When I first sat down to write this post, I intended for it to be entitled Lahm And EURO 2012: A Bad Dream. Granted, I did not finish it that very same day. It was right after the semi-final. I refused to talk to people about it. I could not truly let it in for it would have stayed with me for a long time. Since then, that is since June 28th, many things have happened.
First and foremost, we all know who won the final of this European Championship. The question ‘why?’ seems to be so useless now, even though that was exactly what I asked myself on the day of the match. Second, the bitterness with which the semi-final left me has come to pass. Well, almost all of it… I think I have asked myself a number of times the following question: why does my team try so hard, and it does not work out for them? They deserve it. Unlike some others, I am not going to put the blame on the coach. Surely, the starting line up was a bit surprising, but I trusted him and in no way feel betrayed. He has done so much for this team that seeing him being so upset and crying was way worse than the loss itself. We are where we are thanks to him, too. I think it is important to remember that.
As to Lahm’s performance, I thought he did fine. Of course, there is the question of the second goal. Was he supposed to create an offside? Yes, perhaps that would have been wiser. It did look to me, though, as if he misjudged the trajectory of the ball. The way he stepped (read: moved) forward made me think that he thought he would be able to intercept it, which, unfortunately, did not happen as the ball had a different trajectory. As a result, Lahm had to turn around and sprint after Balotelli. That is my take on it. I do think it is remarkable though that he was still able to catch up with the Italian. The time between Lahm extending his leg to prevent Balotelli from scoring and the moment the latter happened… split seconds. However, I am inclined to wonder where the other defenders were and why Lahm – again – was the only one next to Balotelli. I am sure everyone could see the cross. It came from the empty right side. Why did the cross even take place? As SZ put it, Lahm “was – as Badstuber at the time of the first goal – the last man in a considerable chain of errors.” The same article points out that he “was on his way to the usual sovereignty” in terms of defense, but then Germany conceded the second goal.
On the other hand, Lahm’s shot on goal was absolutely magnificent. The very same article remarks that it courageously demonstrated his “captain’s duty”. That would have been an amazing – Lahm style – goal and “historical” (SZ; same). Too bad it did not work out, and the image of Lahm throwing his hands up, as well as his muttering, spoke for itself.
Certainly, the media was not happy. It is rather sad that people’s affections change so swiftly. Being more constant would do some good. Everyone was trashed in the media. Yes, trashed. There is no other word for it. Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised when I read SZ‘s appraisal of his performance (in particular, I refer to the last three sentences):
Philipp Lahm: stands again in the picture of a failure of a German EURO-mission. In 2008, Fernando Torres scored 1:0 next to him in the final; this time Mario Balotelli shoots the ball into the goal right in front of Lahm and mimics the black statue. It would not be surprising if Lahm, as captain, volunteered to pose for such photos of “losers”. Still no international titles, however [he was] the leader, the man responsible for integration, sometimes a strong instigator. After his very bad match against Portugal, [he] played a very good [strong] tournament and, in the match against Italy, belonged to the three players who were not intimidated. Not even by the Statue Balotteli. (my translation)
Hence, the title of this post. I have nothing to reproach him for. He took the initiative more than once, and in the end, was the last man standing. Again. I am only sad that he was upset, and who wouldn’t be? But here is something that all the admirers of Lahm’s talent should be proud of: he made the Official Team of the Tournament according to UEFA. (The source.) I ask you to take a minute to appreciate it. He made it for the 4th time in a row! (World Cup 2006, EURO 2008, World Cup 2010, EURO 2012) That is wonderful! And I cannot even begin to describe how proud I am of him. I have mentioned this before, and I will say it again: he is already a legend, in my humble opinion.
In fact, I have nothing to reproach the team for. They have been wonderful.
Some have expressed a wish to know what exactly Philipp said in his, or the team’s, declaration before the match. Not only did he speak of racism based on the color of skin, he also spoke of that pertaining to a person’s sexual orientation. In particular, Lahm declared the following:
The past three weeks have demonstrated how football can bring people together by the means of a common passion. Nationality, religion, gender, or sexual orientation play no role in it. My teammates and I, as captain of the German National Team, ask you to please reject, together with us, all forms of discrimination and support UEFA’s message “Respect Diversity”.”(The source, my translation)
On this note, I would like to say that I am still a fervent supporter. I still think of it as a bad dream and at times ask myself if it truly happened. But what’s the use? There is nothing that can be done. Therefore, I wish Lahm a good vacation, plenty of sunshine and fun, and I cannot wait for the new season to start, as well as the qualification for the World Cup 2014. Marching on.