By Madeline Chambers
BERLIN (Reuters) – Germans appear to be tempering characteristic ambition to win the day in a Euro 2016 clash against France with higher sympathies for a core European partner hit by economic travails and militant attacks.
Thursday’s soccer match decides who will qualify for next weekend’s final at the Paris Stade de France, one of the targets of Nov. 13 attacks that shook Europe.
In an editorial on Tuesday entitled “Allez, allez”, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung wrote how France needed to beat Germany.
“Of course there is more at stake than football. France is feeling its economic weakness and it must look on enviously as the whole of Europe becomes more German,” it wrote.
“A victory over Germany would be far more than a game won. It would be an act of liberation… A strengthened France helps Europe and the Germans.”
The match, in Marseille, is all the more poignant because of the Nov. 13 attacks when the two teams played out their friendly match at the Stade de France despite audible bomb blasts nearby.
Bombers and gunmen murdered 130 people in Paris and shaken German players who spent the night holed up at the Stade de France have since spoken of feeling close to the France team.
Top-selling Bild daily combined headlines about how Germany would win the match with a comment from Franz Josef Wagner saying he had two hearts in his chest. One beat for Germany while the other embraced croissants and Brigitte Bardot.
“One heart says France has suffered enough, so many dead from terrorism, the economy is in decline, 10 percent unemployment. France needs some solace,” he said.
Berlin’s Tagesspiegel said the two teams symbolized the core EU values of solidarity and peace in the face of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.
(Reporting by Madeline Chambers)