Thursday, June 12, 2008
What If Germany Loses? Cinderella Austria Lives?
As Germany trails Croatia 1-0 at the half, let's play what-if.
It certainly looks like the pre-tournament favorite Germans have no answer for Croatia through 45 minutes, let's say the former Yugos win the 3 points and essentially plop themselves in the quarterfinals a la Portugal. And let's say under-achieving Poland coughs up 3 more points and host Austria gets a win on home soil.
Well, we'll have an interesting scenario next Monday when Austria and Germany meet for all the marbles in the all-Axis Powers group, also known as Group B. The Germans will have find a way to win at the Ernst Happel Stadion in Vienna.
Granted, the Germans would be heavy favorites, but stranger things have happened when the hosts are involved. Austria will have an entire nation behind it, and that's a powerful entity. Could we have a Cinderella after all? Could the Austrians, so criticized for its place in this tournament as co-host with Switzerland, manage to make it to the knockout stage, taking the tournament favorites to the sidelines in the process?
What if Austria wins and finishes second in the group? It plays Portugal in the quarters, and you know outgoing manager Luis Filipe Scolari is rooting hard for Croatia and Austria because he knows, in this what-if scenario, if Germany finishes second, his team has a mammoth match in the knockout round.
Interesting and unexpected scenario we've got. That's why they play the games, and that's why, we as fans, can play the what-if game.