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As I had not been around Germany or background-providing international tv, I was seeing all this for the first time: those masses of people standing at roadside, cheering to the bus with the German team on their way to the hotel or the stadium. Or those kids who stragely found their way into the German national team, at a level of intellectual maturity that allows for some future improvements. Or the machinery surrounding such a pro-football squad, with redecorations of five-star hotels, little Swiss fellas providing in-depth knowledge about every single opponent ("Costa Rica players just enjoy playing football and don’t want to get into trouble with the referee"). The national hysteria that apparently infected every single one, be it policeman or teenage girl.

If the intention of Soenke Wortmann when editing this film was to conserve the good spirit and make it available on-demand (by inserting the DVD), I guess this has failed. from the disctance, this looks just like what it probably was: mass hysteria. Excellent atmosphere, of course, with a bit too many German colours around for my taste, with too many "Schweini"-shouts (I wonder whether it still affects the poor guy) and too much off-topic herocism. From a purely football point-of-view, that World Cup was a bit dull, with high quality defensive action, but little inspirational moments. After having reached the final in Korea and Japan last time, when still managed by Rudi Voeller, the much younger team under Juergen Klinsmann has now, playing at home, finished third. That’s not bad, but did not South-Korea achieve the same last time round?

Watching backstage football (as any sport, I reckon) is a very sobering experience: the staff off and on the pitch is usually not of the most sparkling conversationist qualification (with remarkable exceptions, to be fair), the motivational tricks applied are of the kind that would be considered embarassing in other circumstances. ("Da brennt der Baum! Wir lassen uns das nicht wegnehmen, schon gar nicht von den Polen! Los, Maenner!"). But good fun to watch them, certainly: Jogi Loew with his funny orange hood-shirt, looking as if he wishes to be 20 again. The highlight of the film surely is Klinsmann sitting in his living room overlooking some Californian beach, insisting that the Germans should overcome their permanent complaints at how hard and arduous times and life are. Indeed. One wonders how intentional it was to film it exactly that way. Hopefully there was a bit of irony in it, because this is something the film lacks otherwise. Or how can Oliver Bierhoff, surely fully grown up by now, seriously torture his "Jungs" ("Maenner" is what only Klinsmann dares calling them) in such an important tournament with Xavier Naidoo’s breathtaking musical atrocities? One could argue that now we know why the team lost against Italy – their nerves were wrecked by musical sabotage!

Nowhere near the quality of the french predecessor film of ’98, but still an interesting picture, hopefully also available in international distribution sometime. At them moment, I cannot find any English-language reviews of this, so apparently, the distributers did not find the film to have a quality of its own. A bit sad for a well-reputed filmmaker such as Wortmann. Some links to German reviews are here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0853060/externalreviews

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