Kudos to the pig. In the race to emulate Paul the Octopus' World Cup predicting perfection of two years ago, Emma the Mangalitsa pig from Freiburg, Germany, vaulted into sole possession of the lead on Thursday evening. Unfortunately, it came at the expense of the German national team's European Football Championship title aspirations.
German hopes for a second consecutive Euro finals appearance were crushed on Thursday night by a familiar opponent. The German team has never managed to defeat Italy in a major international tournament and the most recent tie-up was no different. Italy, behind striker Mario Balotelli, emerged as the 2:1 victors.
The loss is a bitter disappointment for German fans. In its two most recent tournament losses, consolation came in the form of anticipation as fans had high hopes for the future exploits of a promising young team. This year, though, many felt it was time. A nine-point romp through the group stage followed by a dismantling of a disorganized Greek team did little to dampen the enthusiasm. But the team met its kryptonite on Thursday night in Warsaw.
Afterward, trainer Joachim Löw grasped for optimism even as his players fought back tears. "There is absolutely no reason to call everything into question," the trainer said following the game before making reference to the "last two excellent years in which the team has developed excellently." And, as sportswriters haven't failed to mention in their post-mortems, the German team was still the youngest in the tournament, meaning the championship window remains open.
For several of Germany's animal oracles, however, Thursday spelled disaster for their hopes of fame. Only Emma has emerged from the veritable zoo of hopefuls with a perfect record on pre-German match predictions. And, of course Xaver the bulldog. But he had human help.
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