#### Round of 16 second leg in the Champions League season 2009/2010

As unseemly as it may be: I am telling about this match in the first person. As much as this may make it lacking in objectivity. I set out to refute this judgement in the course of the text.

Bayern won the first leg 2-1 thanks to a clearly verifiable offside goal by Klose relatively close to the end. A first leg victory is worth more nowadays than it used to be, especially such a narrow victory with a goal against. In the past, one would have said with a little more justification that “everything is still possible” or that “a 2-1 victory is a dangerous result”. But because FC Bayern, the favourites in this match, won, the odds for the second leg are quite clear. My computer spat out exactly 40% for a Bayern win, about 28% for a draw and 32% for a Florence win. If you add up the Bayern wins and the draws, you’re already at 68% for advancing (since Bayern is sure to get both results). However, if you consider that all defeats by one goal that are higher than 1:2 – i.e. from 2:3 — also favour Bayern, they are sufficient to advance, and in the case of a 2:1 victory for Florence, the chances – determined in the long term – are equal in extra time, and at the same time 2:1 is the most probable result (according to Computer 7. 32% for the 2-1 alone, and if you take into account what the computer doesn’t know, namely that at a score of 2-1 both teams no longer take the last risk, because there is a chance of extra time, so they are not yet eliminated, if it stays that way, the probability for this result increases even more), then from Bayern’s point of view there is still an impressive 6.1% of all lost games, so that they have a solid 40% (wins), 28% (draws) + 6.1% (sum of all “favourable” defeats) on advancing. So my statement: Bavaria will advance with 74.1%, Florence with 25.9%, well rounded three quarters Bavaria, one quarter Florence.

When I entered the famous “Luciano’s Restaurant”, the La Rocca on Ostpreußendamm/Wismarer Straße, sung about by Reinhard Mey, at 20:45, the assembled tennis experts – and not just football experts, of course – were already sitting at the six-man table. For me, however, there was still a little corner as the “seventh wheel on the wagon” and it was almost surprising that I could even find a chair, because the place was “buzzing” and packed. There was no room for non-football fans on this evening, as Italy was playing against Germany.

The large-screen TVs, which were clearly visible from afar, and the “loudspeaker” Marcel Reif, who replaced the otherwise omnipresent, discreet but no less beautiful Italian background music – of course the head indiander had not allowed himself to be deprived of this festive feast – prevented any of the usual romantic, amorous candlelight chats. Today was football day. Everyone should and was allowed to know that – even the neighbours of the restaurant. If you don’t watch it today, it’s your own fault.

Well, since I was possibly granted a certain expertise, I was at least asked how I thought the game would end. Surely, at such a moment, it is already clear to me a) why I have almost never ventured out among people when watching a game in recent years, and b) also that there is no need to spend a lot of time here. Short and sweet: “How does it end?” Since this is partout impossible for me, and even if the reputation should precede me that I am a long-term winner in the betting business, this would by no means be either the cause or the consequence of my being able to see into the future. That said, recent results have imposed the view that I am a “perma-loser” rather than a winner. More than a “2:1 for Bayern” answer was in principle not required. I took the (dubious) fun out of it and stuck to my underdog role. “I say 40% for Bayern win.” Despite absolute disinterest in probabilities and not the desired answer, this utterance brought astonishment for a moment. “Oh, only 40%? So Florence has 60% then?”

My decision to rejoin people to watch football was not a purely random one. Having decided to write something about football, possibly even become a journalist, but also generally trying to make football more attractive, to spread my knowledge and understanding of the betting market, odds, predictability of football, I came to the conclusion that I needed to experience real fan behaviour and thinking in the flesh. I also wanted to hear and see the reactions to comments, refereeing decisions and “mistakes, mistakes, mistakes everywhere”. How does the spectator really think and feel? What do they watch, when do they watch, what do they enjoy? How and when do they suffer, get emotionally involved, curse or cheer? And above all: how do they deal with assessments, with probabilities? How great are the deficits in understanding? Where is there interest, where is there a need for clarification?

This reaction, “if it’s 40% Bavarian victory, then it’s 60% Florence”, is comparable to a maths teacher who comes to a small village in a foreign country to teach a 9th grade class and wants to know what the students’ level is and whether they have to calculate zeros or use the p-q formula, but finds that there is a wide range of answers to the question “how much is 33″, all with a certain logic. So he realises that he’d better start with 11….

So I react relatively calmly and said, “No, it’s about 28% for the draw, therefore 32% for Florence winning.” The response was the same as the reaction. Wave it off and “oh, a draw too.” The other response, “Why don’t you say Bayern win 2-1?” The “conversation” ended rather abruptly. This is really getting too complicated. Thinking? Unwanted! We watch football and Bayern gets through. Basta!

On the betting market, by the way, the assessment was very similar. After all, there is a betting market on which gigantic turnovers are made on just such a game? Who makes them? Not a German, at any rate. No, there is no betting here. We are honest citizens. There are no probabilities here. Here there are only insurances. And therefore no risk. Besides, Germany always wins in the end anyway, the world should know that.

If I may contribute my own feelings about such a game, about such a pairing, at this point? Thank you: Sure, when I go to Luciano, I have a little hope that I would find a few advocates, a few Italy supporters, in a match between Italy and Germany. Because with me, the sympathies are clear and I’m amazed that even with such a thought, such a feeling, I don’t have anyone on my side. Luciano declared his allegiance to Bayern quite soon. (Nevertheless, during the game you had the feeling that he was for Florence after all, somehow actually had to hold up his Italians, but just didn’t dare).

For me, this has grown historically. The Germans, who are used to winning, very soon put me off hoping and pressing for them. This was primarily because I thought I recognised early on that it was always a portion of luck that Germany took. In the long run, it became a gigantic amount of luck. That might not bother me yet if the perception was also “luck”. However, at some point the view took root in this country that it can’t be luck at all, and that every result is deserved, especially every victory by the Germans.

And here, at the latest, I switch off. I can’t go along with that any more. Because the fact that Gascoigne, in the 1996 European Championship semi-final, extra time, golden goal, runs past the ball, misses it by a toe, less than a metre from the goal line, that Chris Waddle in extra time in 1990, semi-final, hits the post and doesn’t go in, that every penalty shoot-out goes to Germany anyway, you have to feel that it’s luck? How can you talk about “deserved”? If it was just these two cases….

I can’t help it, I’m against the Germans. I very well and very gladly recognise good performances. I take my hat off, I express my respect, in every scene gladly and also in the total sum. I dare to recognise whether a victory was lucky or deserved and I also like to congratulate a winner, even if the victory was a lucky one. Only one can win. Congratulations on that, also on the great performance, even if it was a bit weaker than that of the opponent. Just please, please, please recognise yourself if it was lucky or how lucky it was. Then everything will be fine again. Sport remains as it is, exciting, fascinating, passionate, emotional. Football as well. But please recognise that it is luck when it is. Always remember: even a winner who has a 75% chance of winning, of advancing, needs the remaining 25% increase in luck to win. There is no other way. My dislike has only something to do with this misinterpretation. Nor does it have anything to do with hatred, contempt or disdain. It’s just that I can’t wish for them to keep winning and winning.

Already after the draw I begin to wonder about the (mis)assessments, to oppose them. When they say “Florence is a doable task, the Bavarians have to get further”, I first ask a little thanks for the Germans’ almost proverbial luck of the draw (abroad), which affected the Bavarians here. There were fatter lumps. Next, however, I ask for sufficient respect for the opponent. Even if Florence are not doing so well in the championship this season – only in 11th place — they are, after all, Italian – and the Italians know how to play football, and it is with great difficulty that I refrain from saying “unlike the D…”. –, and besides, even if you are the clear favourite and the better team, you can easily be eliminated. We don’t deal with that kind of thing here. Effenberg, asked about the chances and the draw: “We don’t need to talk about it. Bayern can handle it.” At that moment my sympathy is clear. I can only wish he was wrong. It has nothing to do with Bavaria. It has something to do with Germany and something to do with (not having) a clue (here) about football.

The game was exciting from the start. It was football at the highest level. Unfortunately, “top level” nowadays means that you could click your tongue at every turn about successful defensive actions, perfect positional play or general tactical understanding, a clever pass, a successful dribble, but you should hardly expect any goal chances, not even shots. That’s really how it was for the first 25 minutes.

My pizza mozzarella with salami and the beer with it tasted fantastic, watching football in company also developed. Although I made an effort to “overhear” a few funny remarks here and there.

In the 30th minute, a single space for an Italian, about 30 metres in front of the goal. He executes a very skilful shot with perfect body coordination, which turns as a touchdown at the five-metre area towards the left corner of the goal. Goalkeeper Butt, who until then had never really had to intervene, was surprised at how fast and well-placed the shot came. Sure, he got close, but he could only let the ball bounce diagonally forward. You still don’t see any real danger, because a Bayer and a Fiorentina attacker go to the ball at the same time, but the angle is very acute and it’s hard to score from there. The striker, however, actually has his foot on the ball first and manages to skilfully flick the ball into the far corner past Butt, who is just getting up. 1:0.

I wasn’t so much looking forward to the comments as I was perfectly prepared. Marcel Reif had only one thought on his mind: “Goalkeeper’s mistake or not? The verdict was clear: “Goalkeeper’s mistake. He must never, under any circumstances, let the ball bounce forward.” “He must hold on to it.” “Germany has a goalkeeping problem.” or “box it to the side or catch it.” “That’s his thing.”

I’m alone in my opinion that it was a good shot for life. At least in Germany. But I know that an Englishman would think of more to the scene than “Goalkeeper’s mistake.” The comment, exemplified at this point, that I loved to hear: “Look at that. Excellent shot. Full concentration on the ball, steadies himself and lets one fly. Maybe the goalkeeper could have stopped it right away. But it is the first shot on target, and it’s a brilliant one. Good goal” or something like that.

That’s the least we can do. Isn’t there something that must motivate us to watch football, apart from finding mistakes and having to win? Not in Germany. Good actions? They don’t exist?!

The goal was anything but deserved. It can happen. It was a good move, it got the goal. It’s just that a lot of games are decided like that nowadays. Control of the game? That’s ok, but getting chances and taking them is another thing. It wasn’t even something that deserves to be called a goal-scoring chance. It was just a shot. It was good. It brought success.

How does Bayern proceed now? They have the potential, that’s for sure, to create at least a few chances. Before the 0:1 they didn’t have to, now they do. They need a goal, Florence were further ahead at that score.

Shortly afterwards, Bayern had their first big chance. My analysis, however, was immediately: that was offside, as much as I’m usually against stopping these actions. Here it was like this: A pass comes into the penalty area, a striker (Müller) is offside (?), but he lets the ball pass, behind him Robben comes completely free to shoot from about 12 metres, half-right position. A great shot, that must be the goal? No! The goalkeeper gets his fingertips on the ball, a great save, and deflects it just over.

The view “offside” is confirmed by Ottmar Hitzfeld at half-time. Because the attacker Müller, coming from offside, lifts his leg to let the ball through. This is an active intervention which, as a feint, is likely to irritate the defence, thus putting the other attacker in a shooting position. The explanation “I didn’t want to go for it because I was offside” doesn’t work. That is “active”. Personally, I had only very slight doubts as to whether Müller was really offside, which could not be completely eliminated for me in the replay.

The half-time analysis was the same everywhere else. a) Bayern weren’t really in the game yet and b) they score another goal and move on. Wonderful. How nice it must be to be German, body and soul? You simply always win. And if once, just once, it doesn’t, then that’s called “withholding a feeling of happiness” and can be fought with rotten tomatoes and eggs as projectiles thrown at the home team. Although these losers don’t deserve such preferential treatment – a simple “shit millionaires” and “they don’t even pay for all the coal ours have to shovel” will do.

The second half began. I enjoyed my own feelings of happiness with the temporary leadership and with the Paulaner advertisement with the really, for me, most beautiful woman in the world. You just have to perceive happiness! It lurks everywhere!

Fiorentina presented itself as a true Italian team and didn’t allow much. The resentment around me grew. One or the other already wanted to turn to Luciano and ask for some expiring groceries, as the performance of this and that mutated more and more towards “underground”. Marcel Reif made the pace, the restaurant visitors joined in the tenor. Weak, that was weak from Bayern, very weak. “Von Bommel again with a bad pass, Schweinsteiger “I haven’t even seen him on the ball yet” and Müller “doesn’t get a chance”. “I can’t see Gomez at all.” He had already been substituted, which prompted Luciano to say: “What a pity, Florence would have had a chance with Gomez. So the comments complemented each other brilliantly. Those responsible for the lost feelings of happiness were gradually identified.

Then there was this: A great attack by Florence, on the outside into the penalty area, a short pass and a fantastic forwarding, almost a stop with the heel plays the onrushing Jovetic free, in the vicinity of the penalty, and he converts placed into the far corner. Once again, I had the exclusive tongue-lashing, but the error analysis didn’t offer any real clues either. Who was to blame? In an emergency, the “collective.

Now I could listen to a few arithmetic examples. Some of them make a possible transfer to the second grade seem possible. “Well, Bayern needed a goal before, and now they need a goal too. Not that much has changed.” The reaction was alarming. “Oh, if it was 1-2 they’d be through?” “No, then there would be extra time.” True as far as it goes. But for the betting market, for the probability calculator, a lot has changed. Firstly, although the 1:2 would help them to extra time, this is a huge shift in the distribution of chances compared to a goal that was still possible before the 0:2 to make it 1:1, for them to advance. Even in extra time, the 1:2 would only offer about 50%. Apart from that, you can’t rule out another goal for Florence. A third goal, which they are now much closer to scoring than before. In any case, it’s true: they needed a goal before, now they need one too. Marcel Reif recognised this immediately and said so.

No sooner said than done. Only a few minutes later, the one action that brought about the connection – and thus the overall draw. Interestingly, it came just after someone had complained that Robben and Ribery, Bayern’s world-class wingers, weren’t really getting the ball rolling, whereupon a real expert – until then largely silent – explained that the two of them didn’t have it easy because they were always being doubled up. The reaction to this also showed football understanding: “Well, if they are always doubled, there must be room somewhere else, right? Also true. It’s just that you concentrate on the best footballers. That’s just how Italians do it. The others can have a bit of space. Excellent! Inwardly, I immediately agreed with both of them, but my observation went even further: the two outsiders were even tripleted! An Italian team gets the necessary player material for this from the attack.

This action, however, confirmed everything that had been said and thought: Ribery was able to create a moment of freedom and space for himself on the outside with a clever body deception. He used this to make an excellent pass to the edge of the penalty area. The man designated to make the pass was immediately shouted at by jumping visitors: “Let him through! Let him through!” The shout was heard all the way to Florence. Müller let pass to the better-positioned Von Bommel behind him, who expertly slotted into the far corner with the inside of his foot from 18 yards. A goal that I have already seen a very long time ago from his compatriot Dennis Bergkamp and which I always remember as a model goal for ” considered, placed, pushed”, as opposed to the more usual “brute force” in this country. And although both of the aforementioned come from the even less beloved “underground” flat neighbouring country, at least one of them had earned an even more audible cheer than the “let through” call. We are “one world, one people”, aren’t we?

But Fiorentina still had an arrow in their quiver. The venerable Artemio Franchi in Florence was not filled to capacity, but the atmosphere reflected very well what the crowd thought of the game and the performance of their own team. It was enthusiasm. Goal conceded or not – everything was still open. Italy is also capable of more objectivity than the “black beast”, “la bestia negra”, as it is known abroad, who simply cannot be brought down, who is not grudged success, but who always commands respect, because they are allowed to climb the podium again and again. In this respect, the joy of a great game, the enthusiasm for a great football show, the performance takes centre stage, the football presented at the performance limit, which in the end brings the result it brings. A’ defeat, which causes regret and sadness, but which can by no means push the self-sacrificing fight into the background. Well played is well played. A result is a result. An Italian knows that. A German? Well… He knows results, sure. It happens. From time to time. If Germans are involved. AC Milan – Manchester United? No idea, not seen it, forgotten it. No Germans were involved (RR: Two weeks ago, 2:3).

The arrow in the quiver was an attacking duo called Gilardino and Jovetic. The one with the J played the G-man high in the penalty area, there was no other way, immediately moved forward energetically, Gilardino managed, despite being under pressure, to complete the double pass by heading directly into the run, the one who had moved forward had created the one metre of free space that is so valuable in modern football, successfully pushed van Buyten away and finished thoughtfully through the legs of Butt. I had the feeling that, in view of this great goal, there were a few Italians in the pub who had been hooded up until then, who made themselves known at that moment and were ready for a collective, limited cheer. Luciano, too, showed something like concealed joy. Was it only because he had made a bet with a guest shortly before, for a crate of beer, as to who would win the game?

Speaking of this bet: I had listened to the entire dialogue at the beginning of the second half. After all, it was about betting. And I have ears. I was also quite surprised in this case how little understanding and need for agreement or collusion there was then. “I bet Bayern wins.” “Ok, I bet Florence wins.” So Luciano. “Crate of beer?” “Crate of beer!” Handshake. At that moment I didn’t want to say anything under any circumstances and a short time later I could see why. In my mind, however, I already saw that, despite all friendship and mutual goodwill, there would inevitably be a discussion regarding the payment modalities. Who would have won when?

The bet was placed at the score of 2:1. After 3:1, there would certainly have been no discussion. But since the Bavarians struck back immediately, the question arose almost inevitably: Who would have won now? A deal was quickly struck: “Ok, if it’s a draw, the bet is par, nobody has won.” “Ok.” But that was more or less already in the wording. However, I would have thought it possible that there was immediate agreement that a win was a win, and that in this case it could refer to the overall result, i.e. progress, without the protagonists bringing this to my attention. Possibly it was not the first bet and they already knew what they were saying? There, too, I was instructed by the consequences. “You said Bayern would win this game.” (Don’t forget, he’s Italian! That’s why “these”). “Well, I meant a win is a win, even in a penalty shoot-out.” To me, that would have sounded like “who will advance” but it wasn’t pronounced. Because: assuming the game ends 2-1 after extra time, Bayern wins the penalty shootout 5-4, then theoretically there should have been renewed discussions: “No, the game was 2-1, plus the 4-5 in penalties, makes a total of 6-6, so a draw. I won!” And so on.

When I commented very briefly – not befitting me, of course – I was immediately rebuked with the remark that I should continue to use my hairdresser for chatting and spouting nonsense….

The Bayern representative was in a good mood because of the 2:3 and came to terms with the payout, if it stayed that way. The incredible, fantastic goal by an individual action of Robben, who finished a short slalom through the midfield with a shot from 22 metres, which turned exactly into the far corner of the goal, had provided the 2:3 and thus secured Bayern’s progress. Just in case it stayed that way. I won’t go into the analysis that followed, which was made by the table neighbours in view of the possible outcomes of the game, who would advance when and why, with reference to the fact that it was “really too complicated”. Let’s wait and see what the officials say… or something. The 2.3, that much is undisputed, was enough for Bayern.

A few observations from me about the game: When Bayern announced the signing of Arjen Robben, I was quite surprised that they had managed such a coup. The man is simply world class. However, I personally watched a lot of Real Madrid games live throughout last season (yes, and that despite the fact that not a single German plays there! And Bernd Schuster is no longer coach either…). Realisation: Arjen Robben has a disease. It’s not his glass bones. He was conspicuously the best player in every game. However, it always happened that he outplayed the entire back line and then either scored a goal — or didn’t score a goal. Only at some point it became unnecessary for the teammates to move. What for? They don’t get the ball.

Of course, I am exaggerating excessively. And surely such a world-class player should be able to learn? After all, he also gets the best coaches. On the other hand, you can still see the beginnings of this disease today, The evil is not that it doesn’t look like a goal threat and doesn’t strike often enough. The evil is that teammates no longer offer themselves. “You do it.” Then it becomes critical. Since there are a lot of world stars playing at Real Madrid, I think that means the end for him there. They don’t move at all and complain. At Bayern it’s a little less world class than at Real – except for Robben. That goal was incredible, Robben too. Nevertheless, you could see approaches where the teammates stopped offering themselves at Bayern last night as well. Even other spectators noticed that. “…Missed time to pass.” I suspect that in his dynamism , his speed and his brilliance he often enough thinks: “If I play now, there will be offside.” And therefore doesn’t. Yet … he is world class. But he could get more out of it if he used his teammates more.

Another observation was this: After the 2:3, Bayern was further ahead, if it stayed that way. However, German teams lack the ability to play for results. In particular, switching “just now we needed, now we have, now we switch to hold, go backwards” doesn’t work at all. They keep playing forward. For the spectator, it’s exciting, dramatic and enjoyable right to the end. Football is being played. The aim of the game is to score goals. We want a goal, the final decision. All well and good. Above all, exciting. Internationally, it’s one of the reasons why German teams are pretty far behind England, Spain, Italy in the European Cup. Although things are looking up this season.

So it was a great game until the end. It remained 3:2 for Florence. According to Marcel Reif, “one of the most beautiful defeats in recent years” for Bayern. The loser of the beer crate was also in a great mood and would perhaps have jumped two crates for this feeling of happiness. I am very happy to acknowledge that Bayern’s overall victory was deserved. But it was very close, which is not only expressed by the result with a 4:4 overall. I congratulate, take off my hat, thank you for a great game and swing on my bike towards home. Thoughts? Nothing unpleasant. But there was a bit of luck involved. It’s fair to say that.

Okay, I’ll be back. Football in company? It’s all right. But I’ll always be an outsider, so I’ll have to come to terms with that.