Germans were unfurling their flags and applying the black, red and gold face-paints on Sunday morning as football fever approached its climax for the team's Euro 2008 final against Spain.
From Chancellor Angela Merkel downwards, Germans will be cheering on “Schweini”, “Poldi” and their teammates in a nation now much more comfortable with being patriotic ever since the 2006 World Cup was held on home soil.
In towns and cities across the country, hundreds of thousands were expected at public viewing areas to watch the match beamed in from Vienna from 1845 GMT onto huge screens and tens of millions will be glued to their TVs at home.
More than 400,000 people watched the last game in the specially erected “Fan Mile” around the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin alone, and the atmosphere will be more electric still on Sunday if Joachim Loew's team triumphs.
Even German automakers like Daimler, Volkswagen and Audi plan to shut down production during the game so that their workers can follow the match before the conveyor belts grind back into action after the final whistle.
Merkel herself, who was shown literally jumping for joy in Basel when the winning goal against Turkey hit the back of the net on Wednesday, will watch the match in Vienna along with President Horst Koehler and other ministers.
Merkel became a regular in the stands during the World Cup. She has even taken to giving the players some motherly advice, and after the Turkey match gave an interview in the flash zone area usually reserved for players and managers.
Her spokesman had to keep the chancellor informed by text message of the score in the game against Portugal while she was tied up with more serious matters at an EU summit on June 19.
A parade has been organised in central Berlin for Monday for the players — even if they lose — and the city authorities have asked schools to give pupils the afternoon off so they can attend.
“It is very important for us that the team will be greeted by its supporters back in Germany. Berlin has become like a second home to us since the 2006 World Cup,” trainer Loew said.
Only one in five German televisions were tuned into something else as almost 30 million viewers were glued to Wednesday's semi-final thriller against Turkey, and Sunday's final was not expected to be any less of a crowd-puller.
Even Germany's most popular TV programme, the family entertainment show “Wetten, dass…?” (“You want a bet?”), only attracts a market share of 30 or 40 percent, said Thomas Hagerdorn, spokesman for public broadcaster ZDF.
The offers attempting to tempt TV viewers away from the football include the Rowan Atkinson comedy “Johnny English” — dubbed into German — and a programme about real-life animal capers in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia,
And as always there is a “Schlager” show, that perennial prime-time instititution devoted to swingalong oompah songs about falling in love, mountains and lederhosen.
“I am sure that our team is going to succeed,” President Koehler said in a column in the top-selling Bild newspaper on Sunday. “Our opponent is strong … but with the fire in their bellies the German team can beat them.”
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