To Dortmund and back, off to see the wizards

To Dortmund and back: Two slow buses and a suburban tent city located right between the airport and the highway, on the outskirts of a very tasteful office park. They spare no expense for we invading Auslanders, who turned out mostly to be Brazilians or people-masquerading-as-Brazilians, and a large number of extremely happy and drunken Japanese.

A joint lesson in power and basic retail economics: Our plan was to buy Ghana gear once we arrived, because, basically we were too lazy to get it here. Quickly found that despite a full mile or two dedicated to selling football fans various hats, scarves, shirts, bags, crepes, and sausages, there was almost nothing for Ghana. One scarf for every 20,000 Brazilian tchotchkes.

Which, granted, meant they knew their audience. (Also granted, it was obvious that Brazil would be here months ago, while Ghana was a bit of a surprise.) The city was full of Brazil fans, many but not most of whom were actually Brazilian. We learned that many rhythm-impaired white folks (this is not a criticism, I’m one) love to use the Yellow and Green as an excuse to Get Crazy and Dance, while Playing Drums.

The game. Ghana played inspiringly well through the midfield, but can’t shoot. Same problem they had in their other games.They played like a team that knows they’re going to lose, and is in any case playing against their heroes. I kept expecting them to ask for autographs after they fouled people. That meant no Mexico-style desperation, driving them to play far above their ordinary ability.

And Brazil, the lazy bastards. Of course flashes of brilliance, but I can’t wait to see somebody press them. I personally can’t stand the French team except for ZZ, but I think they’ll be more interesting against Brazil, if only because they might trip somebody or throw and elbow and piss somebody off for once.

A few cynical aussies chanting behind us, re: Ronaldinho. “What’s big and round, and falls on the ground… Ronaldhino!”

Live is a different experience, no question. All my years of playing, I’ve never had this, and have craved it. Believe it or not, the Seattle Sounders back in the day just didn’t do it. Deafening cheers after the Brazilian anthem. Silence after (and during) Ghana’s. Breathtaking to watch Ronaldinho’s rare moments of actual, graceful action right there in front of you. Crappy Budweiser beer, because at least those lovely fellows at Anheuser-Busch love and respect football, even if no one else in America does. I’m glad we ponied up and did it.

But all told. I think watching Friday’s Germany-Argentina game in the company of a city that has found itself caring so unexpectedly deeply is actually going to be more fun.