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Olympiastadion gets final it deserves
A German season of refreshing unpredictability got the climax it deserved in Nuremberg’s 3-2 victory over VfB Stuttgart in the Cup final on Saturday. It was fitting that it came at Berlin’s Olympiastadion, a venue that was overdue a great game.
This was the first time I’d been to the Olympic Stadium since the World Cup final, a disappointingly tense game that was spoiled by the sending-off of Zidane for a “header” few in the crowd could see. The red card and Italy’s subsequent victory on penalties left a lot of people grumbling and was an unsatisfying conclusion to a great tournament.
The atmosphere could hardly have been more different in the same venue on Saturday when Nuremberg upset champions Stuttgart after extra-time in a rousing final. Even Stuttgart fans seemed to be smiling as they headed for the gates, grateful for a great show.
Cynics may argue Nuremberg were foolish for not sitting on their 2-1 second-half lead against a team reduced to 10 men, for not switching to destructive defensive tactics and killing the game off. They paid a price when Stuttgart got a late equaliser that sent the match into extra time.
Nuremberg had kept pushing forward as if they were behind — electrifying the 74,220 spectators in the stadium and 10 million viewers watching on TV, even though some journalists did complain as they were forced to throw away their prepared stories after Stuttgart scored.
Congratulations to Nuremberg — not necessarily for winning the German Cup but for giving everyone their money’s worth. It’s a shame that doesn’t happen more often in these showpiece finals.
Erik Kirschbaum is a Reuters correspondent based in Berlin