Opinion: Germany must rise above Bayern′s bitter defeat | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 21.05.2012
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Opinion: Germany must rise above Bayern's bitter defeat

Soccer can be brutal! Bayern Munich found out the hard way on Saturday night that the better team doesn't always win. The bitter defeat could have consequences for Germany's bid at EURO 2012, writes DW's Volker Wagener.

Bayern Munich's Bastian Schweinsteiger reacts after being defeated by Chelsea at penalty shootout during their Champions League final soccer match at the Allianz Arena in Munich May 19, 2012. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach (GERMANY - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)

Champions League Finale 2012

Does it really make sense that we're still talking about a soccer game that was played two days ago? It does indeed! Soccer is a game of emotions, intense ones at that, and they don't just vanish two nights after the final whistle - or penalty kick as the case may be.

The results are there: Bayern Munich, though much better than Chelsea on Saturday night, lost the Champions League final in a shootout in front of a home crowd. This fact alone is pain enough for your average Bayern fan, but there are more painful realizations that came along with it.

When stats don't mean a thing…

The Champions League final is the nonplus ultra in European league soccer. To lose such a match at home is obviously bitter, but to lose even when your team - quite clearly - played the better match is akin to pouring salt on that wound.

And what's worse: German teams don't lose penalty shootouts. And to an English team? It would be more probable for Germany to beat England in cricket. But this is exactly what happened; Chelsea turned the stereotype on its head by showing that it can bury penalty shots when push comes to shove.

Saturday's victory for Chelsea also buried one of the most popular soccer philosophies in England: Gary Lineker, one of the legendary English strikers during the eighties and nineties, always said that soccer was a sport in which 22 people ran around kicking a ball and in the end Germany always won. Not anymore.

Jogi Löw and the German national psych ward

The media coverage since has shown just how tough Saturday's defeat has been for Germany. In headline after headline one reads the word "trauma" - as if the country's national team now already had no chance of making it past the group stage at this summer's Euro 2012 championships. Half of national trainer Jogi Löw's team is made up of frustrated Bayern players who haven't won anything this season, critical papers have commented.

Volker Wagener

Germany has to pick up its head, writes DW's Wagener

And other players set to suit up for Löw haven't exactly had a strong league season this year. Like striker Lukas Podolski, whose Cologne have been kicked into the second league. Rumour has it that Löw has asked Podolski - who's off to Arsenal for next season - to get counselling before Euro 2012 starts up in Ukraine in June. Maybe Bayern's frustrated national players should join and make it a group therapy session.

But any kind of collective depression should, in the end, be avoided. Maybe the morose Munich players could take a page from the book of World Cup history. In 1966 it was the Englanders who showed true grace in the face of West Germany's bitter defeat in the final at Wembley. Note: He who loses with dignity will win again. And that's just what happened in 1966. The Wembley loss lead to a golden decade for West Germany in the 70s.

And there is a bit of solace looking ahead to this summer's championship: At least three of the players on the losing side on Saturday (Bayern's Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben and Ivica Olic) will be suiting up for other European squads so Germany won't technically be the only team taking a dented self-confidence into Ukraine and Poland.

Author: Volker Wagener / glb
Editor: Joanna Impey