By a quirk of fate, Germany, the economic and political powerhouse of Europe, is playing against small, dependent, bankrupt, bailed-out Greece in the quarterfinals of the Euro 2012 soccer championship.
Both sides have pledged to set aside politics, forget about their mutual grudges, and enjoy the big match for its own sake.
But soccer in Europe arouses deep passions. Rivalries, ancient and modern, are never far beneath the surface.
So it is apt that today's great duel is happening in a land drenched in history, and well acquainted with this region's fault lines
Greek soccer fans whistled and jeered at Angela Merkel, but the German chancellor had the last laugh, jumping to her feet in joy every time her team scored.
After a year in which the Greek economy imploded and Germany insisted on deep austerity measures in return for bailout funds, Greeks were yearning for a victory on the playing field. It would've restored some pride and allowed them to have the upper hand, even just for a day.
It wasn't meant to be. In their European Championship quarterfinal match Friday, as in the crisis-hit eurozone economy, German influence proved tough for Greece to overcome and the final score was 4-2.