Poland cheers for Germany; end times draw nigh

Brian Phillips

Not making the World Cup can do funny things to people. Polish fans opened their newspapers this morning to find headlines celebrating Germany's boulder-flattening of Australia, even though Germany is Poland's most hated rival thanks to a derby match they played together in the late 1930s, when the Poles took exception to some light-hearted antics from the German traveling support.

In this case — even though Germany beat Poland in the 2006 World Cup and in Euro 2008! — the Polish media were able to look past the enmity because two of the German goals were scored by Klose and Podolski, who were both born in Poland. So in a way, it was kind of like Poland had scored at the World Cup, even though it finished second-to-last in what was overwhelwingly the easiest group in UEFA qualification and never came close to making the tournament. Klose and Podolski are known to speak Polish to each other during games; they were carrying the national pride.

Two years ago, though, in the build-up to Euro 2008, Podolski and Klose's Polish-German identity was the source of intense national anxiety, particularly when Podolski scored both goals in Germany's 2-0 win over Poland. And hostility toward Germany was running high enough that two separate Polish tabloids caused scandals by running Photoshopped images of Poland coach Leo Beenhakker involved in insane decapitation scenarios with Michael Ballack [note: that last link is NSFW if your workplace doesn't go for fairly graphic fake neck trauma].

Now, all is forgiven, at least kind of, because everyone wants to cheer for someone in the World Cup, even if it means cheering for someone you normally hate.

Photo: Reuters