Match Of The Tournament?

Germany 0-2 Italy (After Extra Time) In the early years of the 1980s, whilst fighting against the perennial spectre of relegation, Stoke City went to Highbury for a Division One match against Arsenal. It was featured on “Match Of The Day”. Stoke, desperate for anything that they could muster from the game, threw eleven players behind the ball and played out a goal-less draw. In the post-match interview, the Stoke manager, Alan Durban, was quizzed over the entertainment level that his team provided. His answer became part of football folklore: “If you want entertainment, go to the circus”. You may not agree with the sentiment that football is now too important to be mere entertainment, but I was reminded of it last night, as Germany played Italy. This match was much, much more than mere entertainment. Much more. It was news. It was a tragedy. It was a spectacular feat of endurance. It was competitive sport at it’s very, very best. It might not have pleased the part-time fans – there were no goals for 118 minutes, and the match was played more like a chess game than anything else – but anybody that appreciates the finer arts of the game, it was one that will live long in the memory. I’ll spare you a full report. Let’s just suffice to say that two mental images will live with...

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