The new Germany might be weary of hearing about the new Germany — as I’m a bit weary of writing it — but boy, did it get a showcase Saturday at Wembley.
That great big gasp of a Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund not only stoked Gus Johnson toward frontier octaves, but it reiterated the bygone death of bygone thoughts.
Once upon a time last century, a German soccer day might bring a sigh for its promise of cautious competence over audacious flair, but nowadays it’s an exciting, cosmo country that just held up both ends of an exciting, cosmo match in exciting, cosmo London. Once upon a time this century, Germany’s Bundesliga qualified as an afterthought, but now, well, get me a map and a train pass. Once upon a time last century and this century, I felt respect but not enticement about watching Germany’s national team; now that notion, too, has croaked and I feel both.
So after 12 German players lined up among 22 starters Saturday in London, this final between the Bundesliga champions and runners-up majored in riveting boldness. Players seemed to fly around everywhere. On the 72nd minute when Bayern’s Thomas Mueller ran free on the right and crossed to Arjen Robben only to have Neven Subotic thwart it with the last possible thrust, the thing was officially a great big goose bump.
Robben’s winning goal on 89 minutes was a beauty, and it moved the heart to see such bounty come to such a perpetually charming figure.
I’m kidding with that, but his excruciation of 371 days prior — Bayern’s excruciation of 371 days prior — lent a worthy backdrop. Robben’s superior goal rewarded game-long superiority. The victory went to both one deserving club and one exhilarating country.