enjoyable. Borussia Dortmund is fantastic, having built a core team from no-names, beating Bayern (spending money like crazy by German standards) as they wish. Most of the German clubs are in the black, the tickets are cheap, the stadiums are full and the football academies have been steadily developing young, exciting players. If you’ve watched the Bundesliga in the past couple of years, you know what amazing luxury is to have Reus or Götze sitting on the bench.
This generation of players has come of age. Jogi Löw is very smart and has imposed his vision, overhauling whatever was the German way of football. They’ve been impressive in South Africa, but had the bad luck of running into Spain in the semis. In this Euro, it is easy to see a narrative developing in which Spain relinquishes its crown to Germany, the future world champions.
They were impressive in the game against Greece (whose players grow beards in 90 minutes), the most impressive thing the patience with which they kept going at it with absolute confidence. That is, of course, the essential German quality—the confidence in hard work—and I used to hate it, because it went against my belief in the superiority of the unpredictable, lazy artist who turns a game with one brilliant move. But now they have Özil and Khedira, who are hard-working artists, and they play entertaining, flowing game.