In an ironic turn of events, Friday’s Euro 2012 knock-out stage contest will feature Germany, the Group B winner, against Greece, the runner-up of Group A. On the surface, this match might seem insignificant due to Germany’s dominance in the tournament and Greece’s inferior soccer prowess. But, back home, the two countries are entangled in a much more important struggle.
Thus far, the Germans have made a strong case that they are the team to beat in this soccer tournament. They have won all three of their games in the group stage and collected the highest possible point total (9). In addition, they have dominated without playing too aggressive and committed the least number of fouls (27). Over the years, Germany has amassed the most Euro Cup championships (3), the most final appearances (6), and played the most matches (38).
The German team’s performance mirrors, in many ways, the country’s performance economically in Europe. By being conservative and deliberate — similar to their soccer style — Germany has become the undisputed leader in the European Union. It is their financial strength that other members of the Union depend on.
In comparison, the Greek performance during this year’s Euro Cup has been barely enough to advance them to the knockout stage. The team is tied for the fewest points (4) and is the only team with less than ten shots on goal. The Greeks have been overly aggressive resulting in the highest number of yellow cards (9), and they are one of three teams to have received a red card. Interestingly, the team has also suffered the highest number of fouls (58) by a margin of three.
In Greece, the economic situation is dire. The Greek government has spent money with abandon and has accumulated a dangerous level of debt. The country’s aggressive free wielding “live for today” mentality has brought it to the brink of insolvency. The financial community has penalized Greece with very high interest rates that have further burdened the country. It is now totally dependent upon Germany for its survival.
The soccer contest really has nothing to do with the enviable position of Germany, and the unfortunate condition of Greece off the field. Nevertheless, it is not far fetched to think that Germany wants to extend its real life superiority to the soccer pitch, while Greece would relish an opportunity to take it to their economic masters.
PolicyMic Pundit Sal Bommarito contributed to this piece