The Two-Way
4:14 pm
Thu June 21, 2012

Tomorrow, The European Crisis Moves To The Pitch

It almost certainly won't solve the European sovereign debt crisis. But the way it's being framed, tomorrow's European Championship quarterfinal is starting to sound like its next chapter: Greece vs. Germany; austerity vs. stimulus; intact eurozone vs. one without Greece.

The Wall Street Journal reports that some have dubbed the game a "debt derby" that pits "the euro zone's most cash-strapped nation against its Teutonic task- and paymaster." The Journal adds:

"'[Angela] Merkel get ready, it's your turn now,' Greek fans chanted on the streets of Athens over the weekend after Greece knocked Russia out of the tournament to advance to the quarterfinal round. More-profane chants about the German chancellor were also heard in several Greek cities.

"'Poor Greeks, we'll drive you bust again,' Germany's mass-circulation tabloid Bild said on Tuesday, alluding to Greece's struggle against bankruptcy. 'No bailout fund can save you from Jogi,' Bild warned, referring to Germany's coach, Jogi Löw."

Fox Sports reports that Greece's players have also referenced the debt crisis.

"When we left Greece, we all said, 'Really give it everything.' We would have anyway, but the hardship made us fight more," Fox Sports quotes Greece's team captain, Georgios Karagounis, as saying after their stunning defeat of Russia.

In this match, like in eurozone politics, Greece is the underdog. Germany has won three euro cups; Greece has one. In eight matches, Greece has never beat Germany. BundesligaFanatic points out that going into the quarterfinals, Germany is on a roll, "unbeaten in their last 14 competitive matches, a national team record."

In an interview with CNN, Greek coach Fernando Santos said the political and economic situation in Greece affected them all.

"The players have family, they have friends, and they worry about what is going on. I would say Greece is going through more than just a political or economic crisis. There is a social crisis with a lot of unemployment. The players are human beings and they feel that," he said. "What I have asked them to do is to try to forget about that when they play and to focus just on football to show they are real fighters."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be at the game.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.