If you are following the World Cup this year, Saturday’s match between Germany and Sweden was quite a game. I watched it live…on a Lufthansa flight. That itself was a sight to be behold.
Last week I was in Italy and Germany. Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup Tournament for the first time since 1958. That constituted national shame in a country with a rich football heritage. The result wasn’t surprising: very little word of it.
On the other hand, Germany launched into full Word Cup mode. On my flight to Germany, it seemed like 1/3 of the plane wore white German football jerseys. We landed just as the Mexico – Germany game began. It was playing everywhere….every bar, every lounge, every restaurant in Frankfurt Airport.
Germany lost that game 0-1 and you could feel the shock over the unexpected loss. At the hotel, some fans had tears in their eyes. At dinner, the waiter began
talking venting about it. Football is a very serious thing in Europe.
Fast-forward a week to last Saturday. I was flying from Frankfurt to Los Angeles on Lufthansa. Germany’s second match, this time against Sweden, began midway through the flight. Germany offers live TV on its intercontinental flights and I chucked as the game started: nearly every screen on the upper deck was tuned into the game.
Sweden scored first, eliciting an eruption of hisses and boos that were loud and clear even with noise-cancelling headphones.
Minutes later, the connection went down:
You would think the world had just ended. Several passengers began clamoring for FAs to “fix” the TV, as if they could do anything. Thankfully, the signal was re-established a few minutes later. No one had scored.
The first half ended with a 1-0 Swedish lead. Those seated around me were up in arms. One nervously tapped his fingers on the tray table.
FAs appeared with a halftime snack: fruit and cheese. Cake and almonds were also available.
The second half began. Germany scored quickly.
This time, the plane erupted with cheers.
As the second half wore down, the score remained tied. A tie would have placed Germany in a precious position, having to depend upon a Mexican loss this week to advance to the next round.
In the 82nd minute, a German player received a red card for his second foul. This meant Germany was outnumbered on the field for the final minutes of the game. Would they be able to hold on?
Finally, with a beautiful goal in the 95th minute, Germany scored again. And passengers burst out in euphoria. The guy next to me clapped his hands then lifted them, letting out a cheer.
Moments later, the game ended and several people headed for the lavatory.
I’ve watched the World Series and NBA Finals onboard a plane before, but nothing came close to this game in terms of the collective excitement from fellow passengers. I’m honestly not much of a football game, but I’ll fondly remember this game and how I experienced it.