Monday morning in the Altstadt in Cologne. Fresh from quite a quantity of assorted German beer, and some typical continental breakfast (cheese, bread and salami. And pork. And potatoes) we sat by the Rhine in a café for hours reading the Sunday papers and drinking alternate milchkaffee and kolsch.
Cologne was bustling today with fans descending on the city for the final game the city would host in the tournament. There were a smattering of Ukrainian fans, but thousands of Swiss bedecked in flags and odd hats.
Having spent a lazy day pottering around the place, we eventually headed out towards the stadium for the game. The main station is adjacent to the city’s magnificent gothic cathedral, the obvious point for fans to mix…
Needless to say, the public transport out to the new RheinEnergie Stadion was punctual and plentiful, meaning we got to the ground well in time for the match.
Having availed ourselves of some beers (the bloody official beer of the tournament is that dreadful American p*ss, so of course that’s what they were serving) we sat on the grass in the sunshine and watched the masses arrive.
And then we saw this, which is possibly the bizarrest thing I have ever seen at a football match.Our position was adjacent to one of the corporate hospitality tents, and so we were treated to some frankly dreadful cabaret singing, from a couple of guys who looked like Milli Vanilli and, frankly, sounded like them as well.
The Swiss fans, it should be said, were absolutely fantastic. I particularly liked this fella…
When we got into the ground, the selection of in-stadium fare could not have been more German if it had tried.Sausage or Schnitzel, anyone?
We were sat behind the goal with the hardcore Swiss support. Now, I have been to a fair bit of international football (the last two Euros for a start) and I don’t think I have ever heard such enthusiastic and constant support as the Swiss gave their side throughout the entire game. “Hopp Suisse” seemed to be the favourite chant and, having sunk a few beers, I got involved in that also.
The game itself wasn’t the finest the tournament has ever seen, but I enjoyed it. A match of few chances, I thought the Swiss pretty much dominated the game. Alexander Frei ran his b*llocks off, Johann Vogel tidied everything in the midfield and Barnetta and Wicky provided some crisp passing on each flank.The Ukrainians were, frankly, rubbish. And, before he has even landed in the UK, I hate Andriy Shevchenko. His body language reminds me a lot of the French incarnation of Thierry Henry. Whenever a team mate missed a pass to him, or crossed out of touch, he would shrug and berate them. He is clearly their best player by a mile, but if I were a team-mate of his, he would drive me mental. He is also a cheat (his handball that almost led to a goal) and not above doing something sh*t himself….
Anyway, a penalty shootout was the inevitable outcome, and the Swiss took three of the worst penalties I have ever seen to lose 3-0 on the night. A travesty of a result if ever there was one.
It was almost midnight by the time we piled out of the stadium and headed back into the city, which was still pretty busy even for that time in the morning. One €3 doner kebab later, it was time for bed….