A twenty minute ride from downtown Cologne Dominoqq and I was at the Rhein-Energie stadium (looks like the corporate naming disease has infected Germany too). It is a classic English-style arena but perfectly symmetrical and set amidst rolling green fields.
Inside the ground I got my first sight of next year’s World Cup official refreshments. Oh dear it is true. Crudweiser is the official and only beer on sale. The world’s best selling and worst tasting beer that no self-respecting European would be seen dead preferring to a local brew. As if to shamefully appeal to Germans’ sense of ancestral pride however, the famous Budweiser name is relegated to small letters below the larger name of its German founders Anheuser-Busch. A crushing blow for money against sense. Also, €3 for a small bottle of water guys?
Tunisian fans had turned out in large numbers as expected given their expat strength (most were speaking German) but the ground remained half-empty. The only chant I heard of ‘Argentina’ was raised after their second goal but petered out again quickly.
In the press box I was sat beside 2 journalists from France’s marvellous sports daily l’Equipe, who opined to me that Roger Lemerre, the current Tunisia and former France coach was “just mad”. On my other flank was an Indonesian man who took no notes during the game and post match just posed for photos with the Argentine players, a fan masquerading as a reporter methinks!