Cafes in the narrow cobbled street were occupied by either camp of genial beer-drinking fans. As the street filled up and drinks flowed, a large German flag had claimed the iron fence surrounding the ornate Neptune’s fountain. Nearby, Greek fans waving an even larger flag occupied the steps leading up the main town hall. On the Motlawa river bank, fans stopped to get their faces painted in team colors, with accordions being played in the background.
Confident German fans could plan ahead of Euro 2012 for a likely quarterfinal in Gdansk. Fans from the Greek Diaspora knew only last Saturday where to head after an upset win over Russia.
“I was actually happy for them (the Greeks) that they finally had something to celebrate,” said Stefan Leidig, a Germany fan from Koblenz. “Besides, I hope that they will manage to get out of the crisis at one point.”
Two days after being sworn into office, the prime minister of Greece’s new conservative-led coalition government is staying at home to work.
Antonis Samaras, a Harvard-educated former finance minister, is better employed stabilizing the country after a tense election last weekend than cheerleading at a soccer match, fan Thomas Nikolopulos said.
“I’m glad they are at home,” said Nikolopulos, who arrived on a morning flight from London.
Before Samaras met with lawmakers in Athens on Friday afternoon, he could read headlines fueling national wishes to repel German policy on the field: “Bankrupt Them!” read Greek paper SportDay, as Derby News repeated the Spartan motto “Come and Get it.”
“This is Greece’s opportunity to stand up and try to go back to being historical wonders,” he said, with a blue-and-white striped national flag draped across his shoulders.
Greece fans takes faith in their team’s surprise run to be Euro 2004 champion, founded on the same solid defense and dogged resistance shown by the current team in Poland. For three-time European champion Germany, the match seems more routine _ aiming for its fourth straight semifinal at each World Cup and Euro since Greece’s golden year.
“For me, it’s a normal football match,” said German fan Klaus Lehmkuhl, a technical consultant from Muenster. “I don’t think the politics is important for the German team.”
Still, some off-field tensions are expected when the German national anthem is played minutes before kickoff. And if images of Merkel sitting next to UEFA President Michel Platini in the VIP seats are shown on the stadium giant screens?
“There will be massive boos. I can’t see there not being some,” said Yiannis Televantibes, a real estate agent from London. “But there’s no problem between the fans.”
In Berlin, thousands of soccer fans waving German flags flooded the area in front of the landmark Brandenburg Gate. Organizers of the public viewing event said they expected around 400,000 to turn out to watch the match on large screens.View Entire Story
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