Much brouhaha has been made about this World Cup encouraging a newfound, redefined sense of nationalism for the host nation, one devoid of fascism both off the pitch as well as on it. They can finally forgive themselves for producing Adolf Hitler and Rudi Voeller.
The massive outdoor parties that have been taking place in Berlin at the Brandenberg Gate have been a symbolic reminder of how far things have come.
But relics from the past still remain. And they're not from Germany.
No, we're talking about the ex-Communist countries in this Cup. Teams who clearly lacked a pairostrikers like Poland, the Czech Republic, Croatia, S&M (that's Serbia & Montenegro, you...), and good ol' fashioned Ukraine. These teams produced cynical soccer that hasn't been seen since the '90 Germany squad captained by one Rudi Voeller.
Think about this fact. Those countries combined to score 13 goals through 16 games. Of those sixteen games, they failed to score nary a goal in eleven of them -- and it would have been twelve had it not been for the dubious penalty given to a diving Sheva in their last group match. That's a far cry from when freshly de-walled Romania and Bulgaria took USA '94 by storm.
Anyways. On to more pressing concerns....
No, that's not Ukrainian TV's new sideline reporter. Nor is it Rudi Voeller.
But what's with the Beavis'n'Butthead-era haircuts? All the training pants worn chest-high? The coaching staff looking like judges at a Soviet greco-roman competition? Combined with the over-hyping of Mr. Shevchenko and the appalingly negative Cold War'ish tactics employed on the pitch, it's virtually impossible for a neutral to get on Ukraine's highly radioactive bandwagon.
Such turnoffs don't even negate the fact they'll be playing modern Azzurri sportsmen on Friday.