Sports

Game That Shocked the World Leads to Joyous Disbelief in Germany

Germany fans celebrate Germany’s seventh goal during the FIFA World Cup 2014 semi final football match between Brazil and Germany during a public viewing at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on July 8, 2014.
Germany fans celebrate Germany’s seventh goal during the FIFA World Cup 2014 semi final football match between Brazil and Germany during a public viewing at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on July 8, 2014.AFP/Getty Images

BERLIN — Fireworks boomed across the city, and fans in the German capital took up the refrain chanted by the German supporters in Estádio Mineirão in Belo Horizonte, Brazil: “What a day! So beautifully wonderful is today!” Their national team had stunned the world, including Germany itself, with a 7-1 trouncing of Brazil to reach its eighth World Cup final.

Soccer memories are long, and many German fans still bitterly recalled the 2-0 defeat to Brazil in the 2002 World Cup final. But Tuesday’s domination of Brazil, on its home territory, more than dashed that memory.

“Speechless” read the headline of the Wednesday edition of the country’s tabloid Bild, above an image of Andre Schürrle celebrating Germany’s seventh goal.

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Thunderous cheers erupted after each goal from a watch party known as the Fan Mile, thousands of supporters stretching from the Brandenburg Gate monument in the heart of Berlin. The roar echoed across the country as Germans gathered around screens set up in beer gardens, on restaurant patios and in their homes.

In the Berlin pub Schöneberger Weltlaterne, the owner Angelika Rödiger was decked out in a dress of the black, red and gold of the German flag. Germans, once known for shunning their national colors, have grown into the spirit since hosting the 2006 World Cup, and fans wearing an array of hats, scarves, floral leis and painted faces hurried to get into place hours before kickoff.

Rödiger had bought mini bottles of schnapps to hand out to guests for each of Germany’s goals. But with the score 3-0 in Germany’s favor, with about 20 guests in her small pub, she was forced to start handing out drinks in glasses.

The mood among the guests was jubilant, but even in this moment of triumph, the German patrons were muttering. “We don’t want to overdo it,” one woman said, before declining to repeat her remark on the record.

A palpable gloom fell over the pub during halftime when the German broadcast did not turn to its commentators in Brazil, but rather to a news bulletin to report about the resurgence of hostilities between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza.

The soccer score was “almost eerie,” said Claus Kleber, one of Germany’s most prominent television journalists, as he introduced the report.

The fans remained silent until the bulletin was over. Then Uli Schmidt, 64, a retired teacher whose face was painted in the national colors, said, “What an evening! This has just never happened.”

As the score kept mounting in Germany’s favor, there was a surreal nature to the screams and shouts that engulfed the bar and the streets outside. An hour after the final whistle, fireworks still popped and car horns blared as cars with German flags streaming from their windows drove down the Kurfürstendamm street in the west of Berlin.

“Absolutely nobody expected this,” Schmidt said. “That has never happened in the history of World Cup semifinals.”

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