A big part of the dramatic tension in the Euros lies in the history behind every single match. I’m not talking about contrived history, like how England is forever doomed to lose to Germany on penalties. I’m talking about the history you have to learn about in school. The stuff with shifting lines on maps, and endless lists of dates, the stuff that turns Austria vs Hungary, normally bit players in modern European football, into Must See TV.
Understanding the history between Germany and France would require a semester-length undergraduate course. Even the football history is complicated, up to and including their friendly last November. There’s a kind of pall that hangs over the proceedings, even in the postwar era. Yet the tension also lends itself to some incredible moments on the pitch. Including one of the most incredible games in international football. Ever.