Greece vs. Germany: Schlegel, Beckenbauer, Socrates, and other footballing greats

The Euro 2012 quarterfinal between Greece and Germany has been played before, thanks to Monty Python.

Leonhard Foeger/Reuters
Greece's Giorgos Karagounis celebrates his goal with his team mate Giannis Maniatis (left) during their Group A Euro 2012 soccer match against Russia at the National stadium in Warsaw, June 16.

The Greece vs. Germany showdown at Euro 2012 later today has plenty of spice going into it thanks to the backdrop of politics. Greece in political and social turmoil due to its debt crisis, with Germany and Chancellor Angela Merkel holding the purse strings.

Michael Steininger took a look at the political backdrop for us today, with wealthy (and to Greeks, arrogant) Germany facing off against poor (and to Germans, lazy) Greece: 

“I hope this match will be Angela Merkel’s first and last at these championships,” Greek goalkeeper Michalis Sifakis told his nation's media, referring to the fact that the chancellor is going to attend the match in Gdansk. Greek newspapers urged their national squad to “push Germany out of the Euro.” And even Germans are not sure if Merkel’s presence in the stadium will be a good idea.

“I truly hope that Mr. Samaras is going to be there too, sitting next to her,” says German columnist Hans-Ulrich Jörges. “Otherwise the Greeks really believe they are playing against Merkel.”

Here is the German dilemma: Of course they want to win the match. But do they want to do so at the price of more Greek misery? A look into the Twittersphere reveals that many Germans would answer that question with a resounding “Yes.” “Dear Greeks, score one goal against us and we ask our money back,” a German Twitter user threatens. Another advises the Greeks that losing the match “is free of charge.” And there is this picture being re-Tweeted over and over of the Greek national squad's jersey sporting the logo of the German finance ministry as sponsor.

But this match has been played out before, with the showdown framed as a clash between two great cultures. On the one side: Nietzsche, Schlegel, Kant and Beckenbauer (yes that Beckenbauer) against Plato, Heraclitus, and Socrates. No, not this Socrates:

But that Socrates.

Well, I'll let Monty Python explain the rest. And given the way elimination matches at important soccer tournaments play out, fans might be lucky for a late brainwave to seal the points in regular time.

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