The Euro Zone



Gloating Italian style: Balotelli's double strike stirs up home press and inspires some strange headlines

SO THEN, how did the Italian press respond to that victory over, of all people, Germany? Magnanimous? Not entirely, Libero opting for a picture of Mario Balotelli hoofing a ball featuring Angela Merkel’s face, the headline - “Vaffanmerkel” – mystifying us until we stuck “vaffan” in to Google Translate. Good Lord.

Il Giornale, meanwhile, took their inspiration from former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who once made a rather unpleasant and highly-unrepeatbale reference to Merkel’s body shape and attraction levels: “Ciao Ciao Culona” read their headline, which loosely translates in to “bye bye, fat bottom”.

Are you noticing a trend here? Tuttosport took a slightly different tack, reminding anyone who didn’t know Balotelli is black – although at first, such is our knowledge of the Italian language, we thought they were alleging he is overweight. “Li abbiamo fatti neri!” means, apparently, “We have made them black!.

Tuttosport later defended their headline, Gianni De Pace, assistant editor, telling the Guardian: It was a reference to him being black, but it is just a pun. It was also because when he took his shirt off he looked like a boxer who bruises opponents.”


Pizza express: German media don't hold back as dream ends and blame for nightmare directed at Loew

SO, DO you remember that graphic we showed you on Thursday, the one from German paper Bild that exclusively revealed Italy’s formation for the semi-final? And showed them in a 4-1-2-1-2 line-up on the plane home to Italy? Accompanied by a caption wishing them a pleasant trip home?

Several internet detectives scoured the Bild site yesterday looking for the graphic, but, mysteriously, it seemed to be gone.

Of course, if the paper had been gracious about it all they might have updated the image to show Germany homeward bound, but instead they opted to mourn their exit: “Gone! Gone! The dream is gone!”

Hats off to the German-speaking wizards at the Guardian: “And once again we lose to the Italians . . . Oh, how bitter it tastes! Jogi, where were was your golden touch this time? . . . Gomez and Podolski are total failures, and both need to be frozen out in the near future. Against Italy our Ozil tornado was just a gentle breeze – and the rest was not up to much. Schweinsteiger is an example – he has been nowhere near his World Cup form, and when it mattered he was very poor.”

The Morgen Post had predicted the game would be the “end of the line for Pizza” when they previewed the contest, but come yesterday morning, as the Pizza marched on, they declared: “Nightmare!” over a photo of Balotelli.

The gist of the verdict on Jogi Loew? “He chose the wrong tactics and the result was this bitter elimination,” said Die Welt, “the script of the defeat carries his handwriting.”

From hero to zero, then.

Ribbing Ronaldo: Dirty deeds over penalty shoot-out fallout no laughing matter for some

Yahoo’s Dirty Tackle blog falls in to the “do not miss” category, its story on Cristiano Ronaldo missing his flight home to Portugal from Euro 2012 one of its biggest scoops ever.

He was, they reported, “left shaking his head and pulling up the legs of his shorts as he watched the plane fly off without him”.

“It was just a question of me speaking with the travel planner,” said a clearly distraught Ronaldo. “She said to me, ‘Do you want to sit in the fifth zone – in the back of the plane?’ and I said ‘yes’. Sometimes I sit in the first, the second or the third. I agreed to take the fifth. And then I went to get a Cinnabon and the plane took off without me.”

The flight’s captain, Ted Mendes, had no sympathy for the fella, though.

“If he wanted to be sure he was on the plane, he should have boarded sooner. Maybe if he did, he would’ve sat next to the emergency exit and Bruno Alves wouldn’t haven’t knocked the door open mid-flight.”

By mid-day Twitter was aflutter over the news. “OMG, how can they have missed him,” wrote one distressed Ronaldo fan.

On being informed by, oh, several thousand Twitterers than the story was a joke, the gist of the response from the Ronaldo fans was: “OMG! IT’S NOT FUNNY.”

You had to laugh, though.

Italian speak: Buffon sings from his soul as Pirlo refuses to get carried away

“We haven’t done anything yet. There’s no use going to Rome and not seeing the Pope. We want to go home with this cup.”

– Andrea Pirlo, not swigging champagne just yet.

“What image I will take from this game? Certainly when I went to my mom after and I said, ‘These goals are for you’. Tonight was the most beautiful of my life, but I hope that this Sunday is even better.”

– Himself, Mario Balotelli.

“I was angry with us because we could have avoided the difficult final five minutes. When you can score seven goals against Germany, you have to score seven because if they come back to 2-2 they’ll beat you 10-2 in extra-time.”

– Gianluigi Buffon explaining why he was in a bit of a mood after Thursday’s game.

“I sing with my eyes closed because I feel Italian down to the marrow of my bones.”

– Buffon again. True enough, he looks quite up for it when he sings that anthem.

“As Bishop of Rome, Benedict XVI shared the joy of his faithful.”

– The Pope’s Secretary-of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, insisting there were no hard feelings from his boss after Germany’s exit.

“Pirlo is football.”

– A quote under the heading “Merkel hails artistic Pirlo” on the Football Italia website – drawing a “huh?” or two. But it was a tribute from Alexander Merkel, the 20-year-old who played alongside Pirlo at AC Milan.

“My daughter said she wanted us to lose so I’d come home!”

– Daniele De Rossi on how Italy’s success isn’t pleasing everyone.

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