OK-so here I am in Innsbruck waiting to see what kind of football supporters Austria have-surprisingly quite a few came out, but they were like I expected. All cheers, had no real celebration, chants, or gimmicks. They looked like they just wanted to get dressed up a little bit, put a little paint on and go to a good party. The Croats, on the other hand, were coming out of the woodwork. Don’t know why there is a big community here (with game being played in Vienna). The Croats had some pretty scary haircuts but their women were pretty attractive. So the game was typically what I expected in the first 20 minutes. Croatia showed they have the midfielders and strikers that could move the ball forward at will and score not just a goal, but a pretty goal. Even though they ended up winning on a warranted PK, Austria got rid of the home opener jitters after 20 min. and exploited Croatia’s biggest weakness-DEFENSE. This is their Achilles heal and even Austria (who is ranked the worse team in Euro) showed how vulnerable they are. If Croatia, does not fix this, they will again dissapoint-even with all of the talent. They should still be able to get through with only Germany as other strong team in group.
I watched the first game in one of the Fan Zone public viewing TVs. We were elbow to elbow with all the locals combined with the local Croatians. Now we all know Europeans don’t shower much but imagine Europeans from the Austrian mountains combined with the fact that the sun was beating down hard and making them smell even worse. Don’t forget to add a gazzilion cigarettes and beer. No joke-95 of 100 would smoke. And light the next one without the first one finishing. For someone who is a former smoker and now only social one I can understand, but this was totally animal. So I decided to watch the next game to get away from the body oder at a popular brewhouse (but could not avoid the smokefilled environment). A bit quieter because most people were watching in thestreets. But this allowed me to focus better on the game. Which I wanted to see in detail because Germany is the favorite to win. So the Germans did what people expected-win-and not only win but also score more than one goal. A couple surprises on the German side was that Podolski was slotted as a left midfield/winger rather than as Klose’s strike partner (also not his natural position). Also, surprising was that Kuranyi was not in the starting line up; instead Gomez played striker. Ended up being great moves but Germany may switch Podolski for a defensive midfielder when they play a team that will give Germany real pressure. Poland had a couple good chances but in the end looked horrible. Not much else to say on this game.
PS. Locals in the bar said they did not want to be in streets watching the Germany game because they hate the Germans and always root for them to lose at anything (This is basically due to Austria being dominated by Germans in history!)
Day Before Group D games
So as I went to get by coffee and local baked goods this morning, it was clear that real football supporters had arrived. I heard mariachi style music and followed it; lnowing it was the festive Spainards parading in the streets. I also saw lots of pale people with brightt yellow shirts and beers in hand. No Swedish bands or instruments but they travelled in numbers and basically drink beer all day-cans while walking or half liters while sitting outside at cafes/pubs. Overall, the Swedes and Spainards are a fun bunch and not as scary looking as the locals. I am sure they will have hotties in their contingent by the time game starts tomorrow.